A day of Celebration, Partnership & Inspiration
“I wanted my kids to have a home, a roof over their heads. I wanted them to have something for their future… now we have a home on our own land.”
– Helen Tagalog, Sabang Bao, Ormoc City, Philippines.
I had the fortunate opportunity to meet the incredibly strong Nanay Helen, representative of an E-CARE Partner Family and a member of Sabang Boa Housing Association this past month when I attended the Episcopal Church in the Philippines’ Disaster Response Partnership Celebration in Sabang Bao.
Recalling two years ago, in early November 2013, the largest typhoon to ever make landfall in the Philippines hit Leyte, leaving heart-breaking destruction. Despite the absence of church presence across the heavily devastated areas, the ECP through its social development foundation E-CARE, and with its partner churches and partner communities in the Philippines and around the world, mobilized relief.
With an eye to recovery and long-term rehabilitation, in early 2014 relief distributions gave way to livelihood and permanent housing interventions, through E-CARE’s introduction of their asset-based revolving Receivers to Givers (R2G) fund in the disaster-affected communities.
Through R2G funds paid back by E-CARE’s Partner Associations across the Philippines, community members saw the pathway to break free from a dependence on outside aid. Organized into locally-recognized associations, community members accessed livelihood funds to restart their farming and small business activities. “The [R2G] funds gave me new hope,” said Elsie, Helen’s neighbor and also a Sabang Bao Association member.
Sabang Bao Association applied for and received R2G funds to disburse into smaller livelihood grants to its members. Elsie received P5,000 (approx. US$105) to start a “sari-sari” store – – a small, home-based mixed goods shop that serves the neighborhood. In the spirit of R2G, Elsie has already given her P5,000 back to her association, who in turn will give back to E-CARE the entire fund in support of the next community.
Also in 2014, at a time when many other organizations were investing in temporary shelters, E-CARE with Episcopal Relief & Development’s support and their R2G philosophy, began permanent home reconstruction. Five community associations throughout the region are working with E-CARE in home construction, each taking the lead in the project by not only engaging in the construction work (each family 2 days per week) but also in giving back to R2G funds 14% of the construction costs (i.e., P20,000 equivalent to US$425).
Nanay Helen, as one of 80 members of Sabang Bao Housing Association, is a shining example of success. She beams with pride – – pride in her participation in the project, in the contribution she has made to the hard (hard) work of construction and material transport, and in the ownership she has obtained of both a house and her own land. In Sabang Bao association members lacked their own land for rebuilding. As such, P280,000 (US$5,960) in R2G funds supported the purchase of one hectare that was divided into 80 lots. As a demonstration of their belief in both the R2G philosophy and in themselves, association members including Nanay Helen have already given this total amount back to the R2G fund.
On December 3rd representatives from E-CARE’s various housing and livelihood associations gathered together in Sabang Bao to celebrate with ECP’s Prime Bishop The Most Rev. Abibico, ECP’s seven diocesan bishops, their wives, E-CARE staff, and international partners such as Episcopal Relief & Development.
It was a fantastic day filled with celebration, partnership, and inspiration.
Celebration of the fruits of community members’ labor – – celebration for all the clearing and cleaning done, all the sand mixed, the 40 kg sacs of cement carried in the noon-day sun, the bricks pressed, the skills shared and learned, and the houses constructed together in partnership.
In partnership with each other, through their shared work process locally coined “pintakasi” and in partnership with E-CARE, ECP and ECP communities across the Philippines.
I remain grateful to have been in attendance that day as a representative of Episcopal Relief & Development, in partnership with ECP and ECARE, and thus by extension enveloped in this wonderful partnership.
And to this day I remain inspired. Inspired by Nanay Helen, Nanay Elsie and all those I met. Inspired by their stories of resilience. Inspired by their strength and determination. Inspired by their “back-breaking” work. And inspired by the lesson that they teach: No dream is too big when you believe in yourself and your abilities, and when you believe in what can be accomplished together.
For more about E-CARE’s disaster response work following Typhoon Haiyan and the Sabang Bao celebration, see Floyd Lawlet’s story on E-CARE’s site: http://episcopal-care.org/2015/12/15/faith-resiliency-and-the-spirit-of-unity-sabang-bao-a-gospel-reincarnation-story/
For more pictures of ECP leadership and Sabang Bao community members at the December 3rd celebration see Anglican Relief for Typhoon Yolanda Survivors FB page: https://www.facebook.com/Anglican-Relief-for-Typhoon-Yolanda-Survivors-360331897435421/?fref=ts
Tammi Mott is the Director of Institutional Strengthening at Episcopal Relief & Development.
Images: Top – Nanay Elsie (left) with her husband Ruben (center) in front of their temporary home and Elsie’s sari-sari store; Middle 1 – A view of the new 2-family homes when entering Sabang Bao community; Middle 2 – Nanay Helen in doorway of her new home; Middle 3 – Bishop blessing one of the new homes in Sabang Bao