Pope Francis Village to rise in Cebu
Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - April 4, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A new settlement for the survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda that would be named after Pope Francis will soon rise in Cebu.

CBCPNews, the official news service provider of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), reported that the soon to open Pope Francis Gawad Kalinga (GK) Village would have 45 houses that were built for P150,000 each.

The housing project was funded by Xavier School and the Educational Research and Development Assistance (ERDA) Group.

The Pope Francis GK Village in Ticad, Bantayan, Cebu had its groundbreaking rites last March 30.

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

Xavier School sponsored 30 houses, while the ERDA Group sponsored 15.

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 would 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 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.

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

Right after Yolanda crippled most of Eastern Visayas and parts of Cebu, Panay island and Palawan in November 2013, Xavier School launched a fund-raising 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, would organize 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.

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