Filipino sailors in Halifax seek out families after typhoon

A Halifax mission is looking for donations to fund its WiFi and buy phone cards so Filipino seafarers can contact family back home in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.

Mission to Seafarers looking for money to help men connect with family in wake of Typhoon Haiyan

A mission in Halifax is looking for donations to fund its Wi-Fi and buy phone cards so Filipino seafarers can contact family back home in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.

The typhoon hit the Philippines nearly two weeks ago and one of the biggest challenges for the sailors is getting information from home. The Mission to Seafarers in Halifax says not a day goes by that they aren't helping someone get on the computer or make a call.

Sailor Henden Villareal supports his parents and six siblings who live in an area of the Philippines that took a direct hit from the typhoon.

He's been on the container ship Kobe Express for four months. He’s been able to speak with one brother, who told him their home is destroyed.

"I feel sad," he said. "But the important thing is my parents and all my family are still OK."

It’s estimated that one in three sailors is from the Philippines. But helping them reach family costs money and that's why Mission to Seafarers says it needs money.

"Free Wi-Fi, we’re giving them phone cards, we’re taking phones on board, we’re giving SIMs, top ups," said organizer Maggie Whittingham-Lamont.

Communication isn’t easy on board. At the mission, sailor Ronald Buenaventura was able to connect with family.

"I’m lucky she is online," he said of a family member. "She didn't know that I am here."


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