Church body gives 1,813 ‘Yolanda’ families new homes for Christmas

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MANILA, Nov. 28, 2014—Some 1,813 families who had lost their houses to typhoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan) in 2013 are happy to tell the world they will be celebrating their first Christmas in brand-new shelters given to them by the Church’s social action arm.

Caritas Philippines will be building 3,753 shelter units (ten designs, eight resilient features) in nine dioceses (118 communities) across Visayan Region under the #REACHPhilippines Project. (Photo: NASSA/Caritas Philippines)

“I have devoted my life into service expecting nothing in return. This house is the most priceless gift that’s been offered to me. I can only give thanks,” shared Felicidad Santocidad, one of the beneficiaries in, Daanbantayan, Cebu.

“Our Christmases will never be the same again! Even with just plain porridge in the table, we feel we are richer,” Leopoldo Alcazaren of San Dionisio, Iloilo said.

The houses built by the Church’s National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice, and Peace (NASSA)/Caritas Philippines, fall under three categories: transitional, progressive core, and permanent.

Each unit has key features and varying life spans depending on the preference and need of the beneficiary.

This year’s recipients are from the disaster-hit communities of Leyte, Samar, Eastern Samar, Palawan, Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Iloilo, and Cebu.

As of October 31, NASSA/Caritas Philippines has already constructed 241 permanent shelters, 245 core shelters, 737 transitional shelters, and has repaired 61 units.

Moreover, construction of 135 permanent shelters, 242 progressive core shelters, 42 transitional shelters, and 110 repairs, across the dioceses are underway, and are expected to be finished before the year ends.

“We do not just build houses that could withstand typhoons or disasters. We also considered the culture and preference of the recipients,” NASSA/Caritas Philippines National Director and Cáceres Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona said.

The prelate explained indigenous communities in Palawan prefer keeping the old look of their houses, adding only features that would make them resilient.

The houses are built based on the eight resilient messages set by the Shelter Cluster Organization.

These are: build on strong foundations, tied-down from bottom up, braced against the storm, using strong joints, good roof, safe location, simple shape, and prepared by the resident.

Another feature of the housing project is the incorporation of the sweat equity system, which revived “bayanihan” in the communities.

“This is our holistic approach to disaster risk management. We are not only giving them fish, we are also teaching them how to fish. Along with the values formation, we are building their capacities by giving them various trainings such as skills on how to build and repair their own houses,” Tirona added.

Besides building shelters in Yolanda-hit areas, NASSA/Caritas Philippines also arranges for the provision of water and sanitation facilities, food security, livelihood assistance and trainings, disaster risk reduction trainings, capacity building, and ecosystem recovery. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)

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