BRENTWOOD — “It’s heart-breaking to see some of the devastation out there,” said David Acres, Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief director, who has seen many sites struck by disasters and their victims, of the Philippines. “There’s still a lot of work to be done.”
Though the typhoon struck the Philippines five months ago, many people are still suffering, he said.
Don Owen, DR director, Nolachucky Baptist Association, based in Morristown, who accompanied Acres said, “We found a great willingness on their part to work with and support our efforts.”
The two men and two other state Baptist DR leaders, Don Rhoades of Hillcrest Baptist Church, Morristown, and Tony Broyles of Cherry Grove Baptist Church, Jonesborough, served in the Philippines March 3-12.
They met with Southern Baptist International Mission Board missionaries and government officials to identify needs which can be met by Tennessee Baptist DR volunteers and DR volunteers in seven other states with help from Baptist Global Response, explained Acres. In addition non-DR volunteers can serve.
The team identified two projects for DR volunteers and other Baptists to conduct near Bogo City on the island of Cebu and another project which is shipping needed supplies.
The first two projects will be to demolish and reconstruct much of the Bogo Central School in Bogo City and to provide a water system for the Anonang Sur school near Bogo City.
The Bogo Central School has 1,300 students in Kindergarten to grade six. Besides damaging the school, the typhoon damaged the homes of eight teachers. When offered help, one teacher told Acres she wanted the Americans to help the school before helping her. The teachers and students speak a native language but also speak English.
At the Anonang Sur school, which has about 300 students, the DR volunteers will provide running, drinkable water. Currently the school uses water from a tank which must be bought and buys bottled water for drinking.
Both of these projects will include an element of training and using local workers, said Acres. This will really help the very poor people there. For instance a laborer will make about 200 pesos a day which is “hardly enough to buy a pound of rice,” said Acres.
Previously Tennessee DR has included training in their efforts, he explained, in American Samoa about five years ago after a typhoon there.
To supplement the economy additionally, the Americans will buy many of their supplies there.
Finally, Tennessee Baptists working with the other states will ship a container of supplies to the island because some items from the United States are needed, said Acres. Items needed are textbooks including resource materials for teachers, computers and monitors, school supplies, prepackaged food for families, DR Buckets for Babies, and supplies for medical and dental clinics (no medicine).
Volunteers, whether DR-trained or not, can serve on the projects and also in clinics and school-related ministries. Acres said relationships built during the work will “open doors” to share the gospel, as already has been experienced by the missionaries. The people where Tennessee Baptists will work are mainly Catholic.
“This will give us the opportunity to build relationships with those people and share with them. They are open, very open,” he said.
DR volunteers interested in serving should contact Elizabeth Holmes of the DR office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-371-7926.
Those wishing to contribute to the projects should send funds to Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief, for the Philippines Recovery, P.O. Box 728, Brentwood, TN 37027.