Aida, our former housekeeper, was born in the Philippines. Her sisters and brothers are directly affected by the super-typhoon that hit Tacloban.
The deadly storm, Typhoon Haiyan followed hot on the heels of a 7.2 earthquake that hit Bohol on October 15 and has further devastated the towns and villages of Aida's family and friends.
World catastrophes can make us feel very helpless in the face of such enormous devastation and tumult.
And what is going on in the Philippines right now, is a prime example of the perfect storm that has destroyed whole areas and taken with it, peoples' lives, homes, belongings and basic essentials such as clean water and electricity.
We have texted daily to check in with Aida. She came to visit yesterday for hugs and tea.
We gave her time and space to tell her family's story and that of their neighbors and friends.
She explained how the earthquake had already left so many people vulnerable, that the typhoon was a second blow to a beleaguered country.
We talked together with Aida, about ways we can support her as she supports her family. We discussed how best to give support to the victims and decided to give Aida a check to send to her family directly, to use and disperse to people they know in their vicinity.
This strategy can and should apply in other situations.
Even if we, in countries far from the Philippines, want to help, it is hard to know what to do in these circumstances and to know what will be most useful.
We watch the endless news reels of lives in ruins and wonder how we can make a difference and bring comfort to any one person of the millions in need.
A friend tells you about a neighbor who had a devastating house fire
A colleague talks about the many miscarriages her daughter has had.
A neighbor tells you about her friend's imminent loss of a young spouse.
We cannot help the people directly affected, personally. We do not know them. And these situations can leave us feeling helpless and overwhelmed.
But there IS something very important we can do.
We can support the person who has told us the story.
When you ask someone, "What can I do to help?" And they don't have an answer, that doesn't have to be the end of the conversation.
Your next question can be,
" How can I support you?"
"What will bring you comfort so that you have the strength to support your friend/neighbor/colleague?"
By bringing comfort in this way you have gone from feeling helpless to helpful in one simple step.
By asking these questions, listening to their story and expressing your concern for them, you have already made a difference.
If you do want to send money to the Philippines, here are many ways You Can Help Survivors of Typhoon-Haiyan .
Have you ever been on the receiving end of this kind of support? In what situations have you given it? What has brought you comfort as you have helped others through a crisis?
Leave me a comment below.
I'm here to support you as you support others. Let me know how I can help you.
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