Philippines (BTCF)- The following report summarizes Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation (BTCF) relief actions in the Philippines from 14 to 28 April.
On April 15, there were a total of 5,223 confirmed cases and 335 deaths of COVID-19 in the Philippines, forcing regions to initiate and/or prolong their lockdown protocols. These lockdowns are acutely felt by our vulnerable communities as they struggled with job uncertainty and food insecurity. Local businesses closed down with some families losing income. Precarious housing situations had also affected residents’ ability to adhere to social distancing and hygiene recommendations, causing health issues, stress and anxiety.
Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation (BTCF) Philippines has been continuously supporting local vulnerable communities in Manila, Ormoc, Tacloban, Bohol Island and more. Having formed good relationships with these communities over the years, BTCF quickly initiated a COVID-19 rice distribution programme with aims to provide short-term food relief, personal hygiene education and emotional support. BTCF also worked with hospitals to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical personnels and, in partnership with a local Catholic church, supported hospital staff with temporary accommodations.
Summary of Actions Taken From 14 to 28 April
1. Fire relief distribution in Delpan Street and Happyland
- A total of 1,040 families received aid: Delpan (309) and Happyland (1,031)
- Aid relief include: 10kg bag of rice, soy sauce, vinegar, pot, 4 plates, 6 cutlery sets, 4 cups, a sleeping mat, blanket, 2 soaps, 2 face cloths, 1 bag of second-hand clothing and 5 cloth masks
2. COVID-19 Relief Rice Distribution
- A total of over 21,7000 bags of 25 kgs rice was donated with 581 Tzu Chi volunteers, 205 military personnels, 63 police personnels, 293 local government volunteers and 157 local volunteers assisting with the distributions.
3. Medical Supplies Donation
- Donation of 28,900 surgical masks, 18,730 N95 masks, 6 gallons of cleaning alcohol, 13,500 gloves, 3,252 coveralls, 8,600 isolation gowns, 2,500 isolation caps, 1,850 shoe covers, 580 goggles, 5 thermometers, 50 face shields, 260 Jing Si Multi-purpose folding beds, 200 eco-blankets, 100 towelettes, 24 blood packs and 20 HIV kits were made to 30 hospitals:
- Philippine Children Medical Center
- United Doctors Medical Center
- Eversely Childs Sanitarium & General Hospital (Cebu)
- Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (Cebu)
- Cebu City Medical Center (Cebu)
- Southern Philippine Medical Center (Davao)
- Davao Doctors Hospital (Davao)
- San Pedro Hospital (Davao)
- Metro Davao Medical Research Center (Davao)
- Angeles University Foundation (Pampanga)
- Sacred Heart Medical Center (Pampanga)
- Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation (Cebu)
- Bayanihan Cebu Isolation Centers (Cebu)
- Zamboanga City Medical Center (Zamboanga)
- Rafael Lazatin Memorial Medical Center (Pampanga)
- Ricardo Limso Medical Center (Davao)
- Davao Medical School Foundation (Davao)
- Brokenshire Hospital (Davao)
- Friendly Care Clinic (Davao)
- Red Cross Cebu Chapter (Cebu)
- Remedios Trinidad Romualdez Hospital
- Mother of Mercy Hospital
- Divine Word Hospital
- Ormoc Doctors Hospital (Ormoc)
- Ormoc City Health (Ormoc)
- Clinical Gatchalian Hospital (Ormoc)
- Ormoc District Hospital
- OSPA Farmers Medical Center (Ormoc)
- Don Emilio Del Valle Memorial Hospital
- Governor Celestino Gallares Memorial Medical Hospital
On April 15 and 18, fires broke out in the low-socioeconomic Manila area of Delpan Street,
Tondo, and nearby, Happyland, causing more than 600 families to be displaced and 250 homes destroyed. Both areas were highly populated. The local government had set up shelters nearby but the crowded quarters forced many families to live on the streets. Many residents did not have face covering or access to soap. The fires had exacerbated the already difficult situation brought on by COVID-19 in these communities.
Delpan is an area well-known to BTCF Philippines, on April 14, BTCF held a COVID-19 aid distribution in the district. Upon hearing of these fires and learning that the community was severely affected, BTCF sent out a team of local volunteers to visit the shelters and nearby streets, meeting with local officials and residents to ascertain emerging needs. Responding to this unexpected situation, BTCF quickly included another distribution for the residents as part of the fire relief action plan. The distributed aid were adjusted to suit the needs of the community, including: 10kg bag of rice, soy sauce, vinegar, pot, 4 plates, 6 cutlery sets, 4 cups, a sleeping mat, blanket, 2 soaps, 2 face cloths, 1 bag of second-hand clothing (sorted by BTCF volunteers) and 5 cloth masks. A total of 1,040 families, Delpan (309) and Happyland (1,031), received food and necessities packs. Dharma Master Cheng Yen, founder of BTCF, says “It is these vulnerable communities that we need to take care of, the hardest hit families may have already been struggling with daily necessities and food before COVID-19 so we need to support them before the situation becomes dire. If we can do that, we can lift the spirit of community and encourage residents to help each other and work together to build resilience.”
From 14 to 28 April, over 217,000 bags of 25 kgs rice was donated in 19 COVID-19 rice distributions, running in parallel to the fire relief. A total of 581 Tzu Chi volunteers, 205 military personnels, 63 police personnels, 293 local government volunteers and 157 local volunteers assisted with the COVID-19 and fire relief response. BTCF also donated 78,577 pieces of PPE and medical equipment to 30 hospitals to support our front-line medical professionals.
Working with a local Catholic church, a donation of Jing Si Multipurpose folding beds and eco-blankets were used to set-up a temporary dormitory for hospital staff who are not able to go home to their families due to the possibility of spreading COVID-19 to their communities.
Jing Si Multipurpose folding beds, along with the eco-blankets, had been created as an innovative disaster relief solution. It is made from recycled plastics, easy-to-transport and has a storage compartment to store belongings. The eco-blanket is made from PET bottles, has a small carbon footprint to produce and is lightweight. Working with our partners, BTCF was honored to provide a safe and healthy environment for medical personnels to rest.
COVID-19 has changed many aspects of daily living, from food price fluctuations, transport restrictions, healthcare issues to affected infrastructure. As COVID-19 continues to disrupt everyday life for much of the global population, organizations have to work with local governments, partners and make new connections to find the needs of all people. All mankind across faiths, cultures and nationalities must unite together to respond to the call of vulnerable communities.