West Texas Woman Returns Home From Helping Victims Of Typhoon Haiyan 12/14/13
CBS 7 News
December 14, 2013
ODESSA-It's been over a month since Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, killing thousands.
Since the tragic disaster, help from all over the world has been pouring in, including West Texas.
Last night, Dawn Keller of Odessa returned home after volunteering a month of her time and services for the millions of Filipinos who were affected by the deadly Typhoon Haiyan.
She says it was the most challenging, yet rewarding, moments in the 20 years that she's done disaster response work.
"Three weeks after the event, people were still getting their first contact with any kind of care, or any kind of support," said Keller.
Keller is no stranger when it comes to disaster relief. That's why when news of Typhoon Haiyan broke, she knew thatís where she needed to be.
When Keller arrived, she described the scene as a nightmare. People were carrying children, who were barely alive, looking for help.
"They would walk, just keep walking, until they found someone. So they would walk up still carrying like a 6-year-old, and say, do something she's still breathing," Keller said.
The little girl pictured on the right, was just one of thousands Keller came across, who was forced to sleep in a cold, wet bed, with no food, or roof over her head for days. Keller says by the time help came, this baby girl had developed a serious fever, and died two days later, she was exactly one month old.
Keller says 12-million people had been affected overall, with 6,000 confirmed deaths, and 2-million people still missing.
Despite everything that these people have been through, Keller says they live by the quote, "Today is better than yesterday."
She says they are the most resilient and gracious group of people she's ever come across. This is why she wants to remind everyone else around the world not to forget about those in the Philippines, and continue to send help.
"On Day 21, we were still walking into places for the first time, or dropping in by helicopter that had not had food, and had not had water, and had not seen medical personnel," said Keller.
Keller carries a special hand written note in her wallet, written by one of the groups stranded with no food or shelter, asking for help. She says if this man hadn't walked 28-miles to deliver the note, they probably wouldn't have gotten to them on time.
The Filipinos have a heart of gold, Keller says, and will never lose hope despite their circumstances.
In tears Keller says, "the need is tremendous, so help needs to keep coming."
Keller says dozens of organizations have come to help from all over the world, but many have left, and are thinking about leaving very soon.
If you would like to make a donation you can visit any of the following links or contact Allan Espina, with the Filipino-American Association of the Permian Basin at (432) 528-7496: