Christus accepting donations for victims of Typhoon Haiyan

Photo courtesy of the United States Marine Corps

Christus is leading an effort to help those impacted by Typhoon Haiyan, one of the largest typhoons in history that caused more than 4,000 deaths and more than $1 billion worth of damage in the Philippines and Southeast Asia. Bodies continue to be recovered, with American Red Cross estimating that, as of Nov. 13, more than 22,000 people are still missing. The U.N. estimates that about 2 million people in the Philippines were forced from their homes by Typhoon Haiyan, referred to as Super Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines.

The Christus Health Foundation is accepting cash or check donations that will enable a check presentation to the Philippine Association of Beaumont, a cultural organization promoting Filipino culture, at its annual Christmas event Dec. 8. According to the Philippine Association of Beaumont’s Facebook page, it will use the money donated to build a village for displaced residents in the Philippines.

Dr. Nestor C. Punay, president of the organization and a Beaumont neurologist who experienced hurricanes Rita and Ike in Southeast Texas, said that many Filipinos do not have insurance or government aid to help them rebuild their houses.

“The Philippines is a poor country,” Punay said. “If (Americans) lose their house, we normally have insurance coverage and can get back on our feet. But in the Philippines, not only did they lose their house and their property — their livelihood — they lost family and friends and on top of that their houses are most likely not insured. Can you imagine losing everything with no way of rebuilding and no help will come?”

The organization intends to raise $75,000 to build a village, but would like to raise more, earmarking some money for medical missions. Punay said that while the money would enable the Philippine Association of Beaumont to build between 20-30 houses, more than 20,000 houses are needed as a result of the storm. Punay, who plans to visit the country in January to lend his medical expertise, said that while the organization had tentatively planned to build the village in Tacloban, a city considered the worst affected by the storm, most of the international relief efforts are benefiting the city and the organization is considering building the village in one of several areas that might have been overlooked.

“We’re going to visit those areas and make a decision later on where the need really is,” Punay said, “because Tacloban really is going to get the bulk of the aid, but (other areas) may not get the needed attention and the help. We’re going to figure out where this village would make immediate impact on the community.”

Punay said that construction could begin as early as April 2014.

Donations can be made at Smart Credit Union locations in Beaumont at 2900 North St., Suite 204 (North Building) and in Port Arthur, 2001 Ninth Ave., Ste. 200 A (Dr.’s Professional Building). In Jasper, donations should be brought to Beverly Holley, Medical Staff Coordinator at Christus Jasper Memorial Hospital, 1275 Marvin Hancock Drive in Jasper. Donations can also be made through the Christus Health Foundation website by choosing “I would like my gift to benefit” the Relief Effort for the Philippines at christushealthfoundationsetx.org/get-involved/donate/. For more information, call (409) 899-7555. Everyone will receive a receipt for his or her donation for tax purposes.

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