Expert Voices: Danny Pins in the Philippines

November 11, 2014


On a recent visit to Manila, JDC Chief Financial Officer for Africa and Asia Danny Pins reflects on the humanitarian group’s life-saving work helping victims of Typhoon Haiyan and talks about his surprising family connection to the Philippines, which sheltered his German-born mother during World War II.

JDC responded urgently to Typhoon Haiyan, a tropical cyclone that struck the central Philippines with catastrophic force on November 8, 2013, killing over 6,000 people and affecting some 14 million Filipinos, who lost homes, schools, and livelihoods. For more information on our response, click here.

Q: How has JDC responded to the disaster in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan?
A: JDC’s policy to spend 25 percent of “Open Mailbox” contributions for immediate relief and 75 percent for rehabilitation and development is proving effective. As most of the international NGOs are expected to leave by January, JDC remains. This will greatly increase the sustainability of the psychosocial training, disaster risk reduction, and livelihood programming.

Q: How has your family history inspired your work?
A: During the Second World War, my family was among the 1,300 refugees saved by the Filipino people, and for me this has been an opportunity to repay the debt. I feel honored that I work for a Jewish organization that not only decided to send relief following the disaster but chose me to do the work.

Q: What have been some of the most memorable moments working in the Philippines so far?
A: The bringing of a wheelchair to a bedridden person in a remote village — and to understand the effect that has on the family and village — is amazing. The smiling faces of children and teachers in newly built and safe classrooms, understanding that this is an investment in the future is another memory I will never forget.

Q: Were you surprised by anything you saw?
A: The resilience of the Filipino people is truly remarkable. Their ability to recover so quickly and rebuild is truly a sign of strength.

Q: How have locals reacted to working with a Jewish NGO?
A: We always explain who we are and the overwhelming reaction has been very positive. Many have asked why Jewish people do this and we explain “tikkun olam.”

Q: Will locals be better prepared to deal with future natural disasters in the wake of JDC’s work?
A: There is no telling what people will do in the next disaster. However, already during Typhoon Glenda we witnessed an improvement. JDC has integrated into its strategy not only psychosocial training for first responders in the villages but disaster risk reduction activities as well.

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