Village for ‘Yolanda’ survivors named after Pope Francis

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BANTAYAN, Cebu, April 2, 2014— A new settlement in Cebu for ‘Yolanda’ survivors currently under construction is named after Pope Francis and has come to symbolize fresh hope for many families.

Funded by Xavier School and the Educational Research and Development Assistance (ERDA) Group, the Pope Francis Gawad Kalinga (GK) Village in Ticad, Bantayan, Cebu had its groundbreaking rites on March 30.

Sweat equity

Named after Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope who is inspiring Catholics to “live the faith through concrete acts”, the GK Village will house typhoon survivors from different parts of Northern Cebu.

With GK Cebu facilitating the community organizing component of the Pope Francis GK Village, prospective recipients are screened to accommodate only those willing to provide “sweat equity”, which is based on the concept of bayanihan.

The community will also be organized through formation and livelihood programs. Ticad, which has an existing set of houses built by various donors, is set to become a bigger community and potentially, the biggest GK site in Cebu.

The village consists of 45 houses with each unit costing P150,000. Xavier School sponsored 30 houses, while the ERDA Group sponsored 15.

The groundbreaking ceremonies began with a mass celebrated by Xavier School president Fr. Ari Dy, SJ and Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, SJ, former president of Ateneo de Manila University and a core member of GK’s national board. Also present was Xavier School treasurer Edison Sian.

Frs. Dy and Nebres also blessed two houses built by the Singapore American School during their annual house build visit in February.

Jesuit fathers Ari Dy, Xavier School president and Bienvenido Nebres, former president of the Ateneo de Manila University bear the heat at the groundbreaking rites of the Pope Francis Gawad Kalinga (GK) Village in Bantayan, Cebu which will benefit survivors of typhoon 'Yolanda'. (Photo credit: Fr. Ari Dy, SJ)

ERDA-Xavier School tandem

Right after ‘Yolanda’ crippled most of Eastern Visayas, and parts of Cebu, Panay, and Palawan in November 2013, Xavier School launched a fund-raising relief drive that attracted the attention of both local and foreign philanthropists. Net proceeds of the 2014 Xavier School fair were also used for the project.

The ERDA Group funds came from long-time benefactors of the ERDA Foundation and ERDA Tech Vocational Secondary School who took it upon themselves to send funds to ERDA to help the typhoon survivors.

In June, Xavier School with the help of GK Ateneo de Manila will be organizing a group of students, alumni, and faculty/staff, to participate in the Bayani Challenge, a five-day program for volunteers to help build houses in Ticad.

Xavier School and the ERDA Group hope to maintain an ongoing relationship with the residents of Pope Francis GK village. Volunteers and new donors for this project are very welcome. For more details, please contact the Xavier School president’s office. (Raymond A. Sebastián)

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