August 18, 2015
About 550 Yolanda-affected families living in the danger zones of Tacloban will have their new and permanent houses in the Pope Francis Village which will rise in the city soon.
A ground breaking ceremony of the 12-hectare project site in Barangay 99, Diit in Tacloban City was held on Monday with a holy mass led by Palo Archbishop John Forrosuelo Du.
The project was named after Pope Francis to symbolize the values of mercy and compassion brought about by his recent visit to the city.
It is also deemed as the first in-city permanent relocation, considering that other permanent shelter projects in Tacloban are situated in far-flung areas in the northern barangays.
“In-city relocation will allow every member of the family to earn a decent income and children to play in the playground,” Denis Murphy of Urban Poor Associates said.
“This only proves that in-city housing is possible. We can provide permanent housing to the people of Tacloban without taking them away from their livelihood,” Fr. Edwin Gariguez of NASSA/Caritas Philippines added.
The Pope Francis Village is a people-driven model community that will not only provide permanent shelters but also restore the people’s sources of income through the provision of space for organic farming.
It also has a day care center, a school, a chapel, and a basketball court.
Members of the community were likewise involved in all aspects of the project, from the design of the houses to the identification of livelihood options and the disaster risk reduction planning.
The project is expected to be completed by September next year.
It is being implemented by the FRANCESCO (Pope Francis for Resilient and Co-Empowered Sustainable Communities), a consortium composed of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, NASSA/Caritas Philippines, Urban Poor Associates, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Palo, and the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.
It will benefit those living in the nine barangays located in the so-called danger zones in Tacloban, which were among those badly hit by the storm surge when Super Typhoon Yolanda hit the city in 2013.
It can be recalled that last June, about 3,000 families living in Tacloban’s danger zones were supposed to be transferred to temporary relocation shelters. But it was not carried out by the city government of Tacloban after the people protested the said proposal.
Jing Rey Henderson