Farmers unite for Filipinos

Jo FulwoodThe West Australian
Silvano Abenir.
Camera IconSilvano Abenir. Credit: The West Australian

Wheatbelt farmers have opened their pockets and their hearts to Filipino families, some of whom have lost everything in one of the world's worst natural disasters.

Typhoon Haiyan was the deadliest storm ever recorded in the Philippines, producing winds of more than 300km/h in November 2013, wiping out entire villages and killing more than 6000 people.

Bodies were still being discovered months later and many thousands more were injured or displaced from their homes and communities.

Silvano Abenir, originally from the Philippines but who has lived and worked in Newdegate for seven years, co-ordinated a relief effort to send aid to remote villages through the Agape Partners Foundation and other missionary organisations.

Mr Abenir, who works for Newman's Seed Works, said almost $30,000 was raised through the seed cleaning business, where farmers - from Newdegate and surrounding districts - donated the extra grain taken out during the cleaning process.

"I had no words to describe my feeling when I heard they were trying to help out those victims," Mr Abenir said.

"I wouldn't claim the honour that it was my idea, it never was.

"My original idea was to help out with my own means, because I didn't want to ask others to give, but these friends of mine said there were a lot of people willing to help, but they just didn't know how.

"The idea of getting help from farmers who were customers of the seed works was the brainchild of a farmer who wanted to help.

"They sort of concocted the idea behind my back, and my boss Robert came on board."

The money will go to remote villages affected by the typhoon that Mr Abenir said were often forgotten by the Government when it came to aid distribution.

"They are the villages away from the cameras, and so Government aid hardly reaches them," he said.

"Our fund will help at least 300 families."

The money raised will not only provide much-needed food and shelter, but will also assist families to get back on their feet in the long term.

While Mr Abenir said the funds had not yet been fully remitted from the campaign, the money would go directly to people in need.

"I was amazed by the response of the many customers of the seed works, and I cannot thank them enough," he said.

"This is typical Australian generosity and kind-heartedness, and I thank God that this is still fresh alive in many Australians."

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