Making a change

What is a catastrophe?

Following a dry and windy January in many parts of Norway, Norwegian media is showing us dramatic live pictures from fires out of control. Buildings and areas of our heritage has been consumed by fire and numerous families have lost their homes in the conflagrations in Lærdal, Flatanger and Frøya. Large forces of fire fighters are giving their best efforts in constraining the destructions at Frøya as I am writing this.

Luckily there has been no loss of lives in any of the fires. Despite the dramatic pictures and the fact that one of the fires started just before midnight, after people had gone to bed, has the impressive efforts of fire departments and volunteers prevented the most tragic outcome.

To the families affected, there are few scenarios more dramatic than losing home, belongings and safety. Personally we easily enter into their feelings and picture how it is to lose irreplaceable memorabilia, and consequently there has been a tremendous involvement from the Norwegian people. Before we were able to recover from the shock of how vulnerable we all are in such a helpless situation, people in a large area around Lærdal started donating clothes, furniture and plush animals, as well as raising money for the afflicted. A generous gesture that was highly appreciated by a grateful local society.

In a personal catastrophe like this, the victims were lucky to live in Norway. Crisis teams were established to assist in the immediate phase, insurance companies started paying out assurance the next day and hospitalisation is free of charge. When they needed it the most, Norway and Norwegians put their arms around the afflicted.

Not everyone is as fortunate as we are in Norway. The victims after typhoon Haiyan that hit the Philippines early in November, are still in need of emergency aid in form of clean water, food and shelter, not to mention assistance in getting back on their feet; rebuilding their homes and eventually their lives.

Norwegian Hull Club's humanitarian financial support is aimed towards long-term projects, but when a catastrophe hits, like it did in the Philippines, it is our corporate social responsibility to contribute. Through "Making Change Norway" we have had the pleasant opportunity of contributing not only in emergency aid, but also in the long-term processes of rebuilding lives. Their project "Operation Haiyan Filippinene (Philippines)" was established immediately after the devastating landfall of the typhoon, and hand-selected veterans from Making Change Norway set course for Tacloban the following day to assist and facilitate search and rescue efforts as well as providing medical assistance in a field hospital that was set up. The organisation is still present in the area, having entered the third phase of their operation; reconstruction.

Numerous fishing boats were destroyed in the typhoon, and in addition to losing their homes and their belongings, many people of Tacloban also lost their source of income and their ability to feed their families. Making Change therefore made the decision to focus on helping the local society in rebuilding their fleet of fishing vessels.

Being a major player in the maritime industry in a shipping nation that to a large extent recruit seafarers from the Philippines, Norwegian Hull Club became very enthusiastic about Making Change's reconstruction project and the employees decided to cancel the Christmas party and donate the money to the production of 40 fishing boats in Tacloban. Following the process from a distance, we are looking forward to meet with the new owners and see the work finished whilst visiting the area as part of a business trip to Manila mid-March. We admire the work of Making Change Norway, and we admire the people of Tacloban, that is getting back on their feet after a catastrophe so devastating that it is hard for us to understand.

Meanwhile they are fighting the fire on Frøya with all means. The destructions of nature and buildings are increasing. But people are evacuated to safe areas. And the insurance companies are on their way.

Follow Making Change's "Operation Haiyan Philippines" on Facebook.

29. Jan. 2014