Truth Frequency Radio
Nov 17, 2013

truth-frequency-radio-chris-geo-sheree-geo-alternative-media-news-informationBy Janice Ponce de Leon, Gulf News

Dubai: For nine-year-old Esmail Al Ashqar, giving away his savings this month to children victims of typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines was more important than buying candies or toys.

Esmail and his brother Ebrahim, 7, gave away their savings worth Dh117.50 from their coin bank to the benefit brunch held at the Philippine Consulate-General in Al Ghusais on Friday. The brothers, born to a Filipino mother and Jordanian father, are among the 1,500 Filipinos and non-Filipinos who trooped to the consulate to donate their time, money, goods, and effort.

The benefit brunch raised a sum of Dh112,412 on Friday which will be sent on Saturday to aid the typhoon victims, a week after super typhoon Haiyan wiped out communities in central Philippines. More than 3,600 people have died and hundreds of thousands rendered homeless.

“When I saw the news, the children suffering, I felt like crying. Everything is destroyed; they don’t have anything, no food. But here in Dubai we have all we need,” Esmail told Gulf News.

“My brother and I chose to give our savings to the child victims in the Philippines because they are also children like us,” the fourth-grader added.

Elizabeth, the children’s mother, told Gulf News her children volunteered to share their savings to show that no act of kindness is too small. “They feel so much for them, they know that they didn’t have much but they gave all that they got,” Elizabeth said.

Matilyn Bagunu, president of the Filipino Community in Dubai and the Northern Emirates (Filcom-DNE) that organised the fund-raiser, told Gulf News she was overwhelmed by the generosity not only of the two boys but also of the other residents who came to show support.

“The event was to start at 11am. But people were here as early as 9am. We saw people from all walks of life and other nationalities. There were Filipinos, Italians, Indians, Pakistanis, Syrians, Jordanians and many more,” Bagunu said.

“We saw the spirit of bayanihan [Filipino trait of helping each other in times of great need] as everyone contributed whatever they could. They were stuffing boxes with goods, lifting them, everything.”

On Saturday, Wendell Castro, head of the task force overseeing the relief operations in Dubai, told Gulf News that at least 10 20-feet and 40-feet containers could be filled with all the relief goods donated on Friday, including new blankets, linen, slippers, canned goods, toiletries, baby nappies and bottles. Sorting and repacking of goods was done overnight from Friday to Saturday night.

Medicines and perishable items will be sent to the Philippines via air cargo while the rest will be shipped to the Philippines. At least seven cargo companies, both local and international, have pledged to send the goods for free.