By Leslie Ann Aquino
More than 30,000 houses have been constructed by the Catholic Church in the different provinces worst-hit by Typhoon Yolanda.
Father Edwin A. Gariguez, NASSA/Caritas Philippines’ executive secretary, said the shelter units speak of the dedication and commitment of the Catholic Church to better the lives and restore the dignity of the most vulnerable communities and families affected by the typhoon which the hit the country in 2013.
“We are very proud of this accomplishment, yet humbled by the experience,” he said in a statement.
“In 2013, we at NASSA/Caritas Philippines didn’t even taught that we’ll be capable of implementing what would be the Church’s most massive, largest-funded and most comprehensive humanitarian response,” added Gariguez.
The houses were constructed in the provinces of Leyte, Samar, Eastern Samar, Palawan, Cebu, Iloilo, Aklan, Capiz, Antique and other areas hit by Yolanda.
These include on-site construction and establishment of relocation sites in partnership with the local churches, government units, other state agencies, and private stakeholders.
The three-year recovery and rehabilitation program of the Philippine Church started officially in 2014 focusing mainly on shelter, livelihoods, water, sanitation and health (WASH), community organizing, community-managed disaster risk reduction (CMDRR), ecosystems recovery, and institutional capacity building.
“Caritas Internationalis confederation was really instrumental in ensuring not only that we have funds, but that we are accompanied by experts in the field of livelihoods, community organizing, CMDRR, institutional capacity building, and especially in the shelter sector. That is why we were able to accomplish so many things,” stated Fr. Gariguez.
“Each of the Caritas organization doing bilateral programs in the dioceses also ensured that we collaborate successfully thus maximizing all available resources, reaching more than 1.4 million Filipinos,” added the priest.
According to NASSA, the Catholic Church’s overall Caritas response reached more than P3.2 billion.
NASSA/Caritas Philippines is the humanitarian, development and advocacy arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. It serves as secretariat to the 85 diocesan social action centers in the country and represents the Philippines to the global confederation of Catholic charities – Caritas Internationalis.