A helping hand in the Philippines

Our colleagues in the Philippines are busy growing a new operation as well as looking after victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

It’s been a busy few months for the team in the Philippines, with some extremely testing times along the way. After a hectic launch of services in Clark International (CRK) in October, our dedicated colleagues had less than a month to settle in before the country was battered by its worst natural disaster in living memory.

Hitting the Philippines’ central islands on November 7, Typhoon Haiyan has claimed the lives of over 5,000 people and left 600,000 without a home.

Fortunately both of our Philippines operations – CRK and the more established Manila International Airport (MNL) – are located far from the affected areas. Yet, as you can imagine, the news of the tragedy was a shock for the new team.

Jeff Versoza, Learning and Development Manager, dnata Philippines, explains. “The first few days after that calamitous event were quite a challenge, especially when initial reports and updates started to be aired on TV and the internet.”

However, the team responded in the best possible way – by joining together to help the victims. “Both MNL and CRK have set up a campaign to collect relief goods. Also, both operations have decided to forego this year’s Christmas party and divert the intended budget to the fund drive for typhoon victims,” reveals Jeff. This effort was boosted by Gary Chapman’s pledge to match the funds raised, effectively doubling the donation.

The entire One dnata family has reacted to the tragedy, with different divisions and units collecting donations of cash, clothes, food and other supplies.

“So far we have delivered hygiene kits and food items to a social welfare centre at MNL, which serves as a temporary shelter for victims airlifted to Manila from the affected areas,” adds Jeff.

The team spirit was bolstered by a special visit from Oliver Mathwich, General Manager of dnata in Erbil, who helped distribute the relief items.

It wasn’t the first time that the fledgling team had to respond to a natural disaster. In fact, before Haiyan, CRK was hit by a strong typhoon that destroyed the roof of the new terminal, leaving the interiors and the equipment drenched. A large part of the terminal was left without electricity for several days.

“Our staff conscientiously reported to work despite being victims themselves of a strong typhoon. They had to work in sub-normal conditions while the terminal had to undergo major repairs before it re-opened,” says Jeff.