Typhoon Haiyan: One Year On

It's hard to believe that it's been a year since Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines. Just four weeks earlier, we had, in a strange hand of fate, agreed to choose CARE International as our emergency relief partner. That agreement had barely been put into place when Typhoon Haiyan - Yolanda as it's known locally - became the strongest storm to ever make landfall. It devastated parts of the Philippines leaving thousands of people dead and millions more displaced from their homes.

We quickly launched an appeal to galvanize the poker community, not to mention our staff, and the generosity was overwhelming. We raised more than $100,000 in 48 hours. Two weeks later, that figure had passed $280,000, which, as we had with previous appeals, we agreed to match dollar for dollar. In all, we passed on more than $560,000 to CARE to help with the emergency.

We were recently invited by CARE to visit the area worst affected. Tacloban, a growing coastal city some 360 miles southeast of Manila, had been hit hard and had received a lot of support from CARE in the days, weeks and months that followed. This was an opportunity for us to show you how your money was spent, the difference it made to so many people and how they are now empowered to be better prepared for the future.

CARE's approach isn't to just drop food parcels. Haiyan hadn't just taken lives and destroyed homes, it had uprooted livelihoods. For instance, around 70% of the coconut tree population had been leveled. Those trees, which were a significant source of income for some, take eight years to grow back. Your money hasn't just helped to rebuild shelter, it's helped to provide schemes that give people the chance to make their own money. You've helped to rebuild lives, not just homes.


Your donations have made a big difference

It was a humbling experience to see people smiling through the adversity and being happy with the simple things: a roof over their heads, a means to put food on the table. The trip was particularly timely: Typhoon Ruby hit Tacloban shortly after we left. While the news was heartbreaking to hear, I was relieved to hear from CARE that the preventative measures had made a real difference and should make recovery swifter.

If you contributed to this appeal last year then please accept a huge thank you from us, from CARE and from the people of the Philippines. I hope this video shows some of the good that you helped to deliver. We hope that you'll join us in future appeals.

We are currently supporting CARE with their appeal for the Ebola Crisis so please donate if you can, which can be done using FPPs in the VIP Store.

Sue Hammett is Head of Corporate Giving for Rational Group.

Sue Hammett
@PokerStars in Inside PokerStars