MANILA, April 5, 2014 — Unsatisfied with the 1, 000 Christmas packages they distributed to ‘Yolanda’ survivors in Leyte several days before Christmas, the Focolare Youth in the Philippines rolled out the ‘Start Again Project’ to assist in the reconstruction of houses and schools.
Moved by the sight of roofless schools and churches in different communities in Leyte, members of the Focolare Youth sourced out construction materials and transported them to the province, said New City Press Philippines (NCPP) Operations Manager Romeo P. Vital in an interview with CBCP News.
With their own hands, they replaced the roofs of schools and churches whose tops were blown away by the typhoon, so that the school children and the faithful in the area could use them immediately, he added.
The Focolare Youth, who personally distributed Christmas packages to typhoon survivors in Leyte conceptualized the project, after realizing those people needed something more than relief goods, Vital said.
Relief goods from domestic and foreign donors flooded Leyte. R
econstruction of the communities was seen as the next step towards recovery, and Focolare was more than eager to join.
Many other young Focolare members were inspired by the goals of ‘Start Again Project’ and took part in its efforts in Leyte, Vital said. They stayed in Leyte for a week going to communities, meeting barangay chairmen, schools principals, and parish priests to coordinate the project.
The ‘Start Again Project’ for the Leyte communities was originally the ‘Noche Buena Project’ conceptualized by the Focolare Youth for indigent families affected by previous typhoons and floods.
After ‘Yolanda’ struck Central Philippines in late 2013, the young Focolare members channeled their energy into the ‘Start Again Project’. The ‘Start Again Project’ continues, Vital said.
It is one of Focolare’s expressions of deep sympathy for the typhoon survivors in the Visayas, particularly Leyte, which suffered the worst of ‘Yolanda’. (Oliver Samson)