UAE Real Life: My Holiday Helped Change Lives in The Philippines

When the devastating typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, Dubai girl Lisa Kingsley put her job on hold and went to help
BySarah SwainFriday , 13 December 2013
“I didn’t see any wailing or crying. People just got on with it”
© ITP Images
“I didn’t see any wailing or crying. People just got on with it”
“I’m so grateful I was able to come to the Philippines and spend some time with some of the most resilient, beautiful spirits I’ve ever met.” Alicia Keys
© ITP Images
“I’m so grateful I was able to come to the Philippines and spend some time with some of the most resilient, beautiful spirits I’ve ever met.” Alicia Keys
Cheryl Cole
© 2009 Comic Relief
Cheryl Cole
“[After] the Golden Globes, we did the Haiti Tele-a-thon and we were able to rally some troops around. We’ll see what goes on from here and see what we’re able to do.”
George Clooney
© 2013 AFP
“[After] the Golden Globes, we did the Haiti Tele-a-thon and we were able to rally some troops around. We’ll see what goes on from here and see what we’re able to do.”
George Clooney
© 2009 Comic Relief
© 2013 AFP
© ITP Images
© ITP Images
© WENN.com

Expat Lisa Kingsley spends her weekdays working in real estate, sealing million-dirham deals on some of the world’s most exclusive properties. But when typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines last month, killing almost 4,000 people and leaving half a million homeless, she wanted to do something more practical than donating cash to charity. She booked a week’s holiday and flew to the devastated country to help. “For me it’s alien not to want to do something,” says the Brit expat, 31. “It’s not enough to hand over some money and hope it’s going to the right place. People ask me ‘Why?’ but I say ‘Why not?’. If you’re in a position to help financially, it’s bizarre to me that people don’t. You can’t just throw some aid at people and hope they’ll be OK.”

Her trip wasn’t the first time she’s gone the distance to help others. Four years ago she set up Basics UAE, a charitable organisation that helps people in need at home and abroad. “I’ve known my boss for a long time,” she says. “He wasn’t surprised when I said I wanted to go!”

Basic Conditions

Lisa travelled to Aklan province, west of the worst affected area, Tacloban. She and other volunteers drove to the nearest city, four hours away, to buy vital supplies such as plastic sheeting and rice. They packaged the goods in a school gym before handing them out to more than 2,000 families, many of whose homes had been flattened. While conditions were bad, she says she was stunned by how well locals coped. “They’re very resilient people. You didn’t see any wailing or crying or anything. They just got on with it.”The experience couldn’t have been further from working in the UAE, and Lisa says the week was the most gruelling of her life. “I’ve never really been a typical Dubai girl – I’m not afraid of getting dirty and sometimes taking risks, such as wandering around labour camps. But it was hard manual labour.” Electricity was on curfew, going off at 6pm, and the water supply was patchy. “As long as you washed when the water was on it was OK,” she laughs. “We didn’t smell the best!” While personal grooming was hardly a priority, she did squeeze in some beauty supplies. “I carried a mirror in my bag, and tinted moisturiser. I’m still a woman at the end of the day! But you have to think of what these people are going through, and not having my hair straighteners was hardly a massive issue!”

Back to Reality
Now Lisa’s back at her desk she’s even more determined to help. She says she plans to return to the Philippines, this time to hand out food. “I’ve come back but it’s not the end,” she says. “All the crops have been destroyed – there’s no food – so the real problems are going to start in the next month.”

Want to make a difference like Lisa? 
Check out these local good causes…

1. Gulf for Good
Take on an epic challenge such as trekking in Morocco or climbing Kilimanjaro – Cheryl Cole did it, so it can’t be that hard! Money raised goes to charities around the world. INFO: www.gulf4good.org

2. Volunteer in the UAE
From giving food to labourers to ironing laundry for an orphanage, you can help out in Dubai and Abu Dhabi by. INFO: www.volunteerinUAE.com

Array

Related Articles

When Danielle Wilson Naqvi adopted a baby from Pakistan, she never imagined she’
Samira Al Romaithi shares her story of strength; how she not only survived an or
We chat to UAE-based Tanaz Dizadji, Sahar Wahbeh and Hermoine Macura who have ma