Philippines: Water, smiles and serenity

Philippines: Water, smiles and serenity

The LEGER FOUNDATION was one of the first organizations to be operational after the Typhoon Haiyan devastation in the Philippines. Every day, volunteers distribute thousands of liters of drinking water to the victims. Norman MacIsaac, the Executive Director of the LEGER FOUNDATION, shares his experience.

As the water started pumping, so came the smiles. Distributing this water not only brought satisfaction: it filled us with pure elation, satisfying the missionary spirit in all of us. I watched LÉGER FOUNDATION volunteer Francoise Fortin, a veteran Montreal police officer, as she checked her water filtration equipment and filled the water containers of all those families lining up to get the most vital of resources. Children were smiling under the loving look of their parents, happy that their children could finally get uncontaminated water, which had been painfully lacking in the first days after the typhoon devastated their community. Violence and disorder had further delayed the arrival of help, as aid was bumped in favour of troops being sent in to restore order. Meanwhile, families were lacking the most basic necessities: water, food. So as they wait in line for Francoise to fill their container with drinkable water, they smile, and a feeling of serenity fills the air. I am sure that Francoise is thinking that this is the best way to spend her vacation time. On her face is a smile so genuine that I too am overcome with the feeling of fulfillment that comes with knowing that, at that very moment, this is the absolutely best way to spend one’s time and energy.

To our Québec volunteers, Jimmy Vigneux, Francoise Fortin, Nathalie Mélats and Ken Greenaway, the LÉGER FOUNDATION salutes your dedication and commitment. We were proud to bring together Québec volunteers from the LÉGER Foundation with volunteers from the rest of Canada from our Toronto-based partner, Global Medic. While this was the second humanitarian mission for several of our Quebec volunteers, Julie Colgan, a London, Ontario paramedic, was on her eighth humanitarian mission. Global Medic’s Matt Capabianco, who is presently coordinating the team in Leyte, was on his thirtieth humanitarian mission.

Despite my many years of experience in international cooperation, mostly working overseas in Asia, Latin America and Africa, this was a unique experience for me. Amidst the devastation and horror of Typhoon Haiyan, I experienced the best that humans can be. After ten days in the Philippines, I returned home to Montreal yesterday, ten pounds lighter, completely exhausted, but thoroughly fulfilled!

– Norman MacIsaac, Executive Director of the LEGER FOUNDATION


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