Typhoon survivor Keith launches appeal as rebuild begins

PUBLISHED: 14:18 29 November 2013 | UPDATED: 14:18 29 November 2013

Keith Wakefield surveys the damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan near his home in the Philippines.

Keith Wakefield surveys the damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan near his home in the Philippines.

Archant

Exmouth man Keith Wakefield is beginning to set about rebuilding his and his neighbours' lives in the Philippines, after he and his family miraculously survived Typhoon Haiyan.

However, he is in desperate need of money to do this, and as a result his friends and family in Exmouth have begun the task of raising funds.

As the Journal reported last week, Keith, who spent most of his life in Exmouth before moving to the Philippines six years ago and opening a language school, survived the typhoon with his Filipino wife Elaine, four members of her family, and their dog, which has recently had puppies, by sheltering in a shipping container.

Although they survived, their home and Keith’s school were devastated, and thousands of their neighbours on the island of Leyte died.

After leaving the island to contact Keith’s family back home, he and Elaine have now returned to their town of Palo, where they are continuing to live in the container.

Taking up the story, Keith, who now has access to email, said: “After getting a few urgently needed supplies of food and some building materials and tools from the neighbouring island of Cebu, I set to on rebuilding and surviving as best as we can.

“We have to be like most of the Filipinos here, after a disaster, they just pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start all over again.

“People are doing their best to make the best of what they can find to make some sort of shelter for their families. We are luckier than most that have nothing. The 20ft shipping container from England that saved our lives is now home for all six of us, plus our dog that had seven puppies four days before the typhoon.”

The family has had some good fortune, as the container not only saved their lives, but also protected part of their house, including their generator, which can provide power for them and their neighbours.

While Keith works to rebuild, he says he is frustrated at the slow pace at which aid is arriving on the island, and believes corruption will prevent much of the aid sent by the West getting to where it is needed.

Because of this, Keith is appealing to Exmouth residents to help provide aid, which he plans to distribute through his school, the English Language Academy (ELA).

He said: “Our intention is to get back on our feet as best we can, as fast as we can, so that we can help as many people as possible.

“Our appeal to all is to help us to help others. Any aid and supplies can be sent direct to us for fully accountable distribution.

“Cash to assist others can be sent or paid into the special account set up in Exmouth or sent direct to the British Council in Manila, who will then pass it on to us.”

One group of Exmouth residents who are already responding to Keith’s appeal is the musical community, which knows Keith well from his days running Shoestrings nightclub.

They will be holding four days of music between December 5 and December 8 at the Old Barrel, First and Last, Bicton Inn, and The Grapevine, to raise money for Keith’s fund.

Direct donations for Keith can be paid into the ELA Typhoon Relief Fund account at the Exmouth branch of Nationwide, sort code 070246, account number 42754563.

For more information on fundraising, email Keith’s brother John at johnhwakefield@talktalk.net

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