A trip halfway around the world began at the Rowley Dunkin’ Donuts.
It was right before Thanksgiving when Helen Noble, a Rowley resident and Ipswich veterinarian, stopped in for a quick pick-me-up at her local coffee shop. There, she ran into Cora Carter, a fellow member of the New Life Community Church in Georgetown.
Carter was greatly concerned about her home nation of the Philippines, which had been hit by the devastating Typhoon Haiyan earlier that month. More than 6,000 people were killed.
Carter was trying to get a group of Americans together to go help however they could.
“I really felt like I could be of some help because I had been to Asia before,” said Noble, who had made three trips to the Far East as a veterinarian. “I had never been in a situation where there was such a disaster, but I was used to the culture, even though all of the countries are a little bit different.”
In a matter of weeks, Carter had put together the Resources for Philippine Rural Communities Corp. and a team of nine people with medical, agricultural and logistic experience. They headed for the Philippines in the second week of January on a survey trip.
Noble would provide her veterinary skills, while her 24-year-old photojournalist son, Caleb, would document the journey.
“Everything was pretty much devastated by the typhoon,” Noble said of her arrival, which saw her and Caleb taking the last boat out from Cebu to the city of Ormoc. “Ultimately, they are just starting over with the animals that they do have.”
Nicknamed Yolanda by the locals, the typhoon had left chaos in its wake, with cars hanging in trees and boats lying in the streets.
“It looked like a cyclone had hit it,” Noble said of Ormoc. “But I was amazed by the resilience of the people. They have nothing, and they are a very joyous people. There was debris everywhere, but life just goes on.