Since Typhoon Haiyan devastated much of the Philippines last Friday, my friends, family and I in Canada have been desperately trying to find out if our loved ones in the Philippines are safe.
We are all doing as much as possible to fundraise, but many have not heard any news of our families and have not been able to get through because phone lines have been down, (although we expect them up shortly). I am grateful that I know my mother's family in the province of Cebu, which was also hit badly by the storm, are safe, but most people I know are calling and calling, just waiting for any sign of hope.
To help our community I'm asking major Canadian phone companies Rogers, Bell and Telus to please be compassionate and waive long-distance fees to the Philippines temporarily, so that once the phone lines are back up, we can locate our friends and family without worrying about massive phone bills. AT&T and Verizon are already doing this in the US, and Sprint is considering it as well.
We're hearing that over 10,000 have been killed, that survivors are getting sick and are at high risk of dying still. 9 million have been affected and 600,000 have been forced from their homes. There is only one road open to reach the most affected city which is Tacloban and it takes 6 hours to get there from the docks. The airport is closed as there is no telecommunication signal at all available in the area and the only way to get to them is by sea transportation.
This is an incredibly stressful time for us and most of us feel helpless as we are thousand miles away from home. We worry about our friends and family and we are working on raising funds and send as much support as possible home. However, many in the Filipino Canadian community, especially those who came here to send money home to support their families, do not even have the extra money to worry about huge phone bills either.
I know these companies care since they have already made donations to the Red Cross, are allowing us to text to donate, and Telus is even waiving long distance call fees for calls from land lines until Thursday. However phone lines in the typhoon ravaged areas probably won't be even up until Thursday, so I hope Rogers, Bell and Telus will support our communities by waiving fees for long-distance calls from both landlines and cell phones and helping the Filipino Canadian community find our loved ones and have a little peace of mind.
Please help me make this request by signing my petition.
Photo by: AP/Bullit Marquez