CBCP head: ‘Want to help Yolanda victims? Listen first’

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MANILA, Jan. 30, 2014— The head of the Catholic bishops’ leadership is telling the world to say less and listen more to the needs of the typhoon Yolanda survivors.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, CBCP President and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said that the victims need a listening ear for their charity needs.

He said it is not enough that humanitarian agencies provide the victims with relief goods or shelter. “It must be respectful of the feelings of the people,” Villegas said.

“They must be consulted first and heard. If they prefer building materials, let it be. If they prefer that houses be constructed, let’s do it. Let us be sensitive to their feelings,” he said.

“We give not for a position of higher viewpoint but for a position of equality between benefactors and beneficiaries,” said Villegas.

The archbishop cited, for instance, his archdiocese’s housing program for typhoon victims from Eastern Samar who migrated to Northern Samar.

Villegas said he was surprised when he learned that instead of concrete houses with iron sheets for roofing that they offered, the victims just asked for nipa huts.

“We asked them why and they told us that it’s because they can’t live in a house that would bring back memories of concrete walls and iron sheets that killed their parents,” according to him.

“We need to listen to them because there are gifts which we think are good but there are also gifts which people think are better for them. We need to respect that.”

“The bottom line is please listen to the needs of the people because we might have great ideas but they have feelings of devastation and even trauma. Therefore, we should be respectful of that because it will take time to heal these pains,” Villegas said. (CBCPNews)

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