Philippines by Jo Castro

Travel has an aura of glamour. Doesn’t it?

But not today, not if you are in The Philippines, a country which is suffering huge floods and torrential rain., Reuters
Photo:, Reuters

Imagine this

Your home is underwater, and the few possessions you had have floated away. Waterborne diseases are rampant and your children are suffering from dysentery. The local hospital is submered under water, thousands of people need food, clothing, water and medicines. A landslide has buried a number of  houses and emergency crews are trying to rescue and evacuate tens of thousands of people some of whom are still trapped, in the rain, on rooves.

This is the reality right now, today in The Philippines.

Philippine Floods

The situation is really bad, and today I’m putting out a plea to anyone who can help.

I lived in the Philippines for nearly four years and made friends with Annette Helbig, President and CEO of The Springboard Foundation, a foundation that is dedicated to helping those in need, particularly the Filipino youth.

“We need help,” she told me yesterday from Manila. “We desperately need money to buy food and deliver supplies. People in evacuation centres  need the most basic of basic items, major roads are impassable. These are the worst floods I’ve seen in my 27 years of living here. I’m just hoping and praying that this rain will stop.”

“At least 16 people have been killed and 250,000 have fled their homes after more than 24 hours of torrential rain in the Philippines capital Manila.”

“Ten cities and provinces have been placed under a state of calamity, with more than a million people in the northern region affected by floods and landslides.”

“Schools, businesses and most government offices in the city are closed with more than 300,000 households without electricity” Australian Network News

That was yesterday. Today the news is that 850,000 people are housed in evacuation centres and many people have died.

If you can help in any small way, please consider donating to the Springboard Foundation – it’s easy. Please click on the link HERE if you can.

For as long as I’ve known Annette, she’s always put the needs of other before hers. Ok so you don’t know her, have probably never met her, so I decided to ask her a few questions so that she can tell you more about what she does.

Philippine Floods
Photos  provided by Annette Helbig and Mark Ypon via Craig Burrows.

Where does she come from?

Annette hails from Germany and has five children. They were brought up and lived in a suburb just outside of Manila which is where we first met. My son and her eldest son became great friends, as did my daughter and her youngest daughter. Annette was always busy not only with her family but also behind the scenes; helping at orphanages, helping at her church, or sitting on charitable committees.

What was your original motivation for starting Springboard Foundation?

“I’ve lived in Manila for 27 years. 10 years ago I started Springboard because the need I saw everywhere simply left no choice but to do something. So I just got started. I also got my Masters in Development Management to have the professional know-how to run it, and once I got going the Foundation just started growing and growing. People love to have a place to donate to where they know the money goes straight to the people who need it.”

What has been the ‘highest’ achievement for you?

“I don’t really know. I don’t think any of it is an achievement it is just a response to what is needed. It is a special grace to be able to help.”

What has been the lowest point?

“Driving a makeshift boat in a flooded area that had been under water for months and seeing people living on roof tops and in flooded evacuation centres, totally cramped with no privacy and hardly any hygienic facilities. And there was just not enough to really help them. We heard that so much money was given to the Philippines by other governments and we had no chance to access any of it because small local Non Government Organizations are usually left to fend for themselves. The big ones like the Philippine Red Cross or international organizations do not coordinate with us.”

What is the most heartwarming thing that ever happened?

“So many times I am overwhelmed with gratitude to be in a place where I can make things better. Being told that the renovation of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit resulted in a reduction of 40% mortality rate was amazing to hear while looking at the Mums with their little ones in such difficult circumstances. Or seeing people re-build their homes after typhoons or fire with material we donated and hearing how much it means to them to have a roof over their heads again. Seeing the smile of a Mum after her daughter had a cleft-lip palate operation that turned the little one into a beautiful little girl.”

And the funniest?

“The funniest, hm… they often introduce me as Mrs. Hell-Bitch (my surname is Helbig, and many Philippinos don’t know how to pronounce it). I like it – it’s so powerful!”

The Future?

“I have no idea.  I try to plan ahead but really, I just have to go with the flow. Emergencies happen all the time and we never know how much is donated to us. So planning if difficult, I wish we had a greater number of regular donors so that we have an idea how much our budget will be in the future.”

Anything else you’d like to add?

“I love the work I’m doing and can only invite people to get involved and make a difference. It is just such a great feeling to be able to help, you just never feel sorry for yourself or fall into depression or self-pity, there is always something wonderful out there that you can do and that give great joy. There has certainly never been a boring day in my life ever, if I get a breather or a moment for myself I truly treasure it.”

To donate to The Springboard Foundation, please visit HERE, DONATE.

Your donation will go towards supporting schools, health care centers, orphanages and homes for street children. Annette began the Springboard Foundation some 10 years ago when she saw an urgent need for young Filipinos to grow up in caring homes with access to good education, nutrition, medical care and good quality career opportunities. “We are making a difference to the lives of children in need,” says Annette.

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  1. what an amazing person Annette must be and so humble about her work and achievements – “It is a special grace to be able to help.”
    Thank you Jo for bringing her cause to our notice.

  2. Thanks Jill, and yes she is. She’s doing amazing things in Manila and is dedicated to making other people’s lives better. An inspiration to me.

  3. Thank you Jo. This is so well done and so timely. We do need help in Manila. We now have people falling ill from the bad weather and floods. Looks like we need to organize some medical missions as well. At least it stopped raining now, but last time we had such a bad flood it took months for the flooding to recede. Hugs to you. A 🙂

  4. I’m so glad I can help if even a little bit by getting the word out there. The flooding and conditions, sound and look terrible, and as you say the problems won’t just go away when the floods eventually recede. I’ve also posted onto FB and to the Travel Bloggers Page with a call out too. I hope you get some good responses. Sending you lots of hugs and hope 🙂 xx

  5. I was blissfully ignorant of the floods so it was good that you have bought this to our attention, Jo. Annette is a truly amazing person and it was interesting to read her story.

  6. We are so close to Asia in Perth, and yet, as you say, it’s easy to be unaware of what’s going on. Annette is amazing and Springboard is doing great things. Thanks for reading.

  7. Thanks Annette, and thanks so much to all the people who have read this post and responded (you are many 🙂 ) To anyone else, Please consider helping The Springboard Foundation if you haven’t yet, and you can 🙂

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