5,000 roofs? Done

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014


A PRIVATE sector-led effort to put roofs over 5,000 houses damaged by typhoon Yolanda in northern Cebu has met its target, with 477 roofs to spare.

Gawad Kalinga, The Islands Group and LH Foundation, Inc. acknowledged yesterday the donors who helped them raise P18.25 million in less than two months, enough to put roofs over 5,477 houses, in their Roof for Relief program.

But while delivering a last batch of roofing materials over the weekend, Toby Florendo, head of partnerships for Gawad Kalinga in Cebu, said he realized the need “to continue the spirit of volunteerism.”

Florendo narrated how he and a team of volunteers endured a ferry ride from Bantayan Island that took more than two hours, instead of the usual 40 minutes.

“It was raining hard, it was wet, it was cold,” Florendo recalled.

“We realized, going home in those conditions, that we’re not yet done. These conditions were temporary for us…But more than 70,000 families are going through this, getting wet, getting cold, getting sick, and they will go through this tomorrow and maybe for the next few months.”

Roof for Relief received donations and pledges from 269 individuals and organizations, Florendo said in a press conference yesterday. They delivered roofing materials to 5,020 households in 11 barangays, all in northern Cebu.

Compassion

Jonathan Jay Aldeguer, president and chief executive officer of The Islands Group, recalled that the program grew from the relief efforts he and Edmun Liu, president of LH Foundation, Inc., organized in response to the earthquake that struck Bohol and Cebu last Oct. 15.

They decided to work with Gawad Kalinga, whose work in #BangonSugBohol Aldeguer described as “very organized” and anchored on “a keen understanding of and compassion for the community.”

After Yolanda struck last Nov. 8, Aldeguer recalled, they anticipated that while so many rushed to provide food, water and other relief goods, “the housing aspect of the crisis may have been overlooked.”

“Building permanent homes seemed far-fetched but providing roofs was doable,” he added.

Florendo said they implemented Roof for Relief using the “walang iwanan” principle of Gawad Kalinga, a campaign developed to promote “bayanihan” or the willingness to help others in one’s community. (Loosely translated, “walang iwanan” means “no one gets left behind.”)

He said they picked barangays where more than 80 percent of the population would not be able to afford rebuilding their homes and where at least 80 percent of the population was affected.

11 barangays

Beneficiaries are supposed to rebuild their roofs with the help of their neighbors, local government and Gawad Kalinga volunteers.

The beneficiaries received eight painted and ISO-quality GI sheets and three kilos of umbrella nails each.

The 11 barangays are Dakit in Sogod with 288 household beneficiaries; Managase, Tabogon (295); Marangog, Bogo City (505); Batad, San Remigio (395); Tigbawan, Tabuelan (538); Curva, Medellin (480); Bakhawan, Daanbantayan (603); Bongdo-Proper, Borbon (390); Tamiao, Bantayan (463); Pooc, Sta. Fe (612); Bunakan, Madridejos (451).

Florendo said the excess roofing materials, enough for 457 homes, will be sent to a barangay in Camotes early next week. The town initially did not make it to the list, given the program’s 80-80 criteria.

He noted that one important outcome of the project was that it changed the mindsets of the beneficiaries and their communities. “We were able to take them out of a victim’s mindset,” said Florendo.

After Yolanda struck the Visayas last Nov. 8, it left at least one million houses that had to be repaired or replaced. The national disaster council, in its report yesterday, listed 6,190 dead, with 1,785 missing and over 28,000 injured. Yolanda displaced around four million persons nationwide.

Pool resources

In northern Cebu alone, an estimated 93,217 households were affected, based on reports collated in December by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc.

LH Foundation’s Liu said the success of the project resulted from the concerted efforts of various companies and volunteers. He hoped the project would inspire other organizations to start their own rebuilding campaigns.

He advised organizations, though, to look for the right partners, and commended all the volunteers who “kept on doing what they needed to do.”

Florendo also advised such organizations to “do reconnaissance work” first in the community they plan to help and to pool resources with other groups, if necessary, so that the entire community can be assisted.

Liu said Roof for Relief created many challenges, among them dealing with “a handicapped logistical system in the busiest season of the year”, but also led to “one of the most fulfilling moments” of his life, so far.

“The past three months have been the worst for many of our brethren,” Liu said.

“But the call to greatness resounded loudly and clearly across our many islands…and so many of you have responded.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 14, 2014.

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