People rally to help survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines

Richard Dixon, president of the Rotary Club of Stevenage, Prue Dixon and Alex Lang, members of the R

Richard Dixon, president of the Rotary Club of Stevenage, Prue Dixon and Alex Lang, members of the Rotary Club of Stevenage, and Rob Bamforth and David Stewart, members of the Rotary Club of Stevenage Grange. The rotary clubs held a collection in Stevenage and raised £636.22 for the typhoon victims. - Credit: Archant

In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, which devasted Tacloban in the Philippines and claimed more than 5,000 lives, people in Comet country have been raising funds to help the survivors.

Thousands are still missing since the typhoon hit on November 8 and, with government agencies and international aid organisations assessing the full impact of the damage, it is estimated that reconstruction costs could total as much as £3.7 billion.

Tom Edison Pena, who is a Filipino wellness consultant for Stevenage Leisure Ltd, has family and friends who have been affected by the natural disaster.

He said: “I do have relatives who lost their house and family friends have lost everything, but they are all well. They are still waiting for the green light to be able to rebuild homes and remove debris.”

Mr Pena and Cris Miole, who both have 20 years’ experience in teaching martial arts and self defence, will be holding classes at Stevenage Arts and Leisure Centre today (Saturday) to raise funds for the typhoon victims. The session at 1pm is for 10 to 13-year-olds, the class at 2.15pm is for 14 to 17-year-olds, and the final session starts at 3.30pm for people aged 18 and above. Each session lasts an hour and parents are welcome to join their children in the class. A minimum donation of £5 per session is requested and the entire donation will be sent to the relief fund.

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Also today, The Filipino Folk Dancers, who are based in Stevenage, have organised a cultural show at the St Vincent de Paul Catholic Primary School.

They will be joined by members of Stevenage’s Irish and Indian community, who will also be performing to raise money for the Red Cross and Catholic Agency For Overseas Development, as they work to help the victims of the typhoon. The show will start at 4pm and will finish at about 6.30pm.

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Event organiser Myla Arceno said: “My husband’s parents have been affected, but they are ok. One part of their kitchen – a mango tree fell down on it. When they told me about it I said ‘yes, we are used to the typhoons’, then I realised how bad it was. We grew up with typhoons. We had a few a year, but we never saw the catastrophic damage caused by this one.”

Whitwell resident Gaz Khan cooked up breakfast at the village hall last weekend to raise money for people in the Philippines, where her husband comes from, and served full English, continental and Filipino breakfasts. A total of £1,000 was raised. The Filipino community in Stevenage have helped to collect about 18 tons of food, clothes and tents, which have been sent to the Red Cross for the humanitarian effort.

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