Nadira Abubakar

Disaster Relief After Taal Volcano Eruption – The Day We Had To Act Fast

 

The day Taal Volcano erupted, Bayer’s Service Center in Manila was closed for safety reasons. While Bayer colleagues were at home and still shocked about the news and the ash covering the region, they quickly organized a donation drive to gather relief goods from colleagues all over the world.

It was a quiet Sunday afternoon when Taal volcano erupted in Batangas City, Philippines on January 12, 2020. The volcano is not many kilometers away from Metro Manila. Its ash spread out across the city, coating residential areas and business districts with a layer of abrasive dust.

Local news and social media feeds were full of images of families fleeing their homes, cars covered in volcanic ash, and the faces of men, women and children inside cramped evacuation centers. We at Bayer’s Service Center in Manila had colleagues who sought refuge in the evacuation centers or in the homes of relatives and friends.

Werner Baumann

Nadira Abubakar

Communications Lead, Service Center Manila

“We needed to do something! We had to help fast!”

As chat groups with colleagues buzzed with messages, the feeling was shared across our team: “We needed to do something! We had to help fast!”

Our Shared Service Center Manila local crisis committee, led by the Managing Director, had closed our office on Monday to make sure no employee would have to risk their health to go into the office.

With everyone at home and glued to smartphones and TVs for the news, the PRO Social Initiatives (PROSI) volunteer core group in the office began reaching out to each other.

With the immediate support of the Service Center Manila management team, the PROSI volunteer group quickly organized a donation drive to gather relief goods from colleagues.

Donations from colleagues locally and abroad

Donations of goods and cash began to pour in from colleagues locally and abroad. Packing, sorting and delivery teams were organized to handle the donations and the PROSI group closely tracked cash donations. More than 40 people from our office volunteered to pack and sort all the donations in time for our delivery date of January 17, 2020.

The group packed 168 bags of relief goods (composed of food and hygiene kits) with boxes of clothes for men, women and children, along with milk, diapers, blankets, mats and sanitary pads. Once we had sorted everything, it was time to deliver and distribute the goods.

Following the advice of local government units, we first went to the distribution center of the Santa Teresita Municipal Hall, which was in charge of the Sampa-Pacifico Elementary School evacuation center.

We dropped off donated vitamins and medicines to help stock their central medicine dispensary. After a short welcome and briefing from municipal staff, two emergency responders joined the delivery team on the way to the evacuation center.

Upon arriving at the evacuation center, we found out that we had more than enough relief bags to go around for each family. We distributed relief bags to each of the 118 families (339 individuals) sheltered in the evacuation center at that time. The remaining 50 bags went to the families sheltered in the surrounding houses.

Working on the second wave of donations.

By the end of the day, we were tired, but our hearts were overflowing. After seeing so many smiles and hearing “maraming salamat po” (thank you) we decided to keep going. As this piece was being written, PROSI volunteers were already working on the second wave of donations.

To view photos of our relief operation, check out and follow the Bayer PROSI Instagram page: @bayer_prosi.