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Haiti, Indonesia key persons share ‘calamity wisdom’

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TACLOBAN City, Nov. 17, 2014 – Is there something Filipinos can learn from the natural calamities that struck Haiti in 2010 and Banda Aceh in 20014? Two key persons in the rehabiliation efforts in both countries came to the country to share a bit of “calamity wisdom” that includes solidarity among disaster-prone nations and “going beyond rehabilitation.”

Former Haiti Prime Minister Claudette Werleigh, stressed the importance of job security for survivors immediately after a disaster.

The community in Leyte participate in a city-wide candle-lighting ceremony to remember those who perished in super typhoon Yolanda’s onslaught exactly one year ago. Nov. 8, 2014, Tacloban City, Leyte. (Photo: Roy Lagarde)

“In finding a living, they will be able to solve their problem, rent or build their own houses,” she said at a press conference, which kicked off a three-day Development and Peace Partners’ Conference on the Reconstruction and Recovery Efforts in Yolanda-Affected Areas jointly organized by the CBCP-NASSA Caritas Filipinas Foundation, Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, Freedom from Debt Coalition and Focus on the Global South.

Job security

She underscored likewise the need for survivors like families devastated after typhoon Yolanda to have concrete opportunities to improve their lot.

In Haiti, she remarked, the non government organization (NGO) Institute of Technology and Animation (ITECA) continually helped the survivors of the earthquake that hit Haiti in January 2010, killing about 316,000 individuals and rendering 1.5 million natives homeless.

Almost five years have lapsed since then, yet some Haitians continue to live in transitional shelters and tents, Werleigh noted.

According to Werleigh, ITECA provided shelter assistance to survivors on the condition that the awarded houses would not be sold.

“In selling their houses, they have money now but in some years this may not be enough,” she explained.

Dealing with corruption

Werleigh, who now works with ITECA, is slated to share more about her experience in reconstruction work in post-earthquake Haiti during the forum, along with Yuli Kusworo of Arsitek Komunitas Aceh who will share about post-tsunami Aceh, Indonesia.

Kusworo, meanwhile, emphasized the need for solidarity among nations, especially disaster-prone nations like the Indonesia, Haiti and the Philippines.

“For in learning from one another, we will be able find alternative solution to the problems that the people are facing after the disaster,” he said.

According to Kusworo, despite corruption also happening in the relief and rehabilitation activities in Indonesia and Haiti, this is kept to a minimum when the community is allowed to actively participate in the planning, implementation and mitigation phases of the entire program.

He favors the bottom-up approach in extending help to survivors, underscoring the need for the government leaders to “listen to the community.” (Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros/CBCPNews)


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