When typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan as it is known in the Philippines) struck on Nov 8, 2013, I took more than passing notice. It had, after all, struck the area I had worked in and where I had friends many years ago. I return in March 2014 to Tacloban and surrounding areas still reeling from 7000 dead and mile after mile of devastation too overwhelming for the mind to comprehend or words to describe. I brought my willing-to-help spirit, all the towels and sheets airline weight limits allowed, my therapeutic massage and alternative healing skills. I had been told that shelter was a primary need but only when I saw the endless destruction did 1,000,000 homeless move from abstraction to reality. I had managed to raise enough money to build four homes. A drop in the proverbial bucket but not for those families moving from salvaged wreckage and tarps to something resembling shelter.
 
 
 
 
“What! No toilets; no plumbing; no lights!?” exclaimed those to whom I recounted my trip upon my return home. One, Kathy Jo Kadziauskas, searched the web and discovered Unite-to Light right in our own back yard. She and others raised funds for 400 solar lights and for five more homes built for $800.00 and local barrio family labor. That was in November 2014 a year later but the area still in dire straits.
 
 
In December I was invited to present to the Carpinteria Morning Rotary, District 3850, which had been distributing these very same solar lights. They generously donated 200 lights. The IEEE donated 200 lights through Unite-to-Light which designated the Philippines as the recipient.  Other donors brought the total to 500 lights. Distribution was coordinated with the Philippine Lucena and Kaibo Rotary Clubs to facilitate reaching those most in need in Luzon and Visayas islands.
 
So three trips; 9 homes built; and 500 solar lights distributed.  Not worth the effort in the face of such great need?
 
Ask the family able to resume some semblance of predictable routine. Ask the parents who can tend to their children by a decent light instead of a dim cooking fire, kerosene or candle. Ask the students who can extend their study time and see a future through education; Ask the midwife who can forego candle and kerosene or night fishermen who can lure fish to feed their family and earn a little extra.
 
When one follows the thread that wends its way from a workplace in Tacloban long ago, to an inquisitive friend, to Unite-to-Light, to Rotaries in Carpinteria, Kalibo and Lucena, one knows together we are equal to the task for some strange synergy is at work. My plan is simple. More lights, more places throughout the Philippines.
 
 
Philippine Rotaries sing:
 
One Little Candle
 
It is better to light just one little candle,
Than to stumble in the dark!
Better far that you light just one little candle,
All you need's a tiny spark!
If we'd all say a prayer that the world would be free,
The wonderful dawn of a new day we'll see!
And, if everyone lit just one little candle,
What a bright world this would be!
Let's all light one little candle,
Why stumble on in the dark?
When the day is dark an' dreary,
And your way is hard to find,
Don't let your heart be weary,
Just keep this thought in mind!
It is better to light just one little candle,
Than to stumble in the dark!
Better far that you light just one little candle,
All you need's a tiny spark!
If we'd all say a prayer that the world would be free,
The wonderful dawn of a new day we'll see!
And, if everyone lit just one little candle,
What a bright world this would be!
What a bright world
this would be!
 
Music by kirtan
with Lyrics by Joseph Maloy Roach, Published 1952
 
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