Right this second all around the world, millions of children are in danger. Huge numbers of children are caught up in emergencies, like conflicts in Syria and South Sudan and natural disasters like Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. In the Philippines 1.7million children were forced from their homes when the Typhoon swept through their communities. I saw myself how children's lives have been destroyed and how they are slowly recovering with the help of UNICEF. As a father, it was a moving experience and the memories of the children I met will stay with me for the rest of my life.
The Philippine island of Bohol is recovering from a double whammy - a 7.2 earthquake in October and then Typhoon Hainan 3 weeks later, but now they're keen to welcome tourists.
With typhoon Haiyan but a distant memory for most people outside the Philippines, reports emerged this week of a stand-off on one of the islands most seriously affected, which is keeping thousands from being re-housed. There are still 50,000 people in Tacloban whose homes were destroyed or are unsafe to live in. Despite a pledge from the mayor to re-house everyone by December, the necessary funds to make that happen have not been forthcoming from the Philippine government. Why? A decades-old feud between two political families
As a young woman living with a disability in a disaster-affected community Mavie faces even more challenges than most - Plan works hard to ensure that the rights and needs of children like Mavie are taken into account when planning for, and responding to, disasters like Typhoon Haiyan.As a young woman living with a disability in a disaster-affected community Mavie faces even more challenges than most - Plan works hard to ensure that the rights and needs of children like Mavie are taken into account when planning for, and responding to, disasters like Typhoon Haiyan.
Today we learn of the incredible British generosity in the storm's wake. Following the DEC Philippines appeal last November, it is expected that around 90 million pounds has been donated by people in the UK. That's a truly phenomenal amount, a proud achievement for a country where austerity driven cuts have had most people tightening their financial belts.
There does seem to be some force behind the general conviction that donations should be made by those with a wage, not those with a student loan. Apart from in the case of students struggling to make ends meets, this reasoning appears disturbingly analogous with simply passing the buck.
Although the Philippine government is being criticized for not doing more, it is still difficult to find blame when it comes to natural disasters of this level. When it comes down to it, there is no one that can be directly blamed for this type of travesty, there is only so much anyone can do to prepare. The death tolls are nonetheless frightening and humbling.
On Friday 3rd January 2014, Britain prepared for severe flooding caused by strong winds. It's the third extreme storm that the UK has faced in less than a month. Last year at this time, the UK was battling freezing temperatures. Both weather events are extreme and abnormal.
It was the year of twerking and selfies, of Royal babies and Wimbledon wins, but befitting its numerals, 2013 also had more than its fair share of tragedy and mourning. As we look towards 2014, with a sense of optimism and hope, cast your mind back to the events and people that defined the passing year... We said goodbye this year to Nelson Mandela and Margaret Thatcher, as well as Lou Reed and Iain Banks, but hello to Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge and the future face of the British monarchy. Happy 2014 all; let's hope it's a positive one.
The generosity of millions of people has helped make our efforts possible and has brought hope to children who have had to face unimaginable suffering and hardship. We couldn't do it without you. As the card I was given as I left the Philippnes said - thank you to all those who have helped.
On about day 10 the mayor appeared and took charge of distributing relief goods. This involved men with automatic rifles, light and heavy machine guns, grenade launchers etc., protecting the relief boxes until the Mayor had shifted "the good stuff" into his newly commandeered storage buildings.
So, do we write off countries like the Philippines as simply 'disaster-prone', and ready our emergency relief teams for the next Haiyan? Absolutely not. We must act now on the knowledge that climate change is driving an increase in extreme weather, and provide better protection against the impact of climate-related disasters.
With storms like Typhoon Haiyan becoming a scarily more frequent occurrence, we need a truly global movement of people from all backgrounds and walks of life who are wide awake to the reality of climate change. Mosques in the UK and further afield in Europe are getting ready to Green Up! and do their bit to reduce their carbon footprints.
Our new research revealed that a higher proportion of the UK give money to charity than in any other country in the developed world. The World Giving Index ranks 135 countries on their generosity and allows us to compare the giving environments of nations across the world.
The magnitude of lost life is hard to comprehend. For most of the world's population, these tragedies - and others - are easy to forget when they are so far removed and life continues as normal. But what happens when tragedy hits close to home?
For the two weeks since the typhoon, these bodies have been laying face up - staring into the alternating blazing sun and pouring rain. The smell of decomposition was overbearing, but I couldn't look away from the little girl in the white dress. It seemed so wrong for her to be left to the elements like that, and stared at by anyone passing by.