Thank you, Iceland (MAG)

Views

marvidlIt’s been a month since Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines and since then many countries have come forward and helped my motherland. Iceland was one of those countries (as I wrote in my column in mid-November, there are many connections between the two countries). From December 18 to 22, Filipinos are holding a “Thank You, Iceland” week.

The Filipino community in Iceland launched an appeal with the following initiated:

The Icelandic government contributed ISK 12.3 million (USD 100,000, EUR 75,000).

UNICEF in cooperation with the Filipino-Icelandic Association, Inang Wika (Filipino Mother Tongue Association) and Phil-Ice held a benefit luncheon in Reykjavík. The luncheon collected ISK 700,000 (USD 6,000, EUR 4,400). Another benefit luncheon was also set up in Dalvík, North Iceland. UNICEF also put up a phone line for pledges and collected around ISK 15 million.

The Icelandic Red Cross: A donation line was also set set up. I am uncertain how much was collected but a few private companies donated directly to the Red Cross. The Red Cross also set up a service assisting Filipinos in Iceland in locating their missing family members. This was very helpful as a significant percentage  of Filipinos in Iceland are from the affected areas. Six Red Cross specialists were also sent to the Philippines and remain there today.

SOS Children’s Villages (SOS Barnahjálp): Around ISK 3 million was collected and sent to the Philippines through a donation hotline. I would like to point out that SOS has a Children’s Village in three locations (Tacloban, Samar and Cebu) that were badly affected by the typhoon. In Iceland, there are also 76 SOS foster parents who directly support children in the Philippines.

Private Companies, Organizations & Individuals: I cannot even begin to fathom the generosity of Icelandic companies. Many gave directly to UNICEF or the Red Cross. But as examples: Kampi ehf (shrimp processing company in the town of Ísafjörður) gave ISK 700,000, Myllan ehf. (bread products) gave ISK 100,000, CCP (Eve Online) collected IS 22 million in in-game donations, artist Erna Kristín Stefánsdóttir gave ISK 70,000, Gaia, the Student Organization of the Masters Program in Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Iceland, lit candles to highlight climate change and Geoffrey Pettypiece who has long been a close friend to the Filipino community gave time, money and talent even offering free posters and Christmas card art to benefit Haiyan victims. There are more stories like these. Filipino organization FIA was even surprised to receive from a British resident (who has an Icelandic kennitala) ISK 200,000. He wishes to remain anonymous.

Filipino organizations in Iceland: Major Filipino organizations also put into motion several fund raising activities:

• FIA (Filipino-Icelandic Association) also set up a donation fund. The money directly benefited the hometowns of Filipinos in Iceland directly affected by the typhoon. Local (Philippine) rescue and relief groups were identified and sent aid. The group also collected used clothing and goods that are currently being sold at Kolaportið flea market.

• Phil-Ice initiated a bottle recycling campaign, collecting and donating proceeds to the Red Cross. The group, in cooperation with the Catholic Church in Iceland as well as the Red Cross, also held a candlelight vigil for those who passed.

• Filipinos in Hafnafjörður recently held a benefit luncheon on December 7 in cooperation with the Red Cross.

• Filipinos in Dalvík also put together a benefit luncheon (also in cooperation with UNICEF).

I am sure that I may have missed a few other fundraising efforts and apologize for that. We are happy that help was extended.

But, we Filipinos still swallow silent tears of grief at stories our friends and family tell us and we know that this is just the beginning and that it is a long road ahead to rebuilding one third of our devastated land. Let it not be said though that in this instance, Iceland and Icelanders stood by and did nothing.

We are thankful.

Marvi Ablaza Gil - raintribe@gmail.com

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.