What to do in social media after a disaster

For overseas Filipinos, social media is an important tool to monitor the crisis as it happens in the Philippines. Rather than keep up with selfies and lunch stories in Facebook, here's how you can use social media in times of disasters such as super typhoon Yolanda.

5 tips on how overseas Filipinos can help in times of calamities

Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) wrought such great havoc to the Philippines: public infrastructures, communication lines, and homes were instantly destroyed in Leyte, Samar, and nearby coastal towns. Several days after the super typhoon hit, the Philippines continue to suffer from the aftermath of Yolanda's wrath. But our people are proving to the world once again how resilient we are, taking to the task of rebuilding despite the grim reality.

Still, it is not to say that our country has all the help it needs. We need all the help we can get, in whatever form. We need it from everyone. Help even from overseas Filipinos who are miles away or even an ocean apart from Tacloban and all other severely affected provinces. Here are some tips on how you can reach out:

#1 Plan what you can give

Pause for a moment and evaluate what you have. If you would like to donate money, support fund-raising initiatives, or buy relief goods, work on your budget first and figure out other monthly expenses you can cancel so that you won't have to break the bank just to help out. Remember that in order to sustainably help others, you also need to help yourself.

While donating money is the most convenient and efficient way to help the victims of calamities, it's not the only thing you can give out. Go through your personal items and see if you have things you can give that are useful and essential for disaster relief such as working flashlights and batteries, extra blankets, towels, and clothes in good condition.

#2 Mind what you're giving

Understand that what you need right now are not the same things you need when you're in an evacuation center or on the road with nothing to eat. So, strike out high heels, leather jackets, or electric appliances. To help, some people would conduct yard sales and online auctions to sell such items and then donate the proceeds to international disaster aid organizations.

#3 Find out where you should give

Identify the causes you want to support. Are you OK with just giving out to the victims in general? Or would you care to focus more on a particular group such as small children, sick mothers, weak elders, the disabled? Having this in mind, you can search for a trusted organization that will help mobilize such cause. Take time in learning about the organization itself (efficiency and financial transparency) before making your donation. Or else, you may have to count yourself as a victim as well. Some charitable institutions to start with include:

  • Red Cross
  • Oxfam
  • Global Fund for Women
  • Sagip Kapamilya

#4 Consider giving your time and sharing your talents

Because many are such in deep distress after a disaster, Filipinos shouldn't stop with just giving financial dole-outs. If we really want to get somewhere and somehow stop the cycle of requesting aid, invest your time and talents to give back to our country. If you want to see some action, campaign for it. If you think there should be some accountability, demand change. Write about it, spread the word, ask others to help, push for your own solutions. Don't be complacent just because you're abroad. When you act, somebody might notice and listen. Like-minded people will support you. Just don't settle. Not yet.

#5 Give without a heavy heart

Don't expect for immediate calm and order: trauma from the calamity, the instinct for survival, and an otherwise ineffective bureaucracy might get the upper hand at the onset. While it's natural to feel bad when you hear stories about looting, corruption, and slow progress of aid despite your contributions, it's important to manage your expectations. Continue to demand change, but don't get trapped in endless complaining, unproductive finger-pointing, and making harsh judgments. Remember that we're trying to restore and rise above the disaster and not create a new one for ourselves.

Last, but definitely not the least, continue to #PrayforthePhilippines! Seeing an overwhelming support from different sectors and countries around the world just proves that there is still hope for us. We just need to keep going.

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