Church’s ‘Yolanda’ rehabilitation work ‘unique’ – priest

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Participants from all over the world gather at the CBCP NASSA/Caritas Philippines' first ever Community Managed Disaster Risk Reduction (CMDRR) Summit, Hotel Elizabeth Cebu City, Nov. 6, 2015. (Photo: Nirva Delacruz)

CEBU City, Nov. 7, 2015 – A Catholic priest takes pride in the fact that the Church is “second to none” when it comes to helping Yolanda survivors get back on their feet.

“Our emergency response is like no other. We focus on the nine dioceses that had received the brunt of the typhoon … And we choose the poorest of the poor. This is what we call service,” said Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA)/Caritas Philippines, in an interview at a “Yolanda” second-year commemoration exhibit in Cebu.

According to the priest, many non-government organizations (NGOs) pick only one area they wish to help, lamenting that they tend to concentrate on relief work.

More than relief

“But it should not stop there. They must go beyond mere relief and push through early recovery and eventual rehabilitation. This is the more humane way of helping,” he stressed.

Gariguez pointed out that the Catholic Church in the Philippines, through NASSA/Caritas Philippines and its sister organizations, has already reached at least 1.8 million people, or 20 percent of the total affected population in the 9 provinces worst-hit by Yolanda.

“We do not just construct shelters. We build lives. We come out with programs that covers everything from livelihood down to ecosystem recovery,” he added.

These Caritas Internationalis Member Organizations (CIMOs) are also carrying out Yolanda rehabilitation programs either directly or through bilateral programs with affected dioceses.

These include:

  • Caritas UK (CAFOD)
  • Caritas Spain
  • Caritas Austria
  • Caritas USA (Catholic Relief Services)
  • Caritas Germany
  • Caritas Italiana
  • Caritas Switzerland
  • Caritas Czech
  • Caritas Netherlands (Cordaid)
  • Caritas Canada (Development & Peace)
  • Caritas Belgium
  • Caritas Luxembourg
  • CHARIS Singapore

Php 3.29 B

Gariguez went on to share that the total funding cost for the overall Caritas response now amounts to Php 3.29 billion.

Meanwhile, NASSA/Caritas Philippines’ ongoing three-year rehabilitation program for typhoon survivors called #REACHPhilippines, in partnership with the nine Yolanda-hit dioceses, zooms in on the provision of disaster-resilient homes, installation of water and sanitation facilities, hygiene promotion, food security and livelihood assistance and trainings, community-managed disaster risk reduction trainings, capacity building, community organizing and ecosystem recovery.

“We don’t only give food, but houses. We have a livelihood component. We are only living out the integral human development which the Church teaches,” he added.

‘Most massive rehabilitation program’

#REACHPhilippines is reportedly the “most massive rehabilitation program” led by the Philippine Catholic Church.

To date, it has benefited as many as 955,000 people affected by Yolanda with funds amounting to Php 1.22 billion.

A notable contribution of the beneficiaries in the #REACHPhilippines program comes in the form of “sweat equity,” which plays an important role in ensuring a stronger sense of ownership and accountability.

Moreover, transparent and honest spending is being practiced in all levels from the national down to the diocesan social action centers (DSACs) through regular financial monitoring, evaluation, and auditing from international auditing companies. (Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCP News)

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