Tacloban City—The Catholic Church and other donors turned over new housing units to the 263 families displaced by the 2013 Supertyphoon Yolanda in Tacloban City on February 10.
“We’re proud of these housing units because we also helped during construction. From planning to the buying of housing materials and building the houses, we were part of it,” said housing recipient Yolanda Sembrero.
“These houses are not only durable but also standard in terms of size,” she added.
The 566 housing units at Pope Francis Village have an up and down floor area of 40 square meters with at least three housing models.
Each unit costs P300,000, totaling P169.8 million.
Philip Lumbre, president of the Pope Francis Village Home Owners’ Association, thanked the local, national, and international donors of the housing units.
“Compared to other relocation sites which are very far, the Pope Francis Village is just within the distance from our source of livelihood. We will only spend roughly P18.00 for our fare if we go fishing,” he said.
In other relocation sites, storm survivors need to spend around P54.00 in order to fish and return to their families.
Joli Torella of Urban Poor Associates said that they are proud of their accomplishment at the Pope Francis Village, calling the housing project as the “’model” for Yolanda survivors.
“We followed the participatory-driven approach in its planning and construction. The community-driven approach is quite a challenge, but important in doing rehabilitation works,” Torella said.
The Development and Peace/Caritas Canada had launched a 47-minute documentary entitled “After the Storm: Building the Pope Francis Village” which chronicled the empowered Yolanda survivors in building their new community.
Canadian delegation headed by Bishop Noel Simard along with church and government officials graced the turnover activity.
Also joining the ceremony were Evelyne Beaudoin, president of the Development and Peace National Council; Sister Georgette Gregory of the Sisters of Saint Joseph; Kelly Di Domenico, communications director of Development and Peace; Jess Agustin, Development and Peace Philippines programme officer Jess Agustin; Arthur Neame and Lylah Puerto, the Development and Peace in-country support staff; Ghislain Josef Morin, member of the Development and Peace National Council; Danny Carranza, lead person for advocacy ad campaign of Community of Yolanda Survivors and Partners (CYSP); Palo Archbishop John Du; Tacloban City Vice Mayor Jerry Yaokasin; and former Department of Social Welfare and Development Corazon “Dinky” Soliman, among other guests.
The housing project is constructed through the consortium composed of the Development and Peace/Caritas Canada, National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA)/Caritas Philippines, Redemptorist Congregation, Urban Poor Associates, Archdiocese of Palo, and some line government agencies.
The post-Yolanda reconstruction effort is supported by Pope Francis for Resilient and Co-Empowered Sustainable Communities (Francesco) which named the permanent resettlement site Pope Francis Village in honor of the pontiff’s solidarity visit in Tacloban City in January 2015.
Earlier, Agustin discussed how the “critical challenges” during Yolanda brought “links and creative tension” among various aid organizations.
Based on their experience, Agustin reflected on how Yolanda resulted to “staggering destruction” and “logistic nightmare,” while at the same time became a direct link to climate change and demands for climate justice.
Fr. Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of NASSA/Caritas Philippines, hoped that the Church and the government will continue to work together to achieve a common goal based on the success of the Pope Francis Village.
Aside from livelihood and sanitation support, the Catholic Church built 33, 253 Yolanda housing units from all Caritas response amounting to more than P3.2 billion, benefitting 1.4 million Yolanda survivors.
The construction of 33, 253 housing units per Caritas members includes NASSA/Caritas Philippines (7,373), Catholic Relief Service (20,000), Development and Peace/Caritas Canada (1,550), Caritas Switzerland (1,080), Caritas Austria (2,000), Caritas Germany (250), Caritas Belgium (300), Caritas Italiana (500), and Cordaid (200).