The Washington Times-Herald

November 27, 2013

Helping her homeland

BY Lindsay Owens Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald

---- — Brian and Lourdes Peek had always talked about a mission trip so when Lourdes’ homeland of the Philippines was hit with Super Typhoon Haiyan nearly two weeks ago, the Washington couple jumped at the chance to go help with relief efforts.

Their chance to help others is coming sooner than either Brian, the Lead Addiction Recovery Specialist at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, and Lourdes, a trauma nurse at Daviess Community Hospital ever thought.

“We just received a phone call earlier and we will be leaving on Dec. 1 and returning on the 18th,” said Brian.

Originally, the Peeks were told the soonest they could possibly go to help those in Philippines was January and both have said while they are ecstatic about the upcoming trip, trying to schedule things with their jobs has made things a bit more complicated.

“They do scheduling about six weeks ahead of time so it was hard to know whether to have them schedule me or not but this was something we both felt that we needed to go do regardless,” said Lourdes.

Brian, a veteran of the Gulf War who was stationed in the Philippines for three years, agreed with Lourdes. “We have family there and even though her family isn’t where we’ll be going we still wanted to help.”

“Lourdes speaks the language, is a nurse and I know the area,” said Brian. “I think maybe that helped move us up on the list to go.”

With limited accommodations, the Peeks, who attend Harvest Community Fellowship, said that they will be two of 17 individuals with Crisis Response International who will go to help with clean up efforts and pray with those affected by the super typhoon. The Peeks are not not sure what kind of conditions they will find when they arrive in Ormoc next week. How far outside the city, which was one of the most heavily devastated by the typhoon, they will be located and what they will be doing the Peeks are unsure. “We won’t know until we get there,” said Brian.

“Because of all the destruction, they send one group for a couple of weeks and then another group will come in behind them,” said Brian who has taken a three day training through Crisis Response International to help at a disaster such as this. “With the training we are prepared to help with disaster relief at the local, state and federal levels without interfering with what agencies are trying to do. It will take years for them to recover from this.”

Lourdes said that while typhoons are quite common in the Philippines, Haiyan has left much more devastation than most other typhoons. “Usually it just takes a couple of weeks for them to recover from a typhoon. This will take much longer,” Lourdes said. “It’s hard to imagine what it’s like to live there and to live like they are now until you go see it or you talk to someone who lives there.”

Around 1972, when Lourdes was a small child, she said she remembers a bad typhoon hitting her city. “I remember my dad got in a fight for a piece of bread for us to eat. It was terrible. There was no food and he was trying to feed us. Here in America we get upset because we don’t get our meal on time or it isn’t warm or we have to wait in line at Walmart. And on the other side of the world, these people have nothing but their families and are happy.”

While supplies are needed to help the victims of Hiayan, the Peeks said items such as antibiotics and other medicine are in demand. “With the stagnant water and mosquitoes, there’s always a chance for people to catch illness or be injured and need attention,” said Brian.

The Peeks plan to keep a journal of their time in the Philippines and said the outcry of support from local churches has been astounding.The trip will cost the couple over $2,000 each to go but both said the cost was well worth it. “We’ve had such great support for what we are doing from area churches and Chris Wiles (pulpit minister at the Washington Church of Christ and a chaplain at Daviess Community Hospital) has been such a big help to us in gaining support from other churches,” said Lourdes. “This will be life changing.”

Items to be donated are tax deductible and can be sent through the Crisis Response International website,www.criout.com.

Crisis Response International has aided with relief efforts after 9/11, Katrina and currently has volunteers in Washington, Ill. Crisis Response International and the HOPE Crisis Reponse Unit based in Evansville will be offering training in Evansville Jan. 16, 17, 18.

The training will provide unique elements such as Cold Weather Search and Rescue, Cities of Refuge and Response, Earthquake Preparedness and Rescue as well as other topics. For more information visit www.criout.com.