As the Philippines feels the devastating effects of Typhoon Haiyan, Emory students and administrators are working to aid those in need.

The typhoon, one of the strongest ever recorded for the region, has caused a death toll that has rapidly risen to higher than 4,000. Haiyan has destroyed homes and left hundreds of thousands displaced. It has left many people in other countries crossing their fingers and hoping for the best for their loved ones who might have been affected.

“We have a small number of Filipino International students here, but certainly it reaches and impacts many more students than just those who grew up in the Philippines,” Natalie Cruz, coordinator of the Office of International Student Life, wrote in an email to the Wheel.

Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Ajay Nair has written a letter to Filipino students at Emory, stating, “Please know that you do not have to face these challenges alone. Being a part of a caring community means that we engage in uplifting those facing challenging circumstances such as these.”

Nair, in the letter, points to a number of resources that allow Emory to aid those impacted by crises, including Counseling and Psychological Services and Student Intervention Services.

Some students, though, are working with each other and the University to provide relief to those impacted by the catastrophe.

Cruz, whose office is new as of this fall, wrote that she is working with the Filipino Student Association (FSA) on relief efforts. FSA is planning a charity dinner for Saturday, Nov. 23, which will include a screening of next week’s Manny Pacquiao fight. Pacquiao is a professional Filipino boxer, whom FSA Co-President and College junior Tad Manalo described as a “national hero.”

“When he fights, traffic stops, crime goes down to zero, everyone is glued to the TV to watch … It’s a really powerful experience,” Manalo said.

FSA also had a table at the Dobbs University Center (DUC) Coca-Cola Commons yesterday afternoon, where they accepted donations that will go toward Philippines relief.

In addition, third-year Candler School of Theology student John Yeager has started fundraising for relief, with donations going through the United Methodist Committee on Relief. Initially, he planned for his campaign to last only a week and for just Candler students to participate. But now, he is trying to extend it through next week and he has received donations from individuals across the University.

He has placed a donation box on the second floor of the Candler School, which has thus far received $300. Money donated online has not yet been counted, he said.

“There are a lot of problems,” Yeager said. “It’s incredibly easy to see it on the news and have an immediate reaction to it and then keep drinking your Starbucks.”

For many students and alumni, the pain of the tragedy in the Philippines is all too real. Roshani Chokshi (’13C), former managing editor of the Wheel, said some of her relatives – her grandmother’s brother, his wife and his son – have either been reported dead or have not yet had their bodies recovered.

“The real scary thing is not knowing anything at all,” Chokshi said. “The phone lines are really only working at 50 to 60 percent capacity. Everyone is trying to find someone they love.”

Editor-in-Chief Arianna Skibell, News Co-Editor Karishma Mehrotra and Copy Editor Mary Claire Kelly contributed reporting.

– By Jordan Friedman

Photo courtesy of Flickr, Mansunides

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The Emory Wheel was founded in 1919 and is currently the only independent, student-run newspaper of Emory University. The Wheel publishes weekly on Wednesdays during the academic year, except during University holidays and scheduled publication intermissions.

The Wheel is financially and editorially independent from the University. All of its content is generated by the Wheel’s more than 100 student staff members and contributing writers, and its printing costs are covered by profits from self-generated advertising sales.