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India-based group donates $1M to Yolanda victims

(Updated 12:28 p.m.) An India-based international network of charities has donated $1 million to the victims of super typhoon Yolanda, the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Reconstruction and Recovery (PARR) said.

In a statement, PARR said the India-based Embracing the World (ETW) donated the $1 million to the Yolanda Multi-Donor Fund created under the Philippine Disaster Relief Foundation.

ETW was inspired by "Amma," also known as Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, a 60-year-old humanitarian from Kerala, India, where the group is also headquartered.

Amma and ETW representatives said they personally saw the effects of Yolanda in November 2013, which made them decide to make the donation.

The group said the amount, sourced from its US counterpart M.A. Center, will be used for the educational needs of children, including orphans.

But Swami Ramakrishnananda Puri, a member of the M.A. Center board, said the contribution will still be "supplemented" in the future by vocational training for displaced victims and living expenses for high school students.

“We continue to be moved by the outpouring of support from the international community.  We are especially grateful to ETW for being one of the first international private donors to reach out to PARR to make a donation to the Yolanda survivors," said PARR Secretary Panfilo Lacson.

“We congratulate Amma for undertaking this advocacy not only in the Philippines, but in the whole world. We hope she inspires more people by her example,” he added.

He likewise said he admires ETW for conducting two months of research before deciding where to give its donation.

"We encourage other private donors to do the same.  We also hope that, like ETW, other private donors will coordinate with PARR so that we can track the donations that are meant for Yolanda affected communities. PARR can assist the government and private sector in identifying areas with unmet needs, and in efficiently allocating resources to satisfy such needs," he said.

But he clarified that PARR does not hold or manage any funds, although the donation to the fund will enable them to include this information in the "comprehensive database" they are formulating.

"The database will facilitate the efficient allocation of resources and financial donations to Yolanda affected communities, especially to those areas that are not getting enough attention or aid," he said.

According to the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAiTH) website, the total foreign aid that has so far been pledged to the Philippines amounts to at least P25,882,360,026.

Of this number, P3,093,682,576 is in cash and P22,788,677,450 is non-cash. But it said only P643,203,308 (cash) actually passed through the government. — Kimberly Jane Tan/RSJ, GMA News