Pfizer helps rebuild Leyte

(The Philippine Star) - December 15, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - One of the things that people take for granted is a roof over one’s head. This is what 49-year-old Silva Camero learned, along with thousands of other fellow countrymen who experienced the onslaught of typhoon Yolanda in November 2013.

Silva relates that as early as 7 p.m. (on the eve of that fateful day), she and her family had already evacuated to the community gym in Burauen, Leyte. The municipality is about two hours away from the provincial capital of Tacloban, which was one of the hardest hit by the typhoon.

“The next morning, we went back to our neighborhood and found that our house had been completely washed out,” she say. “Walang natira (Nothing was left).”

To survive, they constructed a makeshift shelter, making do with scraps of tin from the palengke or marketplace. This is where Camero and her family — which includes school-aged children as well as two grandchildren — lived after the storm, exposed to the harsh elements and poor sanitation.

Hope sprang when Camero was selected as one of the beneficairies of Habitat for Humanity Rebuild program, in partnership with Pfizer through its non-profit arm, the Pfizer Philippines Foundation Inc.

A resident of Poblacion District VI, Burauen, Leyte, along with Brgy. chairwoman Nenita Vigal, receives the initial batch of Rebuild homes from Pfizer corporate affairs director Gerrard Anthony Paez, Habitat for Humanity technical project manager engineer Nestor Degoma, Burauen Councilor engineer David Alcober, and Habitat for Humanity deputy chief operating officer for disaster response Dabs Liban.

Happiness and relief overcame the housewife, mother and grandmother who considers the new home a blessing. “Saan naman ako kukuha ng pampabahay? (Where else would I get the means to build a new house?)” she says.

Camero’s residence is just one of 30 new houses in Burauen, which Pfizer Philippines is funding and turning over to residents of the said community. Thirty other houses will be constructed in 2015 as part of Pfizer’s ongoing corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives in support of local disaster recovery and rehabilitation efforts.

The program gains added significance for Pfizer as the US-based pharmaceutical firm marks its 60th anniversary of doing business in the Philippines this year. Providing shelter for displaced families of typhoon Yolanda is its flagship CSR effort, which is in line with one of the brand’s global corporate values to improve the well-being and quality of life of its consumers.

“Shelter is one of the most essential human necessities, and good health begins in the home,” says Violi D. Remo, Pfizer Philippines country manager and PPFI chairman. “Being able to practice hygiene and proper sanitation in functional living facilities is primary in ensuring physical health and well-being.”

Moreover, well-being is largely mental and emotional. “The safety and security of having a place of one’s own contributes greatly to peace of mind, which also leads to physical well-being,” adds Remo.

The shelter project also enables Pfizer employees to interact with the community and contribute to a good cause through its employee volunteerism program.

Pfizer recently turned over the completed houses in Burauen. The 30 houses are targeted to be completed by year-end, a timely gift for the beneficiaries.

“We are thankful for the opportunity to work with Habitat for Humanity Philippines in providing essential shelter needs in Burauen,” says Remo. “More importantly, we have been united with the community members in rebuilding homes that were damaged by the typhoon. We look forward to building the next 30 homes.”

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