Port Chaplain RecountsTyphoon Haiyan Devastation

Friday, November 15, 2013

Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) Cebu port chaplain has spoken of the devastation caused by the typhoon and efforts to provide assistance. Across the globe the charity’s port chaplains have come out in full force to support Filipino seafarers and fishing communities affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

Father Ulyses Desales, AoS Cebu port chaplain who has been helping with relief efforts in Bantayan Island, Cebu, one of the areas most affected by the storm, described the situation in Cebu as “devastating and saddening.”

“It was only when I arrived on the island that I saw the extent of the damage for myself; almost all the houses have collapsed, trees have been uprooted and debris is all over the place. It is in the provinces of Cebu that you really get a sense of the destruction caused by the typhoon,” he said, adding that he saw people holding up placards with the words “Please help us. We need water, food, medicine.”

Fr. Ulyses has turned the seafarers’ center in Cebu into a hub which he can use to mobilize assistance, together with his team of volunteers.

AoS has seafarers’ centers providing support throughout the Philippines. Its network of centers around the world are providing free telephone cards and internet access to allow Filipino seafarers to contact their families back home.

Its network of chaplains has been visiting crew members and their families to offer practical and spiritual assistance to victims of the devastating storm.

Karen Parson, an AoS chaplain based in Galveston, Texas, has spent the past week helping Filipino seafarers contact their relatives back home and assisting with their material needs.

“One seafarer who is going home to the Philippines asked me to find him a solar powered LED light which I managed to do online. We have been on board ships every day since the tragedy, praying for the crews’ families and offering counseling.”

AoS’ Yokohama port chaplain Soon-Ho Kim said fishermen who were affected by the 2011 tsunami have offered their help through the AoS network.

“These fishermen, who were supported by AoS after the Tsunami in Japan, phoned to say they would like to do something for those hit by Typhoon Haiyan. It was heart-breaking news for them too.”

Many AoS chaplains have celebrated Masses for the deceased, and have helped seafarers make sense of the devastation and turmoil.

Cruise operator, Carnival Cruises, has also asked AoS to deploy its chaplains on board of several of their ships to support Filipino crew.

The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, which coordinates the activities of AoS worldwide, has set up a special fund which will enable AoS to provide support to those affected by the storm in the long term.

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