Flicker of Hope

It has been already 10 months since the typhoon Sendong (Washi) hit Cagayan de Oro last December. It caused enormous damage to the city. Many people were killed (1259) and many are still missing (500). Many families lost their houses and all their possessions. Most of them (over 7000 families) are still hopeless and live in “temporary shelters,” on basketball courts, parish yards or in the compounds of the seminary and retreat houses.

The typhoon victims are patiently waiting for a land where they could relocate to and begin their normal life. The promise to help by Mayor comes very slowly. In fact, there are more discussions than actions. Also, the Social Action of the Diocese of Cagayan seems to work too slowly.

Hence, there is a new initiative of the Religious Orders in Cagayan. Six congregations of sisters and priests decided to help the affected people in their own way. They have agreed to make an all-out, combined effort, in order to build 550 houses for homeless families.

Last month almost 8 (eight) hectares of land were purchased for this project in Opol located in the suburbs of the city. Then, there was a “ground breaking” ceremony and the work began. At this time, the land is well prepared. Water supply and electrical connection have already been done. An architect, who volunteered to help in this project, is very positive about it and is planning to build 100 houses till the end of this year.

Each of the houses is meant for one family and will have a size of 28.8 sqm. One unit will cost ₱125,000 ($3000). The good news is that the international organization “Habitat for Humanity International” is willing to help in this project. They will subsidize more than 50% of the price of the new houses.

We are looking for other sponsors. Hopefully, in the middle of the next year, 550 families, victims of Sendong, will move to the new houses. The new village will have the name of the “Mother of Divine Mercy.” Beside houses there is also a plan to build a chapel and a basketball court. Time frame and success of this project depends much on the sponsors and benefactors.