ISKCON’s Food For Life continues to feed victims of Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines on November 7th with winds of 195 mph.
One of the strongest tropical cyclones in recorded history, Haiyan has claimed nearly 6,000 lives in the Philippines, and thousands more are missing. Around 4 million have been displaced from their homes.
ISKCON’s Food For Life is one of the many aid organizations doing what it can to help in the wake of the disaster.
Between November 15th and 20th, the Nagar Sankirtan Party from Manila, headed by Balarama Das distributed 8,200 plates of hot sanctified vegetarian food in barangays or villages in Tacloban, the capital of Leyte Province.
Meanwhile from November 18th to 29th, the Sri Sri Radha-Madhava Food For Life team headed by Makanlal Das and chef Gokula Chandra Das served 2,730 plates in Manila.
Chanting the Holy Names along with distribution of prasadam-with Bhakti Anugra Janardana Swami - First Filipino Sanyasi
And in Cebu province, Food For Life volunteers headed by Jayasri Dasi and Gopal Krishna Das served 4,200 plates of hot meals between the 23rd and 30th of November.
“Along with the prasadam distribution, we chanted the Holy names, sometimes with Bhakti Anugra Janardana Swami, our first Filipino sannyasi,” says Radha-Lila Dasi, director of Food For Life Philippines.
In this way, a total of 15,130 plates were served over the thirteen days from November 18th to 30th.
And efforts will continue. On November 30th, a Food For Life team reached Bantayan Island, five hours’ drive and one hours’ barge travel from Cebu City.
“Municipal officials were very supportive of our Hare Krishna Food For Life team, eagerly and enthusiastically providing what we needed for our mission,” says Radha-Lila. “They were very happy when they heard that we were coming to help them -- especially that we were going to distribute cooked food to people in need of such basic necessities.”
Children competing to get and grab the food
Devotees have begun serving hot meals two times a day on Bantayan Island, with team head Baladeva Das reporting that many people were starving and rushing to grab food. Chef Rajendra Das and his assistant cooks worked tirelessly day and night preparing food and distributing it to people.
At times exhausted and feeling like they wanted to give up, it was the smiles on the faces of typhoon victims young and old as they received prasadam that kept the devotee volunteers going.
“Their bright faces gave me a spark of hope and relief, and I was ready to cook for more and more people,” one said with a smile.
“During the past thirteen days, we have seen so many things for the first time,” Radha-Lila says. “We’ve seen people who have lost their loved ones, their homes, their money, everything -- and who are hankering even for water to drink. These sights fill us with such emotion, and give us more determination to go on and try to help more people.”
Logistical problems can make Food For Life’s efforts difficult, however.
Distributing food to the evacuees newly arrive in Villamore Airbase
“Most people we meet express their overwhelming happiness as they receive the cooked food,” says Radha-Lila. “But feeding them just one time is not enough. The limited amount of cooked food we bring to different places every day is not enough to fill the stomach of everyone in each barangay. So we try to prepare heavy meals like rice and viand (mixed vegetables with soy beans).”
Food For Life is also running out of raw materials and vegetables to cook, and transportation is difficult as they don’t have their own vehicles. They could use help in these areas.
But the difficulties are not stopping them.
The last time we at ISKCON News spoke to Food For Life Philippines, they were already preparing another team to continue distributing hot meals in Tacloban and other nearby cities.
“Our Food for Life teams prioritize feeding people in remote places that don’t receive support even from the government,” Radha-Lila says. “Most of these people are not ready to leave their locations, and many don’t even have the choice.”
Volunteers from San Antonio High School
For more information, please visithttp://foodforlifeph.webs.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or contact (+632) 215-0076, 890-1947, or 0917-8378176 and ask for Radha-Lila (Julie Anne), Ananda, Gopal or Gopi Mata
To send donations please use the following bank details:
Account Name: ISKCON Sri Sri Radha-Madhava Mandir-Food for Life or ISSRMM-Food for Life
Account Number: 291-729182246-7
Bank: Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company
Branch: Bagtikan, Makati City
Swiftcode / IBAN code: MBTCPHMM[ book-distribution ] [ food ] [ food-for-life ] [ life ] [ philippines ] [ typhoon ]