Local councillor brings Fermoy's aid contribution to Philippines
Fermoy town councillor, Noel Barnes, was far away from the stormy conditions which lashed the region over Christmas and the New Year.
Yet, although he was in altogether warm and sunnier climes, in an ironic twist of fate, he was delivering aid to a country that had already been devastated by stormy conditions.
Noel and his wife Juliet, were very involved in fundraising efforts in the Fermoy area following typhoon Hiyan (or Yolanda as it is known in the Philippines) which struck their in early November, resulting in huge loss of life, injuries and people in some parts losing their homes and their livelihoods.
Juliet is from Manila, capital of the Philippines. Among the initiatives they helped organise was a clothes drive as they'd been told there was a shortage of clothing following the typhoon. The couple were taken aback by the generosity of people in Fermoy and its environs as they responded with substantial donations of clothes as well as money to a variety of fundraisers held locally.
Juliet travelled home shortly before Christmas with the couple's children to personally oversee the container of aid being distributed as they wanted it to be deployed to one of the areas worst affected. Noel, who owns a jewellers shop on Patrick Street, joined his family just after Christmas.
"Nothing could have prepared me for the devastation," he told The Avondhu this week. Having taken a flight from Manila to Cebu he then had a four hour bus journey and a 30 minute boat ride to get to the beautiful island of Malapascua. It was night time and the streets were pitch black except for the fires of people cooking. All power was gone.
"In the day you could see how the palm trees had been snapped like twigs from the powerful wind and lots of their houses flattened or partially destroyed," he said.
"The people here are resourceful and resilient but you can only do so much when you live on an island that has so little access and being so far away from the mainland it gets largely bypassed by international aid," Noel explained, saying "If it wasn't for some ex-pats living here God knows what it would be like."
Noel sent The Avondhu some pictures from Malapascua, showing locals collecting clothing that had been sent from Fermoy and conditions on the island.
"Thankfully the people of Fermoy has helped this community to get back to some normality and Juliet and myself will be forever thankful" he said.
Friday 10th January 9:30am