NAVAL STATION GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba - Organizers of the Filipino Haiyan Relief Fund gathered at the Navy Exchange Nov. 22, to present more than 20 Filipino’s who work at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with donations collected to aide their families.
After Haiyan hit, 24 out of the 1,500 Filipinos who work on base, reported significant impact to their families or homes following the storm that hit earlier this month.
“My house is completely destroyed, but I found out that my family is alive,” said Roberto Torres, a native of Leyte, Philippines, and Roe Service Corporation and Dick Corporation contracted carpenter.
“Receiving support here is amazing because this way our families can get money directly from us,” he said.
The group raised more than $3,000 in the course of a two-week period to help support GTMO’s affected Filipinos. Torres received more than $400 to wire back to his family to purchase basic necessities.
“These are people we see every day and it was important that we help them directly,” said Tiana Armstrong, an organizer of the Haiyan Filipino Relief Fund. “When we know that our work is directly affecting their lives, it makes our hard work worthwhile. We’re just trying to help.”
The Haiyan Filipino Relief Fund also involved the Filipino – American Group, a GTMO organization that helps strengthen the ties between different cultures.
Joy Armand, president of the group, was also affected by Haiyan; her home in the Philippines being damaged, she helped raise funds for other victims and personally understands the effects the disaster had on residents here.
“Right now, victims here do not have too much money because they have to send it home to support their families due to Haiyan,” she said.
“The relief here has been very overwhelming and even though the GTMO community is small, it came together to support us in a big way,” she said, and added that the fundraiser reinforced to the Filipinos are a part of the GTMO community.
Working closely with human resources, and the Fil-Am organization, the Haiyan Relief Fund researched and cross-referenced each victim to ensure proper home of record before presenting the donations.
Armstrong said three people still have had no contact with their family since the Nov. 7 storm. The group is still collecting donations. For more information, call ext. 74303.