Last November, Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines. The storm took over 6,000 lives and left millions of people without food, shelter and clean water. Cubs from Lincolnshire are reaching out and making contact with school children affected by the disaster.
'I’m so glad that I can have a great friend from England. And I’m glad too that even though you are so far away from us you all still care.' Those are the words of Barbie, 11, who lives in Tacloban – a city devastated by the typhoon. Barbie’s friend is Ross, 9, a Cub at 27th Lincoln Thorpe-on-the-Hill.
Ross and Barbie have never met, and with no internet at San José Central School, keeping in touch by email isn’t an option. Instead, the Cubs and the school children send each other carefully handwritten and illustrated letters, telling each other about their lives, families and hobbies.
The Cubs' letters are delivered to the school by Steve, an international relief manager at the charity Tearfund. In a moving film of the children reading aloud from their letters to the Cubs, Barbie speaks about when the typhoon hit. 'My mother said to us: "Just pray. Because your prayer is the only key for our lives," and I felt like I have a chance. But when all of you gave us each letters, we felt very happy because all of you gave us a chance. That is not the end of us.'
Ellie, an Occasional Helper at 27th Lincoln Thorpe-on-the-Hill and Ross’s mum, explains why she helped set up the project: 'I wanted to give the Cubs a feeling of what it’s like to help someone a long way away. Steve said to me that a simple gesture, such as writing a letter, can have a massive impact.'
Steve adds: 'The fact that the children in Tacloban realised children somewhere else were thinking about them and cared about them was really powerful.'
The Group is planning a long-term fundraising effort to support their friends in Tacloban. They will raise money to send items such as pens, pencils and notepads to the children, and support the school with other projects. By reaching out and showing friendship, as well as offering practical help, the Cubs are making a difference to children who are rebuilding their lives.
Watch the video below to find out more about the project.