Back home after a one-year assignment in Afghanistan with the International Police Peace Operations Program, Sergeant Dale Corra was looking forward to vacationing in the Philippines for the Christmas holidays.
Typhoon Haiyan changed all of those plans. The strongest tropical cyclone recorded at landfall struck with devastating effect last November.
Nearly 6,200 lives were lost in the deadly typhoon that ruined villages, including those in the province of Antique, where many of his wife’s family members live. They survived the massive storm by seeking refuge in a concrete church, but their bamboo homes were destroyed.
Undaunted by the destruction, Corra headed to the ravaged country to assist.
“When I got to Antique, the destruction was obvious and significant,” said Corra, who is using his vacation to help the people of that village and other parts of the country rebuild. “The fact that none of my family members were killed or injured, however, spurred me into action.”
With donations from friends and Service members, Corra paid two carpenters to help repair his families’ residences.
“Some of that money was used to repair the workmen homes, which were also destroyed,” he added.
Etheline Komoseng, of the Philippines Internal Support Network (P-ISN), and Barb Irwin, of 55 Division, coorindated the shipment of the funds raised by Service members. Const. Peter Troup’s 55 Division B platoon and local businessman Tom Catsiliras also raised funds for Corra.
Part of the money was used to rebuild homes for four other families.
“The selection was done based on single-parent families and the elderly,” said Corra. “When they became aware of what we were doing, they were ecstatic because there was no roof over their heads.”
In addition to financial assistance, Corra received moral support from the Children’s Overseas Penpal Service (COPS),
While assigned to 52 Division’s Community Response Unit, Corra played a leading role in establishing the Kids & Cops “Hydro Block” community-based project that engages young people in the College St. and Spadina Ave. neighbourhood.
Through COPS, which is one of the program’s components, students here are encouraged to write to young people in the Philippines.
“This enhances not only their writing skills, but connects kids from two worlds,” said Corra.
“Their letters sent recently were an infallible mode of communication when electricity, internet and cell phone systems were down. The grateful Antiquenos youth are enthusiastically penning responses to the moral-boosting letters they received.”
Tireless ProAction Cops & Kids volunteer Barb Tahir coordinated the letter shipment from Toronto to the Philippines.