Mennonites respond to Typhoon Haiyan

Mennonite efforts are underway in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

November 14, 2013 | Web First
Typhoon survivors stand in line for potable drinking water on Nov. 11, 2013, in Ormoc, Leyte. (Photo by Maryannm “Mai” Zamora, courtesy World Vision.)

In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, disaster relief efforts are underway to help with cleanup and reconstruction. Mennonite Church Canada (MC Canada) is advising donors to make donations to Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada to help with these efforts.

“MCC has the experience necessary for international relief efforts, and has collaborated with Peace Builders Community Inc. (PBCI), our ministry partner, on previous occasions,” said Gordon Janzen, who oversees ministry in Asia for MC Canada.

MC Canada has had peace ministries in the Philippines since 2006, and MCC has collaborated with Peace Builders Community since 2009 to train peace and reconciliation teams in disaster preparedness. In the past, conflicts have arisen amid the severe needs after major disasters.

MCC is providing an initial $50,000 to Church World Service (CWS), which is working with the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction Network, to respond with urgent food and non-food items. Initially this assistance is focusing on Surigao del Norte and Dinagat Island (both in Mindanao) and on Bohol and Samar (both in Visayas), areas where MCC’s partners have access.

MCC also is providing funding to PBCI, to send a 10-member team trained in disaster preparedness from Cebu and Mindanao to Leyte Island, an area where thousands of people are believed to have perished.

“Mennonite Church Canada has long-term workers on the ground in the Philippines. We were so relieved to hear that they are safe, and are able to help others,” said Janzen, referring to Dann and Joji Pantoja who reside in Davao City, south of the storm centre, and Christina and Darnell Barkman, who reside in Manila, north of the storm centre.

Dann Pantoja is leading an assessment team and has already arrived in Cebu, one of the hardest hit urban areas. The Barkmans have sent three volunteers to join this team from their congregation, Peace Church Philippines. The team will focus on rapid needs assessment, disaster response training of church volunteers, and mapping and prioritizing relief distribution.

Bruce Guenther, MCC director of disaster response, stressed that this is the beginning of MCC’s response, which will help to meet immediate needs and support longer-term recovery. “There are urgent needs to be addressed now,” Guenther says. “At the same time, we want to explore how to support communities’ longer-term efforts to restore livelihoods and recover from this devastation.”

“All relief workers are going to need our prayers and financial support,” said Janzen. “They are going to have to make tough choices about which people and locations will receive the aid first, all in an environment where communications and transportation infrastructure have been damaged.”

Donations from individual Canadians to MCC’s typhoon relief effort are eligible to be matched by the Canadian government. The government has announced that it will match donations made to relief efforts until Dec. 8. Information on how to donate is at

--From reports by Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Central Committee, posted Nov. 14, 2013

Typhoon survivors stand in line for potable drinking water on Nov. 11, 2013, in Ormoc, Leyte. (Photo by Maryannm “Mai” Zamora, courtesy World Vision.)

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