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Chaplain, Bolingbrook man leads aid effort for native Philippines

Published: Friday, Jan. 24, 2014 12:17 p.m. CST

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BOLINGBROOK – Few could imagine the sheer devastation that would transpire Nov. 8, 2013 in Southeast Asia.

Homelessness, starvation and widespread destruction are now part of everyday life for millions in the Philippines who were victims of Typhoon Haiyan – one of the largest typhoons ever on record that reportedly killed more than 6,000 people.

Meanwhile here at home, all Dan Ocampo could do was watch the coverage in real time and hope for the best as the native Filipino still has family in the area since coming to the United States in 2001.

“We were watching it closely when they said it was about to touch down so it was almost like the countdown with the New Year,” said Ocampo, chaplain at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital. “It was so enormous that no one was really ready for it.”

Fortunately for the Bolingbrook resident, his family lives in the northern Philippines, while most of the destruction occurred in the southern to central regions of the island country. But he wasn’t spared from the heartache of losing loved ones.

“I’ve lost a lot of my friends there…people I went to seminary and college with,” Ocampo said. “They are also pastors and they’re missing.”

Not long after the typhoon touched down, Ocampo got to work and organized a collection to send supplies to the ailing country. Adventist Hinsdale, along with other hospitals within Adventist Midwest Health, donated hospital lines, medical supplies, hygiene items, clothing and food.

Earlier this month, about 30 volunteers gathered in the Fellowship Hall at Fil-Am Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Hinsdale and packed the supplies for victims.

“Everyone who responded was just so generous,” he said. “The love is just overflowing. People are calling me, emailing me. …I’ve never received so many emails in my entire life.”

Ocampo said while collections are no longer being gathered, there is still a great deal that needs to be done for a country that is still “not even five years” from being back to where it was. In much of the country, there are “tent cities” due to loss of shelter, and an influx in the amount of orphans.

“They were left behind by the parents who sacrificed their lives for the sake of the kids,” he said. “Most of them are being taken by the government because there’s no one to take care of them.”

Ocampo said after four weeks there was a minimum of 300 boxes collected that were about 24 inches high and 21 inches wide full of supplies. He said what struck him the most was how much people were “driven by love.”

“People responded so well with love and the love of helping people to be better and to be well,” he said. “It is out of the heartbeat that you can feel the agony and the needs of other people and I believe whoever in the world needs any helping, those who have been driven by love can do this.”

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