Book shipment headed way to cyclone-stricken Philippines

Thanks to joint effort by Filipino community and Gisborne business Pultron Composites.

TURNED A PAGE: At a gathering to say thanks to Pultron Composites Ltd on behalf of the Philippine community are (from left) Saramae Lamb, Jehane Lamb, Bronwen Holdsworth (Pultron finance director), Dave Gittens, Ben McClutchie, Jean Schierning (Pultron shipping officer), John Giffin and Maila Tawera. Pultron was pivotal in a large consignment of books finally being shipped to the country after a year of customs issues. Picture by Paul Rickard

THOUSANDS of children’s books donated by Gisborne people are making their way by ship to the Philippines, thanks to a joint effort by the Filipino community and Gisborne business Pultron Composites Ltd.

Staff from Pultron made several large wooden boxes specifically to carry the books and the company is happy to see these on the way at last.

Community leader Jehane Lamb thanked the company on behalf of the Philippine community.

The Gisborne community has been helping the Philippines since late 2013 when one of the strongest tropical cyclones on record devastated the Southeast Asian country.

Known as Super Typhoon Yolanda, it killed 6340 and left 1.9 million homeless.

Seventy Filipino families live and work in Gisborne, and the community rallied around them then and has done so again, this time with a consignment of books.

The idea to gather the books first came from Gisborne Filipino Jesil Cajes, who is from the island of Bohol, which only three weeks before the typhoon was hit by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, killing 222 people and destroying 14,500 buildings.

More than food and cash

She had been back since the typhoon struck and saw the damage first hand, but realised her continued mission trips were not helping impoverished people in the long run.

She wanted to do something other than provide food and cash and saw education as a long-term solution.

“They have no access to books,” she said.

Tairawhiti Multicultural Council member John Giffin approached Pultron to see if it could help with packing and shipping the books.

“They offered their assistance straight away but it was after the books were collected and packed that the nightmare began,” Mr Giffin said.

“For nearly a year Pultron struggled to get the boxes into the Philippines past a very dysfunctional customs that thwarted every effort Jean Schierning (Pultron’s shipping officer) made to get them out of the warehouse at Pultron.”

Company finance director Dame Bronwen Holdsworth enlisted the help of a non-governmental organisation and the Philippine embassy in Wellington to finally get the books through customs.


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