Philippines: PRC distribute Noche Buena to Legazpi evacuees

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Last December 24, Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Chairman Senator Richard Gordon, Secretary General Gwendolyn Pang, and staff visited four evacuation centers in Legazpi, Albay to distribute food items and water jugs to displaced residents whose homes are within the extended danger zone.

The picturesque Mt. Mayon spewed out smoke and ashes, a forewarning of its imminent eruption.

PRC distributed food items to Bagumbayan Central School, Albay Central School, Daraga National High School and Daraga North Central School.

According to Hermelina Avellano, an evacuee, about 18 families were cramped in a single classroom of Bagumbayan Central School. Due to lack of sufficient food in their temporary homes, she confessed that she goes back to her home near the volcano once in a while to gather vegetables.

When asked why she would risk her life encroaching the extended danger zone, she reasoned that if not for gathering vegetables, they would have no money to buy the things they needed.

To address the evacuees' needs, the Red Cross thought of sending them something for Christmas. Instead of using the term "relief goods," PRC Chairman Richard Gordon preferred to call the food items Christmas packages for the evacuees' Noche Buena. It consisted of spaghetti noodles, spaghetti sauce and other festive nourishments.

Mrs. Avellano who has been displaced from her home for almost a week, said that she was thankful for the food items that the Red Cross was distributing.

"Even if you are poor and displaced from your homes, it doesn't mean you have to lose your dignity," said Gordon.

"The PRC has come to give you Noche Buena, not relief goods, because we want to restore your dignities especially this Christmas!" he added.

According to PRC Albay Chapter, the town of Camalig was having problems with water supply and latrines, so Gordon urged the National Headquarters to mobilize water trucks to supply the needs of the people.

A rub hull was also set up in Bariw Elementary School, where medical operations would be carried out. However, Chairman Gordon was dubious with the location, saying that it was too far from the people who might need immediate medical attention.

So Gordon ordered the dismantling of the tent in Bariw E.S. in Camalig, Albay and reinstall smaller tents in the evacuation centers. Through this and the hygiene promotion program, Red Cross continuously proves that it is an organization ready to stand by the needs of the people.