From: Kim L.
Sent: November 30, 2013
To: undisclosed recipients
Subject: Fw: Canadian man dashed over from Montreal in Canada to Ormoc City in Leyte to rescue his girlfriend whom he had never met face-to-face, except on Facebook and Skype
Houssam Hammoudi, a 31-year-old Canadian Muslim based in Montreal, was horrified by the scenes of devastation he saw on TV when Typhoon Yolanda hit the eastern Visayas. He feared for the safety of Mary Grace Acojedo, of Ormoc City in Leyte. He had befriended 22-year-old Mary Grace via Facebook and Skype – and an online romance was blooming between them over the eight months since they got to know each other. Houssam, a laboratory engineer with a research and development company, was worried for Mary Grace’s safety. He took leave from work and flew to Cebu. Once he arrived, he got on a ferry and reached storm-ravaged Ormoc City.
Mary Grace’s brother brought him to a private clinic where he saw his online fiancee face-to-face for the first time. She was in bad shape. Her jaw, left leg, left arm, wrist and some fingers were broken, and she had deep cuts in the face and body. She badly needed surgery, including one to save her left leg from amputation. It was traumatic … meeting her for the first time under such tragic circumstances. Houssam knew he had to get Mary Grace out of Ormoc and into a hospital fast. He paid her bills and carried her out of the clinic. A tricycle took them to the port. There, he found that all ferry tickets had been sold out. Thousands of passengers, including those from worst-hit Tacloban City, had flocked there and were desperate to get out. Houssam ran to the Philippine Coast Guard office to plead for help. A Coast Guard officer, whose name he could not recall, helped put them on a ferry to Cebu.