TACLOBAN City, Leyte, Nov. 9, 2016 – The Catholic Church through its social action arm, the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA)/Caritas Philippines, recognized the heroism of Super Typhoon Yolanda survivors from the nine worst-hit provinces during the third Yolanda commemoration activities held Nov. 8 in this city.
“Yolanda taught us so many lessons about faith, hope, and charity. There are still many untold stories of heroism and resiliency of Yolanda survivors. And these people from different far-flung communities devastated by Yolanda are the unsung heroes, who helped the community to recover and build back better,” sid NASSA/Caritas Philippines Executive Secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez.
At least 27 survivors from the Yolanda-hit provinces of Leyte, Samar, Eastern Samar, Cebu, Palawan, Antique, Iloilo, Capiz, and Aklan were recognized for their heroism and contributions to the community, at the height of storm and during the course of the Cahtholic Church’s relief and rehabilitation program.
The anniversary activities included the “True Heroes of Yolanda” photo exhibit, featuring 27 Yolanda survivors, which was formally opened with a flash mob by 150 youth volunteers from the Sto. Niño Parish. The exhibit will run until Nov. 11 at Robinson’s Place, Tacloban.
Nine documentaries about the Yolanda heroes will also have special screenings during the 1st Caritas Film Festival at the said mall’s cinema. Palo Archbishop John Du and NASSA/Caritas Philippines national director Caceres Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona opened the commemoration activities with a Mass in Tanauan, Leyte. There was also a symbolic flower offering in memory of the typhoon’s victims in Tanauan, one of Leyte’s hardest hit areas.
The event also featured the presentation of new project proposals for Yolanda-affected communities in the nine provinces to representatives of different Caritas member countries, which are working with the Catholic Church in the Philippines in implementing various rehabilitation programs for Yolanda survivors in different parts of the country.
Overall Caritas response
NASSA/Caritas Philippines as the social action arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines is currently implementing the Catholic Church’s largest three-year rehabilitation program called REACHPhilippines in partnership with the dioceses of the nine provinces worst-hit by the typhoon.
“We really make sure that transparent and honest spending is being practised in all levels through regular financial monitoring, evaluation, and audit from international auditing companies,” explained Gariguez.
To date, the overall Caritas response in the country, including NASSA/Caritas Philippines and the Caritas Internationalis member prganizations, contributed more than Php 4.6 billion and served over 1.8 million people.
These interventions cover relief up to the recovery phase such as the provision of disaster-resilient shelters, water and sanitation facilities, livelihood assistance, and other facilities such as schools and evacuation centers. There are also hygiene promotion, community-managed disaster risk reduction trainings, community-organizing and ecosystem rehabilitation services.
Currently, there are 11 Caritas Internationalis member organizations helping typhoon Yolanda survivors in the country. These are:
- 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; and
- CHARIS Singapore
Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican-based umbrella organization of 165 Catholic charities worldwide, which includes NASSA/Caritas Philippines, is currently headed by Cardinal Luis Antonio, its first Asian president. (NASSA / Caritas Philippines / CBCPNews)