Today on FundMyTravel, we jump into part two of a story featuring a successful FundMyTravel campaigner and her efforts to help provide relief to those affected by Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in the Philippines. Be sure to check out part one of Victoria’s post before reading further!
I was so emotionally invested in this project, I didn’t know what else I could do with my time until the campaign goal was reached, and even then, I felt rather helpless unless I was using the campaign to spread awareness about situations taking place due to Yolanda.
It was painful and distressing to write to friends and family who did not seem to care as much as I did about the destruction. Or when I reached out to those who did care because they understood, but didn’t feel connected enough to contribute or see how even a simple share would make a difference. Quite a few things could have brought me to tears at such an emotionally charged time, but the thing that set me over edge was the concern and utter confusion I felt, when it seemed that people just didn’t care.
I found myself experiencing a range of emotions throughout the campaign: fear, anger, frustration, and hurt. But then, finally there was relief. The greatest sense of relief came with the news that all of my friends in the Philippines had actually survived Yolanda and been accounted for.
No amount of money in the world could have been as valuable as this piece of information, but they still needed support if they were going to continue to survive in such conditions. The best way for us to provide for their needs, as well as others in the community, was by raising funds for relief. It was important for us to raise the funds because we were directly connected with a trustworthy, grassroots, non-profit organization, The GoAbroad Foundation. We knew that the money we raised for relief would go directly into supporting those communities on the ground in Tacloban, which was not always the reality, when donating through one of the larger relief organizations.
Over time, I learned that my other friends and family in the U.S. were not all aware of this, in addition to many other details I might have communicated in an email, on the campaign, or in other messages. The beauty behind online tools is that extensive amounts of information are available to a lot of people at once. However, this also provides a challenge because there is so much information, constantly being shared, and it’s easy for your message to become part of the “background noise.”
The Importance of Communication
It was when I began further communications, in person and over the phone, that I gained a sense of reassurance that more people cared about the campaign and the issue than I initially thought. I just needed to convey the message in more personal ways. One effort I took was an offline fundraising project, to bolster awareness and pick up some smaller donations for the overall Yolanda Relief campaign goal.
Where I grew up, the night before Thanksgiving is a typical time to see old friends from school days and celebrate the opportunity to get together again. This also means that the night often involves alcohol and some partying, so I thought I could offer safe rides home to anyone who needed one, and I’d accept “Tips for Tacloban” in the process. Any amount was welcome, but I was also happy to just offer the rides for free/in exchange for the chance to explain what had happened with Typhoon Yolanda and why I was trying to raise awareness and relief funds.
Much to my pleasant surprise, a lot of people were interested and several even made donations, just after hearing about the whole situation and our campaign efforts. This particular approach to fundraising would not have been enough to reach our goal on its own, but it showed me just how important offline efforts were, to complement the online project.
Now, one full year later, there is a group of friends and family who I can maintain communications and reiterate my gratitude to for supporting my friends and family in the Philippines. Even better, is the fact that these two groups of people, even though they have never met, do have a significant connection now, and it’s one that reflects the most positive side of the human spirit, showing unconditional love and care for one another.
What I am most looking forward to on this anniversary of Yolanda is updating that group of friends and family about how improved the state of Tacloban is, and about how impressive the resilience and strength of those survivors are.
I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to use FundMyTravel for our Yolanda Relief campaign, because the site is run by some of the most moving and motivating people I have ever met, and those are actually people of Tacloban City, Philippines. They are survivors of Yolanda themselves and they are some of the most influential people in my life.
So not only did the funds raised go to supporting those in the community of Tacloban, but the funds processed through FundMyTravel continue to support an organization that represents strength, dedication, and the development of cross-cultural relationships and respect.
About the Author:
Victoria Mita graduated from Loyola University in Maryland. She spent her first academic experience abroad in Lyon, France, for which she fundraised by raking leaves, with classmates. She has valued the mission of international education ever since this first exchange. Victoria considers herself most fortunate to spend two life-affirming years working with the teams at GoAbroad.com and FundMyTravel.com. Victoria studied abroad at Monash University in Australia, worked with the Australian Trade Commission’s Education team in the U.S. and has now come full circle, working as an International Programs Representative for CISaustralia, in Melbourne, Australia. Connect with her on Twitter at FlamingoPoppins.