On Nov. 8, Super Typhoon Haiyan landed in the Philippines with 200 mph winds and tsunami-like waves in one of the strongest storms ever recorded.

The typhoon left roughly 8,000 people dead or missing and a wake of devastation throughout the underdeveloped country.

“I remember coming up on the ferry and you could see the shore line and all the down palm trees… Houses were destroyed, and what used to be a lush tropical area was completely desolate and bare,” says Dr. Eric Niemeyer, a family physician from Hyde Park who accompanied Matthew 25: Ministries’ relief mission after the typhoon.

Niemeyer was among a group of seven volunteer specialists and doctors who traveled to Bantayan Island—located in the center of the Philippine archipelago—under the banner of Matthew 25. In an area of the country where reliable infrastructure and utilities varied, the devastation and assistance needed was pronounced.

“Anything that was not made of concrete was flattened, and a lot of the concrete structures had significant damages,” says Tim Mettey, Matthew 25 CEO, who coordinated the relief effort.

Like their humanitarian missions following Hurricane Katrina, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Matthew 25 utilized its network of affiliated ministries to get the right services to the Philippines as quickly as possible. To expedite the process, Niemeyer and the other doctors packed all their personal belongings in carry-on bags, while all their medical equipment and medication was checked as luggage.

“Our whole mission is to bring as much as we possibly can during these disasters,” says Niemeyer.

After three days of traveling via planes, boats and trucks, the team reached its destination and immediately started administering aid.

From cuts and lacerations, to respiratory issues from storm debris, the Matthew 25 team treated a diverse set of conditions during its seven-day trip. Each day, the team worked from dawn to dusk underneath a makeshift tent at various villages.

All told, the team saw roughly 600 people during the mission. Both Niemeyer and Mettey say the treatment wouldn’t have taken place without local support and assistance.

“I can’t say this [trip] was any different than the other ones, but the thing that is truly remarkable is that the people are so grateful,” says Mettey. “The human spirit is just remarkable.”

Mettey and Matthew 25 understand that relief efforts in underdeveloped regions of the world require a long-term commitment. While some public attention has shifted away from the disaster, Matthew 25 has committed about $2 million in cash and goods, and plans to return to the islands this year.

“It’s a long-term effort and a minimum of a year afterward,” says Mettey. “Our goal is to help the impoverished as quickly and passionately as possible.”