An exhibition revealing why the £1.25 million donated by generous Ulster folk to the Philippines typhoon appeal was so badly needed has opened in the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.
Shocking images of the typhoon’s destruction – which killed at least 6,268 people – instigated an international aid effort after the natural disaster last November.
Last night a major exhibition of photographs by Belfast photographer Matt Mackey, 27, who visited the area with Concern Worldwide, was officially opened.
‘Faces of the Philippines’ reveals how the lives of Filipino families have been changed forever as a result of the typhoon, and will be on display until May 3.
Typhoon Haiyan, known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, devastated portions of south east Asia, particularly the Philippines, on November 8, 2013.
It tore a path of destruction over 100 miles wide through the central Philippines and brought torrential rain, winds of over 170mph and a storm surge of up to 25 feet that devastated coastal areas.
Over 14 million people were affected, including five million whose homes were damaged or destroyed.
“The idea behind me going out was to show the people of Northern Ireland where their money goes when they support humanitarian organisations such as Concern through their emergency appeals,” said Matt.
“It constantly evolves in front of you as you talk to local people and find out their personal stories.
“That’s how the pictures develop.”
Matt visited three islands on his trip as well as spending time in Concepcion where Concern is based.
He took more then 15,000 photographs, and said it was difficult trying to choose just 24 for the exhibition.
“I met characters and got a feel for how the natural disaster had affected their lives,” he added.
“One man, a fisherman, had his house and fishing boat destroyed so he had lost his home and his livelihood.
“But this is not a community sitting back waiting for handouts, they are resilient and want to get on with their lives and move on.”
Concern is still helping those whose lives were ripped apart. So far they say they have helped more than 110,000 people.
Peter Anderson, NI director of Concern, said: “When Concern arrived, people weren’t standing there with their hands out. They were saying give us a hand up, help us get back to fishing to earning a living, give us the materials and we will rebuild our homes.”
For more information visit: www.waterfront.co.uk/whatson/
See Morning View, page 18