Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 17, 2013

Faith drives Traverse City to aid typhoon victims


---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Bill and Deborah Shaw expect to return next week to the work they love — helping impoverished Filipinos, while capturing their stories in words and pictures.

The Shaws leave Monday for Tacloban, a coastal city devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. They'll work with Kids International Ministries to aid victims in urgent need of food, water and medical aid.

Bill said he doesn't know exactly what his role will be, but he's had a long relationship with Jeff Long, who heads up the nonprofit.

"Jeff works with desperately poor people," Bill said. "We've worked together over the years, so he knows he can can trust me."

Bill said he will likely organize the effort's logistics and financial reserves, perhaps deciding on how money donated to KIM will be spent.

"I don't know. Maybe we'll be putting a building up or tearing one down or cooking food," said Shaw, an electrical contractor.

Deborah Shaw said she'll also take pictures to serve as a "visual voice for the people." Her photos and Bill's written accounts will go on the KIM website.

"We make a great team, and it's a blessing we'll be able to do that," she said.

KIM is now flying and driving in relief supplies, including 300,000 meals and roughly 18 on-the-ground workers. Its aim is to provide shelter from six months to a year.The team also includes government social workers, who'll focus on protecting vulnerable women and youth from being coerced into the sex trafficking industry, Bill said.

The Shaws first worked for KIM in 2002 for two years, and then returned to the Philippines in 2007 to create Urban Opportunities for Change. The nonprofit publishes magazines for homeless folks to sell for survival money. They also recruited homeless men and women to play for the Homeless World Cup Team Philippines.

The Shaws were living in Manila's outskirts when Typhoon Ondoy hit in September 2009. They were sitting in their masonry home at the time, basking in the country's celebration of the homeless soccer team's success in Italy, as rain beat against their door.

"Around 12 o'clock, the river, 100 feet away, rose 20 feet in 30 minutes. Homes were washed away instantly. It submerged one whole shopping mall. It was terrible. But it didn't kill like this storm killed," Bill said.

The couple portrayed stories of the typhoon victims in their magazine. Most still haven't recovered, Bill said.

Shaw said the couple's work was fueled by faith, and supported, in part, by Grace Episcopal Church and the Community Reformed Church in Charlevoix.

He urged donations to KIM, which has "no bureaucracy, no red tape."

"One hundred percent of the money goes to the Filipinos," he said.