Geraldine takes a team back home to help

Philippine-born Warrnambool resident Geraldine Edar-Ralph is on a mission of mercy after watching the unfolding tragedy in the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.

Next week she will head back to her country of birth with a group of young people to help where she can.

She has been in contact with a friend in the Philippines who told her what was needed most — basic toiletries like bars of soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes. 

“The aid agencies are doing a great job of providing medicines, water and rice, but simple things like bars of soap are being overlooked,” she said. 

“These regions have been flattened, washed away and my contact said what was needed most was basic toiletries.” 

The Moyne Shire youth development officer said collection boxes would be at council offices in Port Fairy and Mortlake so residents could leave items, but not money. 

“We are having a meeting at the Archie Graham centre on Sunday night, so people could make donations then if they wish,” she said. 

Ms Edar-Ralph, who grew up in the Philippines but has lived in Australia for the past 30 years, has helped run the Alternative Schoolies program since 2010, taking groups of school-leavers overseas to volunteer.

She said the group hoped to help in the typhoon-hit areas.

“We are waiting to hear back from the Red Cross to get the clearance to travel to the affected areas,” Ms Edar-Ralph said.

“I would love to be able to take our group to the area and drop off this rice and supplies ourselves, but there are some complications with that.

“It is an 18-hour bus trip and there would be some safety issues along the way so there are still some bridges to cross to get the OK to do that.”

Ms Edar-Ralph will lead a group of 17 young people on the trip.

Koroit’s Megan Moroney is one of them.

A veteran of Alternative Schoolies at 22, she has been to the Philippines before and this time is staying for three months.

“I love it, to see the smiles on the faces of the people we help is amazing,” Miss Moroney said.

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