Manila — Teen pop idol Justin Bieber visited young typhoon victims in the Philippines this week, after launching a global campaign to help those affected by the disaster.
Bieber arrived from Australia and flew into Tacloban, the capital of Leyte province that was devastated by the storm, where he handed out shirts, toys and basketballs to the children.
The 19-year-old star visited an elementary school being used as an evacuation center in spite of heavy damage from last month’s Typhoon Haiyan (called Yolanda in the Philippines), which killed almost 6,000 people and left over 1,700 others missing, and destroyed entire villages and towns in the central Philippines.
“It was like we were not hit by the typhoon, like Yolanda never came,” a young girl told Manila’s TV5 Television, trying to describe her feelings on seeing her idol.
Bieber walked around and mingled with some 300 kids before moving to an outdoor stage to perform, said Kate Donovan, a UNICEF spokeswoman.
“He played a very beautiful set,” said Ms. Donovan. “He played a series of Christmas songs and some of his hits as well, including ‘Baby.'”
Bieber went to another school-turned-shelter, where he played basketball with some boys and posed for pictures with his fans, said reports.
“Justin brought a lot of joy, hope and cheer to the hundreds of children who were there,” said Angela Kearney, UNICEF’s emergency coordinator for Haiyan response, in a statement.
Kearney said the donations Bieber raises “will give some of the children who were caught in the path of Haiyan access to education, vaccinations, better nutrition, clean water and sanitation.”
In a video posted on the Prizeo fundraising platform, Bieber asked his fans to help him support Typhoon Haiyan victims.
“The moment I heard about the tragedy a few weeks back, I thought I can count on you guys to make a difference,” said Bieber.