‘Our hearts are heavy for the people in the Philippines . . .’
Be Thankful. This is the message on our Facebook page right now, a message posted on November 2, a message designed to mark the approach to Thanksgiving Day, a time for us all to give thanks and to count our blessings.
In the 12 days since November 2, that message – Be Thankful – has assumed even greater significance. Back then, we didn’t understand quite what was coming. Since then, it has become clear that we have more reasons than ever before to Be Thankful.
On November 2, what has since become known as Typhoon Haiyan was nothing more than an area of low pressure, several hundred kilometers East-Southeast of Pohnpei, in the Federated States of Micronesia. We might have heard about it on the news, but at that stage, it didn’t much register. In the days since, there is no question that it has got our full attention.
Since striking the central Philippines, Haiyan has caused devastation on an unimaginable scale. It has destroyed Leyte and Samar Island. It has killed thousands and affected millions. The official death toll is in four figures, although officials on the ground expect the final count to be much higher. People are injured, stricken, homeless and disorientated. Some 11 million are estimated to be suffering as a result and, at this point, there is no end in sight. That message again, posted just 12 days ago, is Be Thankful. Such a simple saying has never sounded so poignant before.
Here at OM®, we’re thankful. Thankful that such a fate has not befallen us. Thankful that none of our friends or family members are directly affected. Thankful that our loved ones are safe and sound.
It’s more than that, though, and we’re also thankful for less selfish reasons. We’re thankful that we live in a world in which aid is available to those most in need. We’re thankful that people from all over the world and all walks of life care enough to pledge the donations that make such a difference on the ground. We’re thankful that not everyone perished and that a new-found resilience and sense of community is coming to the fore. We’re thankful that humanity, in the end, will win out.
We’re thankful for Bea Joy Ortega, whose heavily-pregnant mother had to make a grueling swim to safety before giving birth to her amid the rubble and the wreckage, the dying and injured. We’re thankful for Jonathan Fitzpatrick, a British engineer, who left the relative safety of his hotel room to lead those in danger to a place where they could take shelter. We’re thankful for Atom Araullo, a local TV weatherman, who in braving the dangers on the streets in order to keep his compatriots informed, has become a symbol of strength and resilience. We’re thankful for Nick Vujicic, who is using his remarkable powers to inspire others to think about those less fortunate and to do something to help.
‘Our hearts are heavy for the people in the Philippines,’ Nick wrote on his Facebook page a little earlier this week. ‘[I’m] praying for them and asking our friends there how we can directly relieve the pain – I’ll let you know how we can help them together.’ That final word – together – is the key, because for all our differences and for the distance between us, we are all in this together. This is bigger than race or religion or any of the things that traditionally divide us. This is about people. This is about humanity. This is about us all, as a planet, because when something like this happens, it underlines the indisputable fact that we are all connected. It’s just that some of us are more fortunate than others and, when we’re having a bad day, it’s important that we recognize that fact.
Please help, please pray, please donate. But above all, please Be Thankful.
* Like to help? The Red Cross are among those supporting people in the Philippines.