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PROVO — Sister Bendoy lost her parents, siblings and house to Typhoon Haiyan.
Nine of Bendoy's immediate family members were killed by the storm. She is temporarily living in Manilla with her two surviving siblings after returning home a month early from her mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
After hearing about Bendoy's situation from his sister's email, Cameron Manwaring decided to find a productive way to help his sister's first companion in the Philippines Bacolod Mission. His fundraiser on MicroGiving was shared on social media and exceeded its $5,000 goal within 24 hours of its creation on Monday.
“It’s just hard to see that happen to someone that we care about and who took care of my sister and our family,” he said. “I don’t know if my sister would have been able to get through those hard first couple of months the way that she did without having that kind of tough, native love she got from Sister Bendoy. Now it’s our turn to give back, if we can, as she’s going through something much harder.”
His sister Megan said Bendoy's home in Letye, near Tacloban, was directly hit by the storm and completely destroyed. Bendoy came to the mission from humble circumstances, Manwaring said.
"This sister gave everything that she had to be able to serve a mission, and so she doesn’t have finances and her parents are gone and her home is gone," he said. "Basically within one week of returning from her mission, she just doesn’t have anything.”
Manwaring said his family feels indebted to Bendoy, who helped his sister love the Philippines and learn the language. He described his sister as "the girl of all girls" who had always dreamed of serving in Paris, so living in the Philippines was an adjustment.
Bendoy was used to the bugs and the Philippine's environment, which helped his sister. During one of her first weeks in the Philipinnes, his sister wrote home about an occasion where they came across what she thought was a fire hose in the road on their way home from an appointment. As they were walking around it, it started to move and revealed itself to be a 12-foot long snake. She didn't even scream, she wrote.
"She helped a lot," Manwaring said. "She was her first companion, so she was the one who really helped (my sister) learn the language and culture and got her through a lot of the awkard things."
This sister gave everything that she had to be able to serve a mission, and so she doesn't have finances and her parents are gone and her home is gone.
Manwaring said they have been communicating with Bendoy's mission president and were able to get her contact information. They are researching safe ways to send the money, but said if they can't find a secure method they will have the finances hand-delivered through some friends who are going on a service trip.
Because the amount of money raised by the fundraiser is enough to pay an average worker's salary for several years, Manwaring said they are considering setting up separate funds for living and eduction costs. He said they have enough money for Bendoy's family, so excess funds will be given to other people in need.
“One thing that I have a really strong opinion of is that a little bit of our money can go a long way over there,” Manwaring said. “With how many people who have died in the storm and been affected by it, I hope that we can help out a little bit here and there.”
He said he hopes more people realize they can help even though it can often be easy to sit back and think there isn't much they can do when a disaster is occuring in another part of the world.
“There are certain things that really do matter, and I think with how familiar people are with social media and other things it’s amazing what can be accomplished if we use those things for good,” Manwaring said.