Support for Bury woman helping Philippines typhoon victims

Mary and Ramil Rendon
Mary and Ramil Rendon

The charitable trust supporting Bury-raised Mary Rendon and her husband Ramil’s work in the Philippines has received more than £5,000 in a week to help typhoon victims.

The couple run House of Joshua, which helps street children, and were supported by Bury Free Press readers when they helped flood victims in 2012.

They have been putting together a team to go to the typhoon area with medical supplies and the family-run Conroy Rendon Charitable Trust which supports them last week asked for donations.

Today Mary’s father Andy Conroy, of Scarlin Road, Bury St Edmunds, said: “We are so grateful to everybody who has contributed financially to the relief effort. we were able to send an initial payment of £2000 to enable food, medical supplies and other essentials to be purchased ahead of an outreach team from the House of Joshua, working in partnership with several churches and other agencies from Cagayan De Oro City, heading to Leyte this coming week to distribute aid and minister to the suffering.

“Since then a further £3000+ has been received / promised and will be sent out shortly. This will be used to buy further supplies when a second outreach team goes out in a couple of weeks time.”

Donations can be made at www.conroyrendoncharity.co.uk or contact the charity at 01284 703339. You can also sponsor a child.

Mary, a former County Upper School pupil, has sent this account of her experiences to her family:

“Ramil has found it really hard to watch the reports - seeing his people suffer - we have wept so much.

“Sometimes he has been so frustrated, shouting at the TV at the slow response of the government. It’s hard to understand why they have been so frozen - all the international news was saying the aid is coming but all the people are not seeing or receiving it - so frustrating and heartbreaking.

“I also saw a report this morning about an orphanage in Tacloban with 72 kids and only food and water for 1 more day. The director was trying to organise a bus to get the kids out as soon as possible. Before watching that we had been talking about the orphans last night and I said to Ramil that I had prayed and prepared before God my heart to do whatever he asks of us. Ramil’s response was ‘Let’s adopt 10 kids!’.

“We’ve lost touch with Charis [a friend in Tacloban] again and can’t get any response since Monday. I’ve been in touch with her sisters and cousins abroad. One of them was asking about another cousin from the coastal town of Hernani in Samar but we can’t find out any information.

“Our neighbours are collecting things from the village, and the churches who are partnering with us are all gathering stuff too, food and clothing.”

Thursday 14th

Gerson (House Parent at House of Joshua) and Pastor Jessie left by motorbike this morning from CDO to Ormoc ­— 14hrs by motorbike and boat — to reach a co-pastor there so that we will have a better idea about the things that are needed and the challenges for the trip. They got lost several times as there are no signs or buildings to use as landmarks for the way.

“They slept with the survivors last night on the street as there is nothing left. Gerson was quite emotional about the devastation, saying there is truly nothing left. They are gathering the Pastors to coordinate thingsonce the team arrive.”

Friday 15th

“From Gerson’s recommendation the team will leave Cagayan De Oro on Wednesday night as the journey is so long. They will pick up other volunteer and 6 boxes of medical stuff in Butuan and then meet Pastor Chester, who is bringing his van and a closed truck up from Davao, meeting in Surigao.

“They will also buy further relief supplies in Surigao and transfer everything into the truck so that it is less visible to outsiders and hopefully safer for the transportation before going to the port. Someone is already processing the paperwork in Surigao for the truck on the ferry so it will be as smooth as possible.

“They will take the ferry boat, (with truck and van) to Maasin and then travel up the coastal road north to Ormoc.Ramil will take our large cooking pots that we used for feeding people after Typhoon Sendong and they plan to cook hot food to serve for the people there — breakfast, lunch and dinner — and use the movie projector for the kids who have no toys, games or safe place to play.

“The team will distribute relief, pray and counsel trauma victims and then try to plan and work with the pastors for a strategic longer term plan for care and restoration in the area. There is no electricity, no running water and no toilets as all buildings are destroyed so it’s going to be ‘living rough’.

“We know there is no fuel in Ormoc so managing the petrol for the return trip is important. There are also reports of violence and hi-jacking so we are really praying that things settle down now that the international aid is starting to slowly come through - people are dying waiting for it though.”

Saturday 16th

“We have just been advised by the Department of Social Welfare & Development (DSWD) that there are 70 orphans who were evacuated from Tacloban to Davao (in the island of Mindanao) before the typhoon. We are considering whether we should take about 20 of them to House of Joshua, the children’s home that we run in Cagayan De Oro City.”

Sunday 17th

“An update on the situation regarding orphans from Tacloban: There were 70 orphans evacuated out of the city to another Christian orphanage/foundation in Davao (southern Mindanao) as a temporary measure but now the orphanage has been destroyed and there is nothing for them there in Tacloban.

“The foundation in Davao is stretched to their limit now that they have to care for these kids longer term and the Director in Davao would like to arrange for some of the children to be transferred from Davao to us (approx 20 boys). All their paperwork is in Tacloban, assuming it wasn’t destroyed too, (limited information available at the moment) but they need permission from the Tacloban director  who is still there to proceed so there is a lot of communicating efforts going back and forth.

“We have arranged for Ramil and Jay (one of the House Parents from House of Joshua) to fly to Davao on December 3rd so that they can meet with the Davao director and to meet the kids. In the meantime they will work to try and sort out the paperwork needed. In the longer term they cannot continue to care for these children so we are all working together on it.

“Obviously it would be a BIG change to House Of Joshua - we have 2 weeks to get some things in order practically - and to pray for everything to come together. I know for sure that God spoke to me a few days ago to be ready for orphans.

“I had been thinking about children who lost their parents in the typhoon knowing that would take a long time to sort out as the DSWD have to really be sure if they have truly lost their family members. It’s going to be a mess on that front for a while with so many evacuees being moved around to different places, displaced people, unidentified bodies and people missing; but it hadn’t occurred to me about children who were orphaned before the storm now needing somewhere to live.

“It’s still not all confirmed but we definitely need prayers for the whole process. If it all goes ahead we will be tripling the number of children at HOJ in the next few weeks. God showed me how to raise the money to support the kids so I’m not worried about that (*see my note below) He also showed me last night a plan how to integrate the kids and what we can do now to prepare and be ready.

“Our children, Ellianah (4) and Mikey (9), have now said they both want to be social workers to help people. ‘Yanah’ says she already knows how to help the sad people and that she is a social worker already. She has cried and prayed such lovely prayers.

“Josh (9) says he wants to be a missionary and go to help people too. The day after the typhoon he sat down and wrote a list of all the things the victims needed and then went upstairs and sorted out his clothes and came down with a bag of things to give.”