Following the aftermath of the Taal Volcano eruption, thousands of motorcycle riders and their respective groups have expressed their interest in extending a helping hand for the victims and their families.
While done with the best intentions, sometimes going into the evacuation centers without any coordination (especially with a whole group), to drop off supplies may do more harm than good. You may get in the way of those who need to deliver goods, overwhelm coordinators, or even obstuct relief efforts.
In some cases, donations may be distributed inefficiently that may lead to wastage. Or, donations may have been dropped off to an area where they already have enough, but those who are truly in need may be left out.
To make things more efficient and orderly, the government and certain non-government organizations in charge of the relief operations suggest some things to follow if you or your motorcycle group want to help:
Know where the evacuation centers are
If your group wants to “adopt” an evacuation center, please make sure to know first where to find them. Generally, public gymnasiums and schools are designated evacuation areas in the event of a calamity such as the Taal volcano eruption. Before you do anything, it is best to send out scouts first to find out which one is in critical need of supplies so that you or your motorcycle group can bring in your donations to where they are needed.
Find out what things they need
Sometimes evacuation areas receive an overwhelming number of donations of one kind but not enough of another. They may have lots of water and food but lack some of the basic things that they may need day to day. Some of these things are underwear, detergent, water for bathing, and sleeping bags. Water, food, and masks may be the first things to come to mind, but often, it is the other goods that are in short supply. So please try to find out first what is the immediate need of an evacuation center by calling the local government unit or by sending scouts.
Drop off donations at designated drop off points
Like what was mentioned above, what's critical at this time is efficiency and accuracy in distributing aid. In other words, skip the photo ops and just let the professionals handle and repack your donations. They are more aware of the situation and can send them to areas where they are needed most.
Be a volunteer
Various organizations have called for volunteers to help with the repacking and distribution of donations. Lending your time instead of whining on social media can really make a world of difference. Coordinate with these centers and find out what they need and where.
If you or your group wishes to help, it is best just to drop your donations at the designated drop off points. The thought of riding out against the elements may seem exciting. Yet, if you have very little briefing on the disaster area and how to safely navigate the roads during this unique situation, you may get into an accident and become more of a liability (another person to rescue) than an asset.
Some of the best help you can offer is ensuring the right kind of help gets to where it is needed most. Helping is good but if your goal is just for photo ops, perhaps you should reevaluate your goals.