Bringing Oamaru to the Philippines

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A small house named Oamaru, for a family which suffered the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines just over three months ago, is the goal of Luna Mogueis-Cameron.

The Philippine-born New Zealander visited friend Cathy Lawrence in Oamaru yesterday and told the Oamaru Mail of relief work she had done on behalf of people in her former home of Hinunanangan, Leyte, a rural area in the central Philippines.

She has managed to have two small houses built and has a goal of having five.

The saga began when Ms Mogueis-Cameron was holidaying in her hometown when the typhoon struck on November 8 last year.

She awoke to find the roof on the house where she was staying had gone. Around her 800 families were left with nowhere to live. The village was destroyed and travelling further, Ms Mogueis-Cameron saw the full horror of what had happened.

“It was like walking in an Armageddon movie,” she said.

She texted TV frontman Mike McRoberts, of TV3, who she had met some time before and he came with a television crew and later his wife.

From this, Ms Mogueis-Cameron featured in two episodes of the show 3rd Degree – one on November 20 ‘Hope in Hell,’ and another on December 18, ‘With Love from New Zealand’.

By then she was working to help in any way she could those who had been made homeless by the typhoon. She stayed in the Philippines until New Year’s Day and during that time paid to have a small home built for one family.

“The house only cost me $4000; it’s only a simple house but luxury compared to a cardboard box,” she said.

“Two volunteers, a builder and an electrician, helped build a second home. Now I’m aiming to build five houses in the same area.”

This is where Oamaru comes in.

Ms Mogueis-Cameron said she would welcome any help and donations people from Waitaki could spare to make her dream of three further homes come true – one of them named for Oamaru.

Mrs Lawrence would co-ordinate the local donations and support.

“We never got aid from big institutions,” Ms Mogueis-Cameron said of the typhoon’s aftermath.

“Remote areas get nothing. My fear is the foreign aid is stopping but I don’t think the world has forgotten the Philippines – the world has given so much. Whether it’s reached the right people, I don’t know.”

Ms Mogueis-Cameron said the final death toll from the typhoon had not been determined.

“There are a lot of undiscovered and unaccounted for bodies. I can’t give the death toll; it’s not fair to give a death toll.”

Mrs Lawrence can be contacted at cathylawrence007@yahoo.com

By Chris Tobin

Photo: Cathy Lawrence and Luna Mogueis-Cameron working to assist those who lost homes in Typhoon Haiyan. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN