A MORAY man’s compassion for victims of the Philippines typhoon disaster spurred him on to abandon his holiday and join the aid effort in the stricken island nation.
Cameron Mackintosh (44) flew to the Philippines, for what was intended to be a relaxing break, on November 7 – just a day before devastating storms struck, killing thousands of people.
When he realised that many of the places he had planned to visit were now no-go zones, Mr Mackintosh determined to do whatever he could to help.
The Moray Council employee, who lives in Elchies, near Archiestown, had already booked an internal flight to Cebu City, close to the area worst affected by the devastation. After contacting an emergency centre set up to help families torn apart by the tragedy, he went ahead his plans to visit Cebu – which was largely unaffected by the typhoon.
“It just didn’t feel right to be on holiday, or to go and lie on a beach when this was happening in the same country,” he told ‘The Northern Scot’.
On arriving in Cebu, Mr Mackintosh – a regular charity fundraiser in Moray – was immediately thrust into the thick of the aid effort, preparing bags of rice to be dispatched to communities in desperate need of food.
He took on heavy manual shifts in stifling humidity, transporting 50kg bags of rice off trucks into the centre to be divided up into smaller packs.
“You started off carrying the bags on one shoulder and then the other, but you soon sussed that the clever guys were carrying them on their heads. It was quite an experience.”
Despite the unimaginable impact on their country of one of the worst storms in history, Mr Mackintosh said that the Filipino people remained positive and resilient, despite having lost family and friends.
“One guy I met was talking about the northern part of the province of Visayas and how it was completely destroyed. Only two buildings were left standing, and everyone was living in a gymnasium. He told me he knew people who had been killed there – clients of the company he worked for.
“Then he told me he had family in Tacloban, and I knew how bad it was there. He told me he had had no contact from them. I asked him what he was thinking, and he said: ‘I think they will be OK’.
“Having seen TV pictures from Tacloban, I asked him what made him think that, and and he said, ‘Well, I just have to’.”
Full story in Northern Scot print version.