A charity, which aims to send relief aid to those suffering after one of the world’s strongest typhoons struck the Philippines, has been formed in St Albans.
A group of residents from the Filipino community living in St Albans and Harpenden have joined together to support victims living in remote Philippine villages including Antique, Tacloban, Capiz and Iloilo.
More than two weeks after typhoon Haiyan wiped out whole villages in Philippines, the country's National Disaster Agency says that 5,209 people are now known to have lost their lives, with many more still missing.
Lolita Smith of Molescroft Road, Harpenden, said the cause is very close to her heart. Her cousin’s two children were swept away and drowned when the devastating storm hit Tacloban.
Mrs Smith described the agonising wait to find out whether her two younger brothers and father, who live in Tacloban, were alive and well: "I called my eldest brother, who lives outside of Tacloban, to go into the village and find my two younger brothers and father.
"It took him two days to get into the village because it is remote. It was a living nightmare waiting to find out if they were ok.
"Half of my father’s roof has blown away and his kitchen has completely disappeared. "
Mrs Smith, who has been a St Albans City Hospital nurse since 1989, said she is keen to help remote villages because she thinks aid is going to the central areas of the Philippines.
She said: "I really want to help my people. They are not getting any help.
"They are without food, water because the wells are polluted and shelter. Schools have been completely wiped out and even if people have money they can’t buy anything because shops have disappeared and you have to travel miles."
The re-build charity is still in its early days but fundraising ideas include a party and banquet, charity stalls at St Albans Christmas market and charity coffee mornings.
It is thought 1,000 people from the Filipino community live in and around St Albans Madeline Davies, of Tennyson Road, Chiswell Green, is another charity member and has family members living in Antique.
The Vesta Lodge care worker said: "I haven’t slept. It has been a very, very emotional time.
"It has been a living nightmare watching people starving and homeless in provinces. "
Former St Albans MP Kerry Pollard, who is helping the group to set up the charity, said it would be a long term plan.
He said: "This is going to be a 10 year plan. This is not a quick relief. We are going to need 10 years to raise money to rebuild houses, schools and part of the airport.
"For decades the Filipino community has cared for the local indigenous population - such as nurses or caring for the elderly.
"This is a chance for us to care for them in return, by helping the Filippino community to raise much-needed funds to rebuild their communities in remote locations in the Philippines."
To get involved or donate, get in touch with Mr Pollard on firstname.lastname@example.org.