President's Blog: WU Foundation in the Philippines
Last month I visited the Philippines. I was in Manila to meet with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), government officials and representatives from the United Nations, as well as Western Union® Agents, to help launch a Western Union Foundation program to promote financial literacy in the Philippines as part of the Western Union Education for Better program. I also met with Western Union employees to thank them for their generosity – with our team in the Philippines achieving a 97 percent rate of giving through the Western Union Foundation annual employee giving campaign. Throughout my visit, I was continuously impressed by the true compassion and kindness exhibited by the people I met. What I found equally as impressive, was their fundamental commitment to lifting their country economically and to giving back to those less fortunate – especially in their local communities.
This week, my heart is again with the Filipino people – and the Filipino diaspora community around the world. Typhoon Haiyan was unprecedented in its scale and devastation across the Philippines. Thousands of lives have been lost and hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced from their homes with entire communities completely flattened. Those who survived have nowhere to go for shelter, and in many cases, no clean water to drink or food to eat. And this is just in the short term. The long-term toll has yet to be seen – although from experience, I know it will take a very long time for many areas to recover and rebuild.
Amidst the destruction and sadness, I am also extremely proud of our Foundation efforts to quickly respond to help those in need. Within 72 hours after the typhoon hit the Philippines, a coordinated aid package was created to provide immediate relief to individuals, families and communities. Through a variety of Foundation emergency-relief initiatives, money is being moved to the affected areas – via grants and donations to qualified NGOs from Western Union employees and Agents. It’s a synchronized effort that uses our expertise, generosity, reach and NGO relationships to help people when they need it most. Our Foundation commitment to local communities extends outward to many Western Union customers, Agents and colleagues in the Philippines. They can count on us to be there for them over the long-term, helping rebuild lives and livelihoods for years to come.