The Canadian Air force sit at one end, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) at the other. Between the two hues of green* sit UN agencies including UNICEF and UNOCHA, and a smattering of other NGOs.
I have just arrived at the command centre for the response to Typhoon Haiyan on Panay Island. Sitting in the centre of Roxas City the Capitol Building, normally filled with government workers and other civic service staff, was the natural choice for the co-ordinated response to this disaster. It’s safe, recognised as the hub of regional leadership and big enough to hold the increasing number of responders in the area.
Humanitarian workers from across the globe sit on white chairs marked with ‘Capiz Gym’ around tables obviously dragged from offices across this big, old building. The table tops are scattered with maps, laptops, bundles of papers and large bottles of water.
The air is thick with talk – plans are being made, logistics organised and aid being delivered.
The idle chatter of many workplaces is non-existent. There is no ‘gossip around the water cooler’ –there is no water cooler, and no time for much more than a quick laugh to punctuate the haste.
On arrival I’m told ADRA was the only NGO to have delivered aid on Payan Island a week after the storm hit. And now the ADRA team are busy compiling their latest report – a needs assessment from an area only a few other NGOs have made contact with since Haiyan cut its deadly path across the Philippines.
This report will form the basis for ADRA’s ongoing relief efforts – ensuring those in greatest need receive what they need most in the most efficient way possible. The report will also be shared with the network of agencies here. Although the logos on shirts are different everyone is here for one purpose, and there’s no reason for secrets when lives are at stake.
ADRA’s impact is often undersold - a sense of humility is built firmly into the agency’s corporate personality. Though the team may be tucked into a corner of the large hall on the building’s third story it’s presence is well known.
The team may not be the largest, nor its geographic area of impact the greatest. But without ADRA here the team would not be complete, and lives would be lost.
The destruction wrought by Haiyan is massive to say the least, and the need it has left behind great. But a glance around the Command Centre reminds me that when people come together selflessly even greater things always occur, and I can’t help but feel proud of what ADRA is doing here.
*ADRA Philippines presence is highly visible thanks to the bright yellow shirts you see here. But the ADRA logo remains green.
- Braden Blyde has been deployed to the Philippines to manage all communications for the ADRA Network response to Typhoon Haiyan for two weeks.