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Campaign raises thousands for Aston student's typhoon hit hometown

Aston Campus

6 December 2013 

A campaign to raise essential funds for the hometown of an Aston University student which was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan has generated thousands of pounds thanks to staff and students. 

More than £8,000 has been donated for the provision of food, water and medical supplies to the rural town of Barugo, where Lira De Veyra and her family have lived for most of their lives.  

The money from the appeal, which closes on 20 December, is sent directly to the Circulo Barugueno, a group of Filipinos from Barugo coordinating relief efforts from the capital, Manila. 

The town, in the province of Leyte, was hit by the huge storm last month. People were seriously hurt and some lost their lives, buildings were damaged and levelled, electricity was cut off and roads were made inaccessible by fallen trees and debris. 

Lira, who has been studying an MSc in Social Responsibility and Sustainability at Aston since September, said: “The worst affected area was around the city of Tacloban, my birthplace and not far from Barugo. The pictures I saw were terrible. The city’s astrodomes, cathedrals and hospitals were all destroyed. I was very scared, thinking of Barugo’s homes – the buildings are much smaller and more ramshackle than in Tacloban. 

“During the storm, all communications with my town were severed. I didn’t know if my family were okay until eight days after the typhoon passed. The whole week I couldn’t think of anything but them. It was excruciating. Eventually, one of my brothers who lived away from the disaster area managed to get to Barugo and report back to me that our family were alright and gathered in our home.” 

Although Lira’s family survived, food and clean water were scarce and people in the town were starving. At this point, Jill Wilson, Director of the Director of the Hub, Counselling and Disability Support at Aston University, suggested starting a fundraising campaign on behalf of Barugo. Lira agreed and the internal appeal was set-up.

I’m so grateful people have helped not just my own family but everyone. People from Barugo and the surrounding areas are also giving thanks. They are giving hugs and kisses to people at Aston

She said: “I’m overwhelmed with the amount of support the appeal has received. It’s such a huge sum of money, enough to buy food packs for everyone in Barugo. When I heard people were starving in my town, I felt so sad and helpless. I’m so grateful people have helped not just my own family but everyone. People from Barugo and the surrounding areas are also giving thanks. They are giving hugs and kisses to people at Aston.“ 

Despite the stress of her ordeal, Lira continued attending lectures, seminars and group meetings, only taking a brief time out of studying to rest.

Co-Director of Social Responsibility and Sustainability, Carole Parkes, who teaches Lira, said: “I think she is amazing. She was sitting through classes and not telling anyone what was going on to start with. It’s remarkable how little time she asked for off considering everything she has been through the past few weeks. I really think she is an inspiration to everyone.” 

The campaign is reaching its final stages and will close on 16 December.  

If you wish to contribute, online payments can be made here. The default amount is £1 – please overtype with whatever you can afford to give.