Caritas Switzerland turns over homes to Yolanda survivors
May B. Miasco (The Freeman) - March 1, 2017 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Caritas Switzerland formally turned over yesterday its housing project in five barangays of Madridejos town in Bantayan Island, over three years after super typhoon Yolanda devastated the Visayas on November 8, 2013.

Presciosa Derro, Caritas Switzerland social housing project manager, said the project was unique because the owners themselves underwent training so they could build the houses themselves.

She said the project, which they started in 2015, or two years after Yolanda struck, benefited 593 households in barangays Tugas, San Agustin, Kaongkod, Pili, and Kangwayan.

She said they chose the barangays where other non-government organizations had not helped yet, especially those Yolanda survivors who remained in temporary and unsafe shelters.

Derro said the project was based on a conditional cash transfer approach, where beneficiaries receive the funds necessary for the purchase of construction materials and salary of workers. 

This was made by grouping the beneficiaries into clusters of seven to 10 members, who support each other like negotiating for the best prices for the construction materials, with a Caritas Switzerland technical team monitoring each step they made.

The beneficiaries also received additional support because they were made to undergo specialized trainings including safe construction techniques, finance management, and maintenance.

Vice Mayor Salvador dela Fuente, who was mayor when Yolanda damaged or destroyed “90 percent” or nearly 8,000 of all homes in the town, said the affected residents could not immediately proceed in rebuilding their homes even when national government funds were available.

This was because of a pending case, where the court had put on hold the issuance of the project’s Environmental Compliance Certificate, which is one of the requirements.

Dela Fuente said that while construction of government-funded housing is still underway, however, Caritas-initiated projects in the town has already been completed, accounting for around 20 percent of NGO-built houses.

Crisanta Poquita, a mother of nine from San Agustin, thanked Caritas Switzerland for the new home, which was far better than the makeshift tent they used to live in.

She said she and her husband had to properly budget the funds so they could rebuild their house, especially that they already have children attending elementary school.

Thankful for being selected as one of the beneficiaries, she and her husband, who is a construction worker, vowed that they would take care of and maintain their house.

They even made some personal touches of their house and maintained a garden full of colorful flowers outside it.

Derro said family owners were allowed to make their own decorations as long as they follow the standard architectural design. (FREEMAN)

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