The typhoon Haiyan, which ravaged parts of the Philippines, affected Irish Jesuits in three ways. Several Filipinos, women and men, work with Jesuit communities, and for them the helpless days of waiting for news were a time of agony.
Then came the tragic word of family and friends missing, or in hospital, or confirmed dead. Many tears have been shed and prayers offered as the suffering goes on. The Jesuit Province offered help in a number of ways, particularly in the form of money channelled through reliable organisations like the Xavier Network in Germany. Donations from the Mission Office, from individual houses and from the Province Bursar, amount to a 6-figure total: a drop in the ocean when you see the devastation wrought by Haiyan and the reconstruction to be tackled.
The photo above shows relief supplies arriving at a quayside in the affected area.
One other Irishman should be mentioned: Pedro Walpole, Limerick-born but a member of the Philippine Jesuit Province, working in Manilla as an ecologist. Like his colleagues in the Amazon basin, he works for maintaining the quality of water, and the protection of the rain forest – and of indigenous people – from the depredations of lumberers and land-grabbers.
Where the forest is cleared in the hunger for timber, the topsoil can be washed away in floods, and apart from the hazards of mudslides to habitations, the arable land vanishes. Pedro has his eyes on the long term, and works with ECO, a global Jesuit network which links environmental scientists with activists for environmental causes. Have a look through the Ecojesuit website to get a flavour of their work.