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Jan 31

MavenWire Solution Architect Spends Holidays Helping Philippines Typhoon Victims

Kyle with the children.

Kyle Perloff brought a single backpack, three changes of clothes, personal hygiene items, a few books and four boxes of granola bars for a three-week stint volunteering in the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.

Nothing he packed could have prepared him for the devastation in Ormoc City in Leyte Province – an

area officially declared a catastrophic disaster after a two-story-high storm surge swept across the island carrying hundreds – if not thousands – of people out to sea.

“It’s basically like somebody took the top half of the island and lifted it up and dropped it on its head,” Kyle said. “It was complete devastation. Hospitals were missing floors. Schools and chapels were collapsed. Trees were fallen on businesses and in the rice paddy fields.”

Kyle had never been to a third-world country or a disaster area. The most adventurous international travel before the Philippines was a business trip to Europe as a solution architect with MavenWire, which partially sponsored his trip to the Philippines by contributing toward the cost of his $3,500 airline ticket and covering his traveler’s insurance.

The trip to the Philippines was born from a desire to volunteer, which the 29-year-old Philadelphia resident previously experienced only on a local level. He has helped collect toiletries for patients and families staying in the American Cancer Society’s AstraZeneca Hope Lodge in Cheltenham. He also has run races in Philadelphia to benefit the American Cancer Society and Wounded Warrior Foundation.

Why the Philippines? That’s the question Kyle has been asked the most since signing up with All Hands Volunteers, a nonprofit organization started in the United States with the goal of putting volunteers in disaster areas with as little bureaucracy as possible.

“It’s still kind of hard to explain because it’s not necessarily the Philippines,” Kyle said. “It was more just my desire to give back, and I had the time and the resources to do it. This was kind of a chance to travel and for adventure and to also help some people who really needed it.”

Kyle said signing up with All Hands Volunteers was easy compared to the extensive application processes of larger nonprofit organizations like the American Red Cross. All Hands had Kyle fill out a brief form and answer about questions before sending him instructions on how to reach their volunteer camp in Ormoc City.

He left Dec. 23 and returned Jan. 1.

For someone who has never responded to a major natural disaster, Kyle said there is no way to anticipate those initial sights and smells.

“I would imagine if a bomb went off somewhere, that’s what it would be like,” Kyle said. “I was like, ‘What did I just do?’ It was definitely daunting at first. But once I got to the camp it was fine, because there were so many volunteers going through it who had the same stories and showed us the ropes.”

System Architect performing physical labor.

Anywhere from 40-70 volunteers a day lived in the All Hands Volunteers dormitory, sustained by a breakfast of white bread streaked with peanut butter and cialis 5mg prix forum two bowls of white rice and a small piece of chicken for dinner. Each day, teams of 6-10 volunteers set out to work a full day, clearing fallen trees and separating construction debris to be salvaged to rebuild temporary shelters.

“The people who live there also made it easy because every time we went out to work, they waved and smiled and said hello and thank you,” Kyle said. “Even though we couldn’t do everything, we did a lot. I’m proud of what we did and what everyone is still doing.”

In a tropical, rainy climate with temperatures in the 80s, Kyle worked each day in ankle-deep water and mud polluted with raw sewage and teeming with mosquitoes spreading the painful and potentially deadly Dengue fever. About 10 percent of the volunteers contracted the virus, he said.

“If you get bitten you end up with a horrific fever and practically paralyzed for two weeks,” Kyle said. “That was really scary, and I was pretty nervous and on edge about it – especially when you’re digging in mud all day. We were definitely out there in the elements.”

But at least he slept in a building with a roof and ate two meals a day, which is more than most of the Filipino people have been able to acquire since the Nov. 8 typhoon. The dormitory, though, had no electricity or running water. Kyle and all of the volunteers showered and flushed toilets with buckets of water, which went down drains with no known destination.

“We’re so used to needing so many things or thinking we need so many things,” Kyle said. “In reality, you can manage just fine if you bring a good book and a couple pairs of clothes – preferably one that’s dry and one that’s soon-to-be dry. But I was really happy I packed those granola bars.”

As hard as the living conditions were, it was just as hard for Kyle to leave.

“Whether you want to or not, you become close with the other volunteers,” Kyle said. “It was nothing short of life-changing. The value you put on material things kind of changes.”

Still, Kyle said it was good to be home. His first order of business back levitra buy online in Philadelphia: Watch Eagles football, eat chicken wings and drink a few refreshing beverages of choice.


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