Red Cross worker finds job a challenge
DUMAGUETE CITY—Louella Bael retreats to a corner for some shut-eye on board a Coast Guard search and rescue vessel, which just left the Dumaguete port for Guihulngan City.
“I haven’t slept for two days,” she remarks, but sits up obligingly at this request for an interview.
Bael, 52, chapter service representative of the Philippine National Red Cross in Negros Oriental, is leading some ten Red Cross volunteers, mostly nurses, to deliver tents, blankets, water, medicine and other supplies to the victims of Monday’s magnitude 6.9 killer earthquake, which arrived in Dumaguete early Thursday from the Red Cross Pre-Positioning Center in Cagayan de Oro City.
“The past two days have been very hectic,” she said. “We had been coordinating the arrival of volunteers and relief goods from other Red Cross chapters in the country as well as the national Red Cross office and the International Committee of the Red Cross.”
The Red Cross strives to immediately respond to calamities in line with its disaster management service.
“Chairman Dick Gordon ensures we are always on top of the situation and has always been calling every 30 minutes to ask for updates,” Bael said.
The earthquake, which resulted in scores of deaths and over a hundred missing people due to landslides in the town of La Libertad and the City of Guihulngan, has changed the disaster scenario for Negros Oriental.
“I used to say that we in Negros Oriental have been so lucky since we are not a disaster-prone province. Now, I can never say that because we have been badly hit,” Bael said.
The earthquake struck while the province was still picking up the pieces from the damage wrought by Tropical Storm “Sendong” on Dec. 17.
“We have not yet finished attending to the Sendong victims and now this happens. I guess disaster management will be the Dumaguete Red Cross’ number one priority from now on, apart from our blood program and our safety services program,” Bael said.
The Red Cross has been Bael’s life since she joined the group right after completing her Bachelor of Science in Social Work degree from Silliman University in 1980.
“My job is a challenge. Sometimes, it can get frustrating but I find happiness and contentment in helping the people. Talking to them and consoling them means so much to me and, I hope, to them as well,” she said.
Now a proud grandmother of three, Bael couldn’t think of working anywhere else. “This is my first job and my last. I intend to retire as a Red Cross worker,” she said.
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