Mar 20, 2014

Rebuilding Mayorga

In November 2013, we told the story of the devastation in Mayorga after Typhoon Haiyan hit. Mayorga is a town of about 16,000 people. Every single one of its people was affected- whether it was the loss of homes, jobs, livelihood or loved ones.

Care Channels, along with Operation Compassion (OC) and Please Pass the Bread (PPtB), worked together to bring relief to the people. Since the typhoon hit, medical missions and food were sent. To date, Dr Malyn Vilar of Care Channels and her team of doctors and nurses treated over 2,000 patients. The initial distribution of rice reached 5,000 families. Feeding the community now focused on reaching 500 children through their schools.

Rebuilding Mayorga to bring back normalcy to the lives of the people was now the focus.

Field workers worked with the people to determine families who were willing to start participating in rebuilding. Some held back in participating – still fearful, still not daring to venture into something new.

The first cluster of 10 homes in Barangay Union were completed with the cost of P15,000 (S$430) each.

The families used to live in the land owned by the barangay (community) chairman. After their homes were completely destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan, they were living in evacuation centres. Moving into new homes after the devastation was a start to a new beginning, a new life.

Funds were channeled to buy materials while the families provided the labour.

The families had the liberty of deciding on the configuration of the rooms in their new homes. Some built their kitchens outside.

Some created gardens. All 10 families shared a communal toilet.

Water pumps were repaired to provide the barangay with water.

Initially, costs were underestimated. Due to the lack of skilled workers, additional chainsaws had to be purchased because the people did not know how to use them and broke them. Furthermore, the cost of lumber from coconut trees had gone up. Coconut trees felled by the typhoon were targeted to be used as lumber for the houses. Waste not, want not, as they say. But the entrepreneurial spirit of owners of the land on which these trees were grown prevailed faster than they could grow the trees.

The families have also started growing vegetables in their gardens for food. The typhoon brought with it waves of salt water from the sea which have been absorbed into the soil. As the families wait for the rains to wash the salt away, they decided to work together to start their vegetable garden. However, continuous rain for two weeks in January ruined the young vegetable garden and replanting was required. The families are also interested in rearing chickens and pigs.

The second cluster of homes in Barangay Liberty did not cost as much because of the lessons learnt and due to a cheaper source of lumber sourced from outside Leyte. But still, skilled workers were needed. Zinc roofs were also used for these homes in Liberty.

To date, 20-30 of these transitional shelters have been built. Interestingly, although called transitional shelters, these houses are actually hardy and are in fact permanent homes for the families.

One inspiring person who contributed is Ricky. He is in charge of the construction of the transitional shelters and participates in the rehabilitation of the community. Ricky is not a resident of Mayorga. He is a survivor of the cyclone disaster in Quezon Province in 2004. He sees himself walking with the people of Mayorga in their most difficult times.

Apart from people like Ricky, the mayor and vice-mayor of Mayorga gave their support by ensuring security for the work to be done, offered food and their homes to missionaries. In a speech delivered at the start of the rebuilding, the Mayor had one message for all – that each one is be strong and have faith. And it is together with the multi-sectoral partnerships such as with Operation Compassion, Please Pass the Bread and Care Channels that the community will stand up again.

Care Channels has the funds to build 200 houses with the intention to build 500 houses. Twenty to thirty houses have already been built. Rebuilding work has taken a brief break to review costs and to arrange for funds to be allocated. Work will start again soon.

Restoring the lives of the people of Mayorga continues.

If you are interested in contributing to rebuilding Mayorga and to give the people hope of a normal life again, please donate by writing a cheque to “Care Channels International Ltd” and send to 3 Pasir Panjang Hill, Singapore 118827. Please write ‘Mayorga’ behind the cheque.

Story by Wong Kah Wei

Empowering (PH), Holistic (PH), Philippines, Relief Efforts