HDI in the Philippines

HDI in the Philippines

The Humanitarian Disaster Institute continues to help equip churches and leaders to build community disaster resilience.

HDI partnered with the World Evangelical Alliance, and Micah Global to lead the 2013 Manila Consultation.

One of the highest disaster risk areas in the world, the Philippines averages 26 typhoons per year. Less than two months before the strongest and deadliest Philippine typhoon on record made landfall in 2013, Wheaton’s Humanitarian Disaster Institute (HDI) led a Solidarity in Disaster Management Conference in the Philippines, attended by about 160 church leaders from 16 different countries throughout Southeast Asia. The conference was held in partnership with the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), Micah Network, Integral Alliance, and World Evangelical Alliance.

Peter Howard, director of emergency response with Food for the Hungry, called the conference “a gift of timely grace to the church’s response to the Super Typhoon.”

In addition to building local church networks and providing disaster management training, the conference forged new connections among ministries. “Our work helping more than 4,000 children recover from trauma would not have happened without the HDI-organized consultation a month before the disaster,” said Jonathan Wilson, founder and director of OpSAFE International.

Dr. Lee Baas, President of Walking In Their Shoes (WITS) International, noted that HDI speakers challenged conference participants to recognize the need for preparation for mobilization prior to a disaster, as well as the careful tracking of relief work during and after disasters, in order to better prepare for future crises.

Dr. Baas met with relief workers to strategize just three days after the typhoon hit, and said, “Pastors and church leaders had already begun planning and they knew whom to contact. It was so refreshing for me to see the difference between the way pastors and other leaders could work with Christian disaster professionals. The typical suspicion of each other had been erased by the consultation.”

The Solidarity in Disaster Management Consultation drew over 160 participants from 16 countries.

Equipping Local Churches

The conference marked the beginning of a larger HDI project, funded by the Maclellan Foundation, aimed at equipping local churches for disaster-related ministries and to test tools for improving coordination during a disaster. This was especially important in the Philippines, since faith-based organizations are central to the government’s response plan, and yet these organizations often lack the training, support, and networking necessary to be effective.

When the Super Typhoon hit, HDI and others, “changed the project approach and began focusing on supporting the disaster-relief effort, while simultaneously building in strategies that would continue after the relief effort,” says Dr. David Boan, HDI co-director. “This meant focusing on three areas: data collection and sharing about resources and needs, emotional and spiritual care of survivors, and care of relief workers.”

Conducting Research and Equipping Leaders

Hazel Rosette Psy.D. ’17 went to the Philippines twice with HDI to conduct qualitative research aimed at understanding the developmental process of Filipino pastors and NGO leaders doing disaster work and working with local communities and vulnerable populations. With a goal of better equipping leaders in the future, Hazel’s aim was to understand the challenges these leaders encountered and the lessons they learned. She said, “It was a privilege to use my graduate education, research, and training to collaborate with pastors and NGO leaders to promote a better overall quality of life for the Filipino people through prevention, mitigation prior to, and rehabilitation during natural disasters.” 

Our Continuing Projects

A matching grant from the Maclellan Foundation has enabled HDI to continue assisting churches affected by Haiyan. HDI returned to the Philippines in February 2014 to provide ongoing training and to pilot new technology tools to increase coordination efforts between local churches and Christian NGOs responding to the disaster. The Philippine Council of Evangelical Church (PCEC) and the Asia Graduate Schools of Theology have partnered with HDI to offer:

  • Volunteer care. In partnership with PCEC and the Asia Graduate School, HDI has offered training programs to equip volunteers. 
  • Data mining. Collaborating with the Wheaton College Math and Computer Science Departments, HDI is helping PCEC track distribution of materials and services to ensure that vulnerable neighborhoods are being served. 
  • Networking. HDI assisted PCEC in gathering those who serve the poorest of the poor, for teaching as well as for networking with local and international NGOs to strengthen disaster response in the future.
  • Training for church leaders. HDI developed and piloted a program to equip churches and other community groups to do community participatory projects. The plan is to incorporate this training into curriculum at Philippine seminaries, and the program is also being assessed by the Asia Theological Association to roll out to its 212 members in 27 countries across Asia.

Less than two months before one of the strongest and deadliest Philippine typhoons on record made landfall in 2013, HDI led a Solidarity in Disaster Management Consultation that helped equip pastors and NGOs to respond to the disaster.