Year after typhoon, MCC still rebuilding in Philippines

More than 4,000 homes rebuilt; classrooms to come

Nov 24, 2014 by and

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One year after Typhoon Haiyan destroyed the house of Dominga Arias in the Philippines, the 50-year-old widow and mother of three has a new home with a more spacious bedroom than before.

Dominga Arias, a 50-year-old widow and mother of three, sits in her new house, built with a kit provided by Mennonite Central Committee and the leftovers of her old house, which was destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan. — Kriz Cruzado/ MCC

Dominga Arias, a 50-year-old widow and mother of three, sits in her new house, built with a kit provided by Mennonite Central Committee and the leftovers of her old house, which was destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan. — Kriz Cruzado/ MCC

The simple wood structure with a tin roof was built by combining wood from her old house with a shelter kit of new wood, tin roofing, rebar and building supplies provided by Mennonite Central Committee through Church World Service and its partners.

The new building in Leyte Province was critical to Arias’ recovery because her income from washing other people’s clothes does not cover her expenses.

“I like my new house better because it’s stronger and the materials are of good quality,” Arias told Kriz Cruzado, who oversees MCC’s typhoon response. “But my favorite part of the house is our bedroom, because this is where we snuggle as a family.”

By the end of September, Arias was one of 5,076 families that had received new shelter kits through the $4.3 million in donations given to MCC after the Nov. 8, 2013, typhoon devastated large swaths of central Philippines. In addition, Filipinos trained in disaster-resistant construction were paid in cash and food to build 4,146 homes so far.

The donations also will support reconstruction of 72 classrooms in 12 schools where students are meeting in temporary spaces.

Peacebuilders Community Inc., a Philippines-based ministry of Mennonite Church Canada Witness, has provided training in emergency response and conflict resolution for pastors. Ecoweb, another local partner, completed construction of 40 homes, distributed construction materials to an additional 118 families and provided training in disaster risk reduction.

Many laborers, including carpenter Agustin Abilar of Leyte Province, lost their sources of income in the typhoon. Abilar’s carpentry tools and rice were washed away. However, through MCC’s cash-for-work program, he was able to purchase some carpentry tools to start working again.

“I also learned new techniques in building houses, especially ways of making them typhoon resistant,” he said. “Certainly, I could use this new knowledge whenever I get carpentry jobs.”

In a food-for-work project, laborers dug out a tilapia fish pond on Ronaldo Elcarte’s property in Leyte Province, creating a new way for him to earn money.

Recognizing the community’s larger need, Elcarte formed a cooperative with 15 people who helped to purchase fingerlings for the pond so that the project benefits all of them.

The food package that Cantina Velarde picked up as payment for her husband’s work on community projects included turkey canned by MCC’s canning volunteers and crew. MCC sent 40,320 cans of meat last January that are being used in the food-for-work program.

“It’s the first time that I received a food bag like this,” she said. “I couldn’t buy the contents of this bag because they are expensive. We don’t have enough income, so eating good food is almost a luxury. We will consume these foods slowly, so we could stretch it for weeks.”


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