02/08/2008, 00.00
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Christians from various confessional backgrounds building homes together for the needy

by Santosh Digal
Catholics, Protestants, Seventh-day Adventists, members of the Philippines-based Iglesia ni Kristo (Church of Christ) and other Christian groups are building houses together for Palawan’s homeless. Working together “breaks down barriers.”

Manila (AsiaNews) – In a spirit of ecumenism, various Churches have joined together in the southern Filipino province of Palawan to build homes for people in need. Some secular NGOs made up of volunteers have also enrolled in the project. Under the theme of ‘Building on Faith with Families,’ Catholics, Protestants, Seventh-day Adventists, members of the Philippines-founded Iglesia ni Kristo (Church of Christ) as well as other Christian groups are poling their human resources for a common goal. Each work unit includes 15 volunteers who work as a crew for each home.

The idea is the brainchild of Zion Puerto Princesa Palawan Habitat for Humanity Inc., which is affiliated with United States-based Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit ecumenical Christian housing ministry.

The local government donated the land and several private donors provided support for house construction and water supply.

In terms of housing, the Palawan area, an archipelago of some 1,768 islands, is one of the worst places in the country. According to a government report, dwellings have mostly an iron or aluminium roofs with on average one or at best two rooms for five people.

Each Habitat house costs 75,000 pesos (US$ 1,840). They are sold to families at affordable, zero-interest, inflation-adjusted loans.

Since July last, 105 homes have been already built this way.

For Francis Tueco, a Catholic youth involved in the process, “the program has become an act of faith sharing while helping build homes for poor people.”

With volunteers working together to build the homes, people can better understand ecumenism. It helps break down barriers and bring people closer together, said Evelyn Aries, a Protestant.

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