- Last Updated on 07:51 AM 11/20/13
- BY Ashley Hodge
With victims of Typhoon Haiyan ever present on her mind, Halifax resident Cheryl Church has created the Cheryl Church Philippine Disaster Relief Fund in hopes of helping to meet the urgent needs of those impacted for food, clean water and emergency shelter.
According to Church, this tropical cyclone has affected 11.8 million people, including 4.7 million children.
Establishing the fund is a way for Church to give back to a culture she has grown to love and highly regard.
Her love for the Filipino people and culture began about 10 years ago when Lexxus International sent Church to the Philippines on a business trip.
During this three-month stay, Church was given the chance to live with several families, the first being a Filipino lady named Heidi, who resided in a rural area.
“In this area, most houses are nipa huts, constructed of bamboo, corrugated metal and roofed with leaves from palm trees,” said Church.
She describes living with the Filipino families as a humbling experience that changed her outlook on life.
“It was a different life for me,” said Church, “but I really enjoyed having this experience in my life. It changed me forever. I began to fit in and feel like a family member with the Filipino people. I fell in love with this wonderful, loving, caring culture of people.”
When she returned home to the United States, she said she brought with her a totally different attitude, one of appreciation for her way of life here in the states and a different outlook about life in general.
Her experiences with the Filipinos created long-lasting friendships, and what she learned from their culture has molded her into an “even more giving person” whose motto is “it’s better to give than receive.”
Once a relationship is developed with the Filipino culture, it is a bond like no other, Church explained. “You are considered family. They will be there for you, and come to your rescue if ever needed,” she added. “An aura of love surrounds this wonderful culture of people.”
For 10 years, Church has lived off-and-on in the Philippines operating the alternative medicine company, Chews 4 Help, that she formed.
“Chews 4 Help provides alternative health care through nutrition. It’s more affordable for them rather than prescription drugs,” she explained.
The day before the typhoon hit, Church met with some of her Filipino friends in California.
“It was devastating when we heard the news,” she said.
Church said she knows several people who are still looking for family members in the wreckage left by the typhoon.
To “give back hope and lend a loving, helping hand to help restore what was lost during this terrible tragedy,” the Cheryl Church Philippine Disaster Relief Fund was created in the form of a website, http://philippines-relief.com.
The site launched Monday.
As stated on the site, the goal is to bring back the smiles and brighten the future of the families that were affected.
Donations to the fund can be made using a credit card or PayPal account.
Currently, Church is unaware of how much money has been donated; however, she plans to donate $10,000.
“I just want to show them that I care,” she said.
Church plans to share the site with her friends through her Facebook page.
“The site will probably be up until the first of the year because I plan to return to the Philippines in January,” said Church.
When Church returns, she plans to take the donations to the Philippine embassy to assist with reconstructing housing.
“This is my way of reaching out, and I hope others will donate as well, so that we can give food, water and shelter to those who do not have any,” Church concluded.
For more information, interested persons can contact Church through her website Philippines-relief.com or by calling 1-800-396-1009.