"I cried my eyes out"

Student is to organise a charity event for the Philippines

Sheryl Lynn Baas on the Dutch tv-show Pauw & Witteman

By Sybren Eppinga

Sheryl Lynn Baas, a student of Cultural Anthropology, has asked the university to help organise a disaster appeal for the Filipino victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

“I cried my eyes out all the weekend during the storm”, says Sheryl Lynn Baas. Though the father of this student and former beauty queen (Miss Netherlands 2006 and Miss Globe 2013) is Dutch, her mother is from the Philippines and many of her relatives live in the stricken area.

Haiyan was one of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded, tearing across the island of Leyte with wind speeds exceeding 300 kilometres per hour. The town of Tacloban, with a population of a quarter of a million, was devastated. According to the president of the Philippines Benigno Aquino, the number of casualties is somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500.

The Filipino emergency aid agency reports that the majority of the victims fell in the provinces of Leyte and Samar, where huge waves flooded the towns and villages, leaving at least 3,665 people wounded and 600.000 without a home.

Baas continues: “I have to rely on what I see on television, because there’s no other news. We were relieved to hear from my uncle on the Monday after the storm. He said: “We survived.” Her cousin has been trying to stay in touch with their relatives since the disaster, but Baas adds: “There’s still no power; it’s a waiting game.”
Sheryl Lynn Baas wants to join forces with Leiden University to organise a charity evening to raise money for the disaster area. She has been travelling to the Philippines since she was three and visited the country only last summer. As she explains, the country is often hit by storms: “Leyte is not often affected, but this was the most powerful storm ever.”

She has also visited her mother’s native country in connection with her university course a few times and she is planning to return to attend a winter course on water management. “It’s to be held in January, but I’m leaving early to help victims.”

In 2007, the student set up her own “Sheryl Lynn Foundation” to provide aid and education to children in the Philippines. “We’re hoping to organise the do on the twenty-first or twenty-second of December: we want to do it properly, make it spectacular.” In a month’s time, more will be known about the situation in the Philippines and she will know more precisely where to send the money. “We want to give aid in remote areas; people have been badly affected there too.”

The university is happy to help with the relief, as Gerard Persoon, a professor of Anthropology, explains: “We have long-standing ties with the Philippines and feel committed to help after this disaster. The university’s partner is in Luzon, in the northern part of the country which was not affected. “We’re making plans for the charity event”, adds Persoon. “Perhaps we’ll have some Filipino musicians, and we’ll be explaining to people where the Foundation’s money will be spent. The faculty will at least arrange a space for us.”

Last Monday saw a Giro 555-fund-raising event on national television and radio.

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"I cried my eyes out"

Sheryl Lynn Baas, a student of Cultural Anthropology, has asked the university to help …