WEST MICHIGAN, In the days following Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines the people of West Michigan have answered the call for help. It’s a position West Michigan has been in before.
Immediately following the days after the tsunami in Japan and the earthquakes in Haiti, volunteers boarded planes heading to the affected areas.
One of the those people is a pastor of Daybreak Church in Hudsonville. Wes Dupin said it was ‘a calling’ that gave him courage to board a plane to Haiti.
“We were there just a few days after that earthquake hit and bodies were still lying everywhere,” he said.
He also visited Sri Lanka after the tsunami, “I can still remember being part of truck loads of water, nothing but water,” said Dupin. “And people running from everywhere just to get their hands on a bottle of water.”
Looking at the typhoon riddled area of the Philippines, he knows the survivors need the essentials to live. He said they are also searching for hope.
“That is the one word that they are looking for. And there is a lot that we can do and there is a lot that we cannot do but we can bring them hope,” said the pastor.
A mission trip is undoubtedly a noble cause, but Dupin would caution anyone who is considering taking a flight to the Philippines without a plan in place.
“Make sure you go with a reputable organization,” said Dupin. “Don’t just get on an airplane and fly to Manilla and think you are going to end up in this community.”
He said a person who comes to help must first think of themselves, “People get into these countries and they never think about where they are going to get their own food and water and where are they going to sleep at night.”
The pastor said without the help of communities like West Michigan, all hope for survival and recovery is gone.
“This is a great time to practice the golden rule, to love your neighbor as yourself,” said Dupin. “And my neighbor lives in those Philippines.”
A majority of the people in West Michigan will likely not travel to the Philippines but they may still feel compelled to help in some way. If that is the case the pastor recommends giving to organizations like the American Red Cross or Salvation Army. He said that way you are less likely to fall victim to a scam.