TransformRelief.org was created in November 2013 in direct response to the need for immediate relief efforts in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). The Visayas region of the Philippines was facing a compounding tragedy with each day – no clean water, medicine, food, or ability to communicate with the outside world. Relying upon big relief organizations or government aid was not solving anything. Everyone had to take matters into their own hands, and for us, our involvement started 48 hours after the storm when a relative from the region finally made contact to let us know they had survived. Rommel Llevado and others from a village called Guinob-an on the Island of Samar (which had been in the direct path of the storm) and travelled north for many hours on salvaged motorcycles across broken roads, fallen trees to reach power and cell phone reception.
Their community needed food and medicine urgently, so we organized a mission to send someone to meet them with rice, insulin, heart medication and a solar-powered cellphone charger. That was the first phase of our first project.
We calculated that for $6k we could purchase and deliver enough rice to feed the entire town (approx. 1000 people) for 10 days. We quickly launched a fundraiser that night using Rally.org and started to spread the word. Within 24 hours we had raised nearly half of our target amount and were able to send the first truckload on the road.
With that set in motion, we felt strongly that our model for community-specific micro-relief could be replicated for other communities. We reached out to friends who we knew had families in neighboring communities in the Philippines that were in the same predicament and within two days we were launching two more projects.
What we did was simple and acts as a powerful model for other first-time participants in the disaster relief process, especially family, friends and others who, for whatever reason, feel a deep kinship with those in the disaster zone.
We created Transform Relief as tool to help coordinate the efforts of the global community to assist the region. By building strong, strategic partnerships, designing and administering relief and development projects, securing funds and other resources, and sharing information, experiences and best practices with each other, the Transform Relief community has grown and evolved into a committed group of volunteers, both on the ground and around the world, who continue to dream about, and act in support of, the future of the region.
We recognize the potential for Transform Relief to play an instrumental role in the long-term, recovery and development process, as well as the opportunity to create system that can be deployed in the future to support other regions facing other crises.
We thank the people of the Philippines for inspiring us to launch this operation and for reminding us of the resilience of the human spirit through their actions in the wake of tragedy.