FOR Bury-born Mary Rendon the pre-Christmas floods in the Philippines are not a news story but a disaster on her doorstep.
For her, the survivors of the flooding and landslides caused by Typhoon Washi are neighbours.
Mary, 31, and her Filipino husband Ramil have been working with street children in Cagayan de Oro, the city hit hardest by the floods.
They were lucky because they and their four children live on a hill, so they immediately offered food, blankets and comfort to people who had lost their homes.
Mary, a former County Upper School pupil, speaks the local language so was able to get immediate help moving but realised long term aid was more than she could manage.
She said: “There’s a great need for healthcare items.
“Aside from the enormous practical need there is, of course, much grief and emotional devastation as people start to recover from their shock and trauma.”
Mary’s work with the children is supported by her parents Jo and Andy Conroy, of Scarlin Road, Bury St Edmunds, through the Conroy-Rendon Charitable Trust, but such disaster support was beyond them.
But Jo is logistics manager for the award-winning charity Aid To Hospitals Worldwide (A2HW) so she asked them for help. Founded in Bury by Mike Coleman, A2HW normally sends refurbished medical equipment to developing countries.
They agreed to send a 64cuft, 40ft long shipping container of much-needed equipment and supplies directly to Mary.
Eager to fill every space in the container with useful items, A2HW turned to Bury Free Press readers for help with donations including food, baby milk, sheets and blankets (see our ‘shopping list’, right)
Mike said: “While not generally set up to respond to emergencies on this scale, we are so moved by the plight of the people and the local connection, we are pulling out all the stops to do what we can by way of urgent medical equipment. The welcome addition of donated food and blankets will really help to alleviate much of the suffering.”
Though worried about Mary and her family, Jo is throwing herself into the appeal effort.
She said: “Having visited the country many times and appreciated the gentle and caring nature of the Fillipinos, I am devastated with all that has happened.
“I’m particularly anxious for my daughter who working to bring comfort and support. But I am also grateful, for the way people are responding to the needs, especially A2HW.
“Of course, tinned foods and baby milk are crucial but so, too, is money. Extra funds can help The Conroy-Rendon Charitable Trust to purchase many immediate items on the ground.”
The shipping container is being paid for by A2HW out of Rotary Club donations, but now it is your turn to help.
Together, we can fill every corner of that container with items Mary says Filipinos need.
We can only accept the items she has asked for to ensure everything sent is of use.