Manila (AsiaNews/Cbcp) - On July 29 132 houses will be the blessed and turned over to survivors of super typhoon “Yolanda” (“Haiyan”) in Ajuy, in the province of Iloilo, announced the Jaro Archdiocesan Action Center (JASAC). The official turn over ceremonies on July 29 will start at 8 a.m. with a Eucharistic celebration to be presided over by Jaro Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo. The housing project called “Caritas Village” consists of 66 duplex houses built on 1.6 hectares of land in Barangay Malayu-an, Ajuy.
Aside from the provisions of shelter, a road network, a water system, children’s playground, a multi-purpose building, and a basketball court, the housing project offers a package of services that includes livelihood programs and ecosystems. JASAC director Msgr. Meliton Oso, said the project was made possible through the sponsorship of Caritas Austria through Caritas Internationalis, NASSA/Caritas, Philippines, and the Archdiocese of Jaro, through the Jaro Archdiocesan Social Action Center.
The direct recipients of the houses, considered “project-partners” for their active collaboration in the undertaking, will be 132 families whose houses had been totally damaged by typhoon Yolanda and were not allowed by the lot owners to rebuild their houses or whose houses were within 40 meters of a “no-build zone” and have agreed to be relocated, Oso explained.
Explaining the significance of “Caritas Village”, the JASAC director said: “One has to understand that after ‘Yolanda’ these people lost not only their homes but also their means of livelihood.”
“It is important to help families regain their livelihood and make their communities function again.” “We cannot allow these people to be reduced to mendicancy,” he stressed. Overall, the Filipino Church has already committed about US$ 11 million in rehabilitation and assistance projects in favour of the more than two million people affected by the typhoon.
Yolanda (aka Haiyan) hit the Visayas Islands on 8 November 2013. About 11 million people were affected in 574 towns and cities. The price tag for getting back to normal was estimated to be around US$ 8 billion. The final death toll was estimated at more than 5,000 with at least 1,700 people still missing. Initial figures had put the number of the dead at above 10,000; however, Filipino President Aquino tried to downplay that figure by saying that it was the result of an emotional reaction. In his view, the death toll was no higher than 2,500.
The country's size, its fragmentation and the difficulty of reaching some areas have seriously hampered operations. Nevertheless, after the tragedy, the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) raised fund to help survivors. During his visit to the country, Pope Francis visited typhoon Yolanda survivors on 17 January.