Monday, December 23, 2013

Red Crosser Raul Rivera Nuñez Deploys to Philippine Relief Effort

Raul, far right, with American Red Cross colleagues Ian O'Donnell,
David Dunn, David Schindler, and Michele Devlin, all bound for
the Philippines.
Raul Rivera Nuñez, Greater New York’s regional manager of mass care and logistics, recently arrived in the Philippines for a four-week deployment with the Global Red Cross network, helping those affected by Typhoon Haiyan. We recently caught up with Raul, asking him a few questions about his work, the conditions on the ground, and the resilience of the Philippine people.

Q: Where are you staying?
A: We live in base camp in Tacloban City, over-sized tents co-located in an open field, operated by the Danish Red Cross. We have a work tent, a dining hall tent, sleeping tents, etc. We operate from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm (this includes time for breakfast, lunch and dinner).

Base Camp

Q: What kind of work are you doing?
A: When we first arrived, we jumped right onto making distribution runs. We have handed out hygiene kits, tarps, jerry cans, and food packs (rice, noodles, can of sardines). This is at the request of the Philippines Red Cross. Our target number is 2,000 families per day, and this is done in conjunction with host national society. Now we are in talks with the Philippine chapter to see how we can move into the sheltering phase of distribution (handing out more tarps, tool-kits, nails, CGI's, tents, etc...) Any decision will be made in conjunction with the Philippine Red Cross.

Q: Can you talk about your interaction with the Filipino people?
A: The Filipino people have been amazing. They are very welcoming, and always greet us with a smile. When we do distribution runs you can see the genuine expression of gratitude in their faces. When we take a moment to talk to them between runs, they tell us their how they braved the typhoon. Though their stories can be horrifying, they always keep a smile on their face, and their chins up (keep in mind that many of them lost family members, neighbors and friends).

Q:  Are you interacting with the local volunteers?
A: All the time. The Philippine Red Cross volunteers are inspiring. They mostly comprise college-aged volunteers. Since the schools are closed until January, they show up day in and day out, and they spend their whole day doing what needs to be done.

Q: Do you have messages for anyone back home?
A: I would like to send a huge Thank You to Kelly McKinney (Greater New York region chief response officer) and Dario Diaz (regional director, planning, readiness and situational awareness, Emergency Services), for going out of their way to make my deployment possible. I would also like to thank my colleagues Monica, Miguel, Erin and JJ for taking up the extra slack during my absence. For anyone I may have forgotten, and had a hand in making my deployment possible, I also want to send you a big THANK YOU. 


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