FEBRUARY 2, 2016
The third CCST Haiyan delegation traveled to the Philippines in mid-January 2016. Msgr. Joe Kerrigan, CCST director, and Corabeth "Chinky" Reyes headed up the contingent.
The visit was timed to coincide with the first anniversary of Pope Francis' visit to Tacloban. At the papal Mass last year, a CRS staffer, Kristel Padasas, was killed by falling scaffolding at the conclusion of the Mass. CCST offered to build a staff house at the Mary Mediatrix Village, and to name it in her honor. On January 16, 2016, that house was blessed and dedicated in her name as "Kristel's House."
Mary Mediatrix Village is the brainchild of the Lipa Archdiocesan Social Action Commission (LASAC), and is led locally by Msgr. Jimmy Villanueva. Approximately 150 homes have now been built and occupied by families who formerly lived in the devastation zone of Typhoon Haiyan. In addition to the staff house, there is now a Multi-Purpose Center that is nearly complete, and facilities for baking, construction and carpentry. The 3.0 hectare land also holds possibilities for agriculture and aquaculture.
CCST Metuchen provided funding for the water system for the entire project, and is now assisting Catholic Relief Services with support for septic systems and hygiene.
As the Mary Mediatrix Village project concludes on a successful note, CCST now turns its attention to another, and more ambitious, resettlement project of CRS, the "Anibong Resettlement Project." CRS and the coastal community of Anibong in Tacloban City are working together to build safe, sustainable and resident-governed communities.
Anibong was informally settled by migrants after the construction of the San Juanico Bridge in the 1970s, and has been home to the poor and vulnerable ever since. There is an estimated 12,500 inhabitants today, with 95% below the poverty level (20,000 pesos/month). 80% of the residents, in fact, live with fewer than 10,000 pesos a month. About a half-dozen boats slammed into Anibong during Haiyan, intensifying the destruction from the storm alone, and the area was declared a "no-dwell zone" by the Filipino government ever since. Recovery has been slow, with residents unable to receive needed assistance.
A community organizing approach assists Anibong residents to meet their immediate needs, while work begins to construct a permanent settlement outside of the No Dwell Zone. 2,441 families have been canvassed by CRS, and the respondents have spoken most frequently about a safe environment, livelihood opportunities, access to education, the city resources and fishing. A majority of residents are willing to move nearby. Approximately 1,200 households will be accomodated in this new multi-year project. CRS is striving to organize residents to continue to self-identify needs and to self-manage the proposed resettlement area. CCST welcomes donations at this time.
Finally, the delegation concluded with a meeting in Manila with CRS Philippines country representative Joe Curry, at which CCST pledged a long-term commitment to the Philippines and CRS under the concept of a Philippines Response Team. As CRS determines its own response to the future disasters in the Philippines, CCST will offer its support to CRS on a case-by-case basis, along the lines of our collaboration since Typhoon Haiyan.
For complete coverage of CCST's response to Typhoon Haiyan, visit this page on our website.