Looking to help those affected by Typhoon Haiyan? NY1 travel reporter Valarie D'Elia has information about volunteer opportunities in the Philippines and beyond. She filed the following report.
Images of Typhoon Haiyan devastating parts of the Philippines can easily tug at your heartstrings, but for some, it's also a call to action.
"The inquiries and the requests, how can I help, how can I go abroad, has really skyrocketed lately," says Rachel McMillan, a program adviser with Projects Abroad.
Projects Abroad, with an office in New York City, operates trips for volunteers who want to pitch in on relief and care efforts in 28 developing countries around the world.
It charges a fee, starting at $2,500 per person for a minimum of two weeks, not including airfare.
"It's going to cover your accommodations with the host family that still has a home that's running and are able to support you, three meals a day, medical and travel insurance. You'll have airport pickup, visa support if you require it, staff support 24-hour local support from a full-time staff," McMillan says. "Part of that program is also going to on-the-ground costs and the basic running of the program."
Before signing up with volunteer agency like Projects Abroad, you should ask some questions first. Request to speak with previous volunteers and scour online reviews. Find out what the requirements are for the particular placement. Do you need specific skills, and how many hours will you be working each day?
Ask yourself if you are psychologically prepared to function in the face of disaster. If not, consider simply making a donation.
Finally, ask how much of your fee goes to the company's operational costs and their share of profits, and how much benefits the community.
Know the difference between voluntourism and volunteering. Voluntourism typically includes some touristic activities as well as service work. In either case, these trips can be far from a vacation.
HELPING THE TYPHOON RELIEF EFFORT
The Red Cross has set up a call center for worried Filipino New Yorkers who are desperate for any news about missing family members. To find out more, call 1-877-RedCross.
For more information on how to help, go to redcross.org or nyc.gov/fund.
Time Warner Cable customers who have Home Phone or Business services and wish to call a landline or mobile number in the Philippines will be able to do so for free through November 30, and anyone charged on or after November 8 will get a credit. No changes to your account need to be made to receive this service.
Time Warner Cable has also made The Filipino Channel (Channel 539) available at no additional cost to digital TV subscribers through November 15.