By Kevin McRoberts
I’VE received three emails in the last few days from “dear friends” I’ve never heard of before who have contacted me for help after discovering all their personal possessions – wallet, passport etc – have been stolen.
They all decided to contact me in their hour of need to ask for help, just a few hundred pounds so they can fly home and then they’ll happily reimburse me.
I don’t usually pay these emails a lot of attention and generally just delete them – obviously I’m not a very good friend.
But this time their emails did make me stop and think.
You see, my three “dear friends” were all apparently getting in touch, completely independently of each other ... from Manila in The Philippines.
They’re not the first friends I don’t know who have apparently contacted me from there after befalling some mishap and in desperate need of my help to bail them out of whatever predicament they find themselves in.
It’s incredible the number of people who seem to know me and end up in trouble of one sort or another in Manila.
However, this time, while I’m sure the latest three “dear friends” of mine will be able to find their own way out of their current predicament, their correspondence did make me think about the people really suffering in The Philippines.
Sure, here in Scotland we’ve experienced some extremely stormy weather.
I’ll never forget a couple of years ago driving to work in a gale when a tree came crashing down on to the road about 20 yards in front of me.
Then there was the time when my neighbours’ shed was blown over and my wife and I tried to hold it down to stop it crashing into the side of our house.
But they were mere breezes compared to the winds which hit The Philippines at the weekend.
Typhoon Haiyan has been described as the most intense and strongest storm ever to make landfall, battering and destroying coastal towns with winds of 170 mph, waves up to 45ft high and rainfall of 16 inches.
The devastation has been truly dreadful. In one town alone, official estimates suggest 10,000 people have died.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced, their homes turned to rubble and their lives destroyed.
More than nine million people in The Philippines have been affected. Many are now struggling to survive without food, shelter or clean drinking water.
The Red Cross has described the scene as “absolute bedlam” and the government has declared a state of calamity.
Aid efforts are being hindered by damage to roads and airports, making it difficult to reach the worst affected areas.
TV pictures have shown harrowing images of people who have lost everything scavenging in the debris in a desperate attempt to find food.
Photographs of dazed and destitute little children, torn from their families by the storm, have appeared in newspapers.
There have been reports of scores of bodies lying by the roadside, and harrowing scenes of a procession of coffins being lowered into a mass, makeshift grave.
While it’s horrifying to watch and look at the images of so many people suffering, it’s hard to imagine the pain and heartache they are going through.
So, for once, my “dear friends” have actually prompted me to take some action.
I decided to respond to their plea and, for once, I’ve sent money to The Philippines.
Of course, I’ve no intention of sending even a penny to my trio of ‘desperate’ emailers.
Instead my money is going to those who need it most, the victims of this latest natural disaster to cause devastation on earth. I donated through the Disasters Emergency Committee’s website.
Perhaps you might want to visit www.dec.org.uk/Philippines too?