From the Philippines – Final Dispatch

Following the devastating typhoon in the Philippines in November, ET staff member, Gregg Butensky, initiated a fundraising effort to bring assistance to the people of Aklan on the island of Panay. Gregg has strong connections in Aklan having established a public lending library there over 15 years ago.

Earlier this month Gregg travelled to the region to ensure that the $10,000 raised is used in the most effective way possible. He’s providing the following dispatches for his donors, republished here for ET readers.

Badio, Numancia - Aklan
Badio, Numancia – Aklan

On my last morning in Numancia I took a final ride on the motorbike. A couple days before I had brought it to a shop to get it fixed. A front turn signal had snapped off during my wipe out in the mountains.

One of the guys at the shop got on it right away. As I watched, he dismantled the frontend, refashioned a part from a scrap of metal, and put it all back together. Expert work; good as new. How much, I asked. 50 pesos – just over $1.

I rode over to the Gomez house. Sheila was there and her mom and dad. The kids were at school. They still hadn’t been able to get cement due to the shortage. I told them they need to pre-pay for it and then they’ll be in the queue. Auntie showed me the rebar that had arrived saying that the gauge was too light. She also asked if we could add a CR (comfort room, the Filipino word for bathroom). What she meant was a proper outhouse. I thought we were already including that but apparently that’s extra. Fortunately, the other items were coming in under budget so we can probably include the CR and still stay within the original amount.

One of the brothers was also there that morning – busy digging out the four corners of the footprint so it would be ready when the cement arrived. Another brother was due to arrive early the next week to help with construction. In order to control costs, we’re hiring just one person for construction. The rest of the team will be comprised of family members (at a small cost since
they need to be fed).

I had hoped to see some of the construction during my stay but it was not to be. Rowena and Nida will be keeping daily tabs on the work and I’ll see if I can get them to send me some photos. They’ve been absolutely incredible, but they’re also very busy.

One of the true joys of doing work like this is the people you meet in the process. I’ve been going to Aklan for many years but it took engaging in this project to meet some of the truly remarkable people in the region, who are working so hard to uplift those around them that need it most.

Rowena, Nida, Kim-sin, Malou and others that I met are shining examples of people dedicated to helping others without care or concern about their own status or position. This is in striking contrast with the politicians of the region. I’m confident that our project will succeed – and that confidence is borne wholly from the partnership I was able to establish with the people of Task Force Tabang Aklan.

With your help and the help of others you know, I’m now hoping that we can continue the work under subsequent phases.

We’re getting close to having a final document outlining the specifics of the project. The effort includes a mix of fishing boats, fishing nets, and housing assistance, and is structured as a combination of loans and grants. It’s a bit complicated and so finalizing the details is taking some time. I’ll make the final doc available to all of you once I have it. I’m also working on a photo gallery which I’ll share as well.

If you’d like an official receipt for your tax-deductible contribution, just let me know.

Thanks again for your support.

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