We have many amazing stories to share here, but this one is particularly inspiring:
In August when Kerala was devastated by the huge floods the Keralan community in the Diocese of Plymouth all had family affected by the emergency. As they were preparing their own response they were approached by the Filipino community in the diocese to see if they could help because of their gratitude for the support shown to them during Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.
Merlyn McGuire, leader of the Filipino community in the area, said: “The emotions of seeing people in such a situation as the Kerala floods drove me to help organise this event. I am from the Philippines, which is a country that has seen a lot of havoc. My heart goes out to the people affected – I could see myself in their situation.”
So together the two communities came together to organise a Harvest Supper of authentic Indian and Filipino food to raise funds for CAFOD’s and our Caritas partner’s in India emergency Keralan Floods appeal. In less than two weeks they’d reached out across the Catholic parishes in the Plymouth area and in their workplaces, particularly the local hospitals, and sold over 250 tickets!!!
The Harvest Supper was a great success thanks to all the volunteers who cooked and ran the event, with all who attended enjoying a tasty Keralan and Filipino meal and the great atmosphere. People came from across the city, as well as from the Catholic community a good number came from the city’s hospitals where many of the Kralan community work. All in all including with donations and raffle income too, the amazing event raised an inspirational £3,300!
Sadly, on the night of the Kerala Flood Fundraiser the Philippines was battered by ‘super-typhoon’ Mangkhut! That night the organisers planned another event a month later to support CAFOD/Caritas’ response for those affected by the ‘super-typhoon’. This time the event drew in around 150 people again from the Catholic parishes and from friends of the Filipino across the region and raised a fab £1,950!
Merlyn said “We were so happy with the amount we raised in a just a few hours and with the response from the community. We were so happy to have been able to work the Keralan community, who were so supportive and worked so hard. We had a good response, and my friends from the Filipino community helped me – bringing noodles, cake and dessert! The money we raised from both events went straight to CAFOD and their Caritas Partners in Kerala and the Philippines.”
Raphy George, one of the lead organisers and a representative of the Keralan community, added: “These joint efforts by the Filipino and Indian communities in the city. There has been great solidarity and compassion from the Filipino side and we are so grateful to work alongside them for all those affected by the natural disasters. We had a very good team behind us now and we were able to cook for hundreds of people from different walks of society, so we’ve also spread the word widely!”
It’s fair to say the events were a huge success raising a combined total over £5250 for CAFOD’s and our international Caritas partner’s responses to both emergencies. In India our Church partners rebuilding people’s lives after the floods are Caritas India, official development arm of the Catholic Church in India. CAFOD’s Filipino partners are Caritas Philippines known locally as NASSA (National Secretariat for Social Action, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines CBCP), Caritas Manila alongside the USA’s Caritas agency Catholic Relief Services (CRS).
Our huge thanks in particular go to lead organisers Merlyn McGuire, Raphy George, Benny Palatti, Joshy Vargheese, Veron Farrow President of Filipino British Association in Plymouth (FBAIP) and Roly Cawaing President of Filipino British Society (FBS) who helped organise the events; as well as all of the amazing members of Plymouth’s Kerala Community and from the Filipino community organisations FBAIP and FBS! All of their efforts are already transforming the lives of many of our sisters and brothers affected by both natural disasters.
To find out more about how CAFOD helps in an emergency, visit: cafod.org.uk/emergencies