CHICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – A Japanese legend of folding a thousand paper cranes as symbols of peace and hope inspired a Vietnamese American school girl to raise funds and bring a message of peace and hope to Filipino children, who survived super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in the Philippines two months ago.
Tenth grader Francis Nguyen (pronounced nuhWIN or WIN) along with friends Chieu Le, Teresa Do and Kali Gabriel asked their families and friends to fold one thousand paper cranes to sell at a dollar a piece to be donated to the Filipino children devastated by the typhoon in Central Philippines.
Meanwhile, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. asked the U.S. government to allow the duty-free importation of products from areas devastated by Typhoon Haiyan to spur the recovery and rehabilitation of the affected communities.
When she turned over the paper cranes and the $1,000 she raised for the typhoon survivors to Ambassador Cuisia at the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C., Nguyen said, “Cranes symbolize hope, health, happiness, and longevity. People need something to hope for and smile about when they believe there isn’t much to look forward to in their future.”
She explained, “The Crane Project, which seeks to bring hope after devastation, was inspired by the Japanese myth that if one folded a thousand cranes, his or her wish would be granted.”
CUISIA THANKS VIET AMS FOR THEIR KINDESS, GENEROSITY
“I would like to thank you for your kindness, generosity, and prayers. The children in the Philippines, especially those orphaned by the typhoon, need those things you mentioned—hope, health, happiness, and longevity—as we move from the relief phase to the rehabilitation phase,” said Ambassador Cuisia, who also received at least $18,000 from representatives of the Vietnam Buddhist Center and the Tu Bi Foundation.
Nguyen first folded paper cranes following the earthquakes and tsunami that struck Japan in 2011. “We think of it not as helping victims but helping friends and family,” said Nguyen as she recalled how thousands of Vietnamese found friends and family in the Filipino people during the migration of the boat people starting in 1975.
Le along with Nguyen and representatives of the Vietnam Buddhist Center and Tu Bi Foundation also expressed their sympathies to Ambassador Cuisia for those who lost their lives, homes and loved ones during Typhoon Haiyan.
Venerable Thich Nguyen Hanh, Abbott of the Vietnam Buddhist Center, said, “We comfort each other in the face of enormous tragedy and loss of life, which reminded me of the massive migration of the Vietnamese boat people fleeing Vietnam to find freedom in 1975 and landing in the Philippines.”
The paper cranes and funds raised were turned over by Ambassador Cuisia to Feed the Hungry, Inc., a Philippine-based, volunteer organization aimed at uplifting the spirit and well-being of the poor through feeding, community and economic development, gift giving, education scholarships, classroom building, and calamity relief and emergency medical assistance programs.
JUST LIKE HAITI
Meanwhile, Ambassador Cuisia, Jr. also announced a plan for a duty-free importation of products in the U.S. from the devastated areas in his remarks at a conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on the role of the United States government and military, the private sector and non-government organizations in responding to the devastation.
“Similar to what the United States did following the Haiti earthquake, the Philippines is looking at possible trade preference for products from Haiyan-affected areas,” Ambassador Cuisia said.
In his presentation, Ambassador Cuisia again expressed his appreciation to the US Government and the American people for the generous assistance extended to the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.
The typhoon, one of strongest in recorded history, killed as 6,183 people dead, affected 2.6 million families and displaced 930,000 others. Another 28,626 people were injured and 1,785 people remain missing. It also left more than $12.9 million in damages.
According to the ambassador, the total US assistance package from the US government alone is estimated at around $85 million and covered food aid, shelter materials, clean water, and hygiene education and supplies for affected families as well as protection for vulnerable populations.
This amount includes the $25 million in additional aid announced by Secretary of State John Kerry during his visit to Tacloban in December. The US Chamber of Commerce Typhoon Haiyan Corporate Aid Tracker has also reported over $51.8 million of business pledges to support recovery efforts as of December 5.
MUCH WORK TO BE DONE
“There is much work to be done, and in the spirit of the alliance and partnership we have shared, we continue to count on your invaluable assistance,” Ambassador Cuisia said, adding that at least $8.2 billion is needed for the Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda Plan that the Philippine government unveiled last month.
He said the Philippines will continue to need assistance in the long-term recovery and rehabilitation of 171 municipalities in four regions of the country that have been identified as priority areas for assistance.
According to the ambassador, the priority needs that have been identified include shelter, food, debris removal, water systems and access to sanitation facilities. Other priorities include livelihood, public health services, education and national protection capacity.
The forum entitled “US Response to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines” was hosted by CSIS and Abbott, and moderated by Murray Hiebert, Deputy Director and Senior Fellow and Ernest Bower, Senior Adviser at the Sumitro Chair for Southeast Asian Studies of CSIS.
Panelists from the US government were, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Scot Marciel of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Department of State; Deputy Assistant Administrator for Asia Gregory Beck, US Agency for International Development; and Brig. Gen. Joaquin F. Malavet, Principal Director of Asia and Pacific, Office of the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense at the Department of Defense.
Panelists from the private sector were Marc DeCourcey, Executive Director of the Business Civil Leadership Center of the US Chamber of Commerce; Thomas Tighe, Chief Executive Officer of Direct Relief; Kate Irvin, Group Director for Diplomatic Relations of the Coca-Cola Company; Chris Palusky, Senior Director of Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs of World Vision; Suki McClatchey from Abbott; and Evangeline Ganuelas, Executive Director of Feed the Hungry, Inc.
PHOTO CAPTION AND CREDIT
FOLDING A THOUSAND CRANES: Ambassador Cuisia (left) with members of the Vietnamese Community who turned over almost $20,000 they were able to raise for victims of Typhoon Yolanda, including $1,000 raised by Tenth Grader Francis Nguyen from a paper crane folding fund-raising project. (Philippine Embassy Photo by Majalya Fernando)