An update from Grant Iverson, a local Kamloops resident and past Developing World Connections participant. Grant has recently finished a four month stay in the Philippines assisting with Typhoon Haiyan relief and rebuilding efforts in northern Cebu province with our Host Partner, Rise Above Foundation Cebu.
I am happy to report though that the initial project is all but complete. We have managed to build 29 of the 30 homes that we had budget for and add 15 extensions to Mike’s homes. Including Mike’s homes that brings the total to 44. The reason the last home has not been completed is that while we delivered the materials, unfortunately the father passed away before we could start building the new home. Now that the funeral is over and some time has passed for grieving, we have started building the home for the mother and her 2 boys.
|Emilino and Galerma's house with make-shift roofing and walls.|
|Emilino passed away on February 14th. Here is with his wife Galerma.|
Life goes on in Tabogon: schools, while not rebuilt, are holding classes; churches, many without roofs, are still having services; small businesses, in damaged premises, are doing their best to make a living. People die and babies are born. Yolanda (Haiyan) tried to break these people but she didn’t succeed. Never have a met people more resilient than the people of this area.
In the past few days I visited most of the 30 families that we built homes for to say goodbye for now and let them know they will be forever in my thoughts and in my heart. The hardest one of all was saying goodbye to Sheila-Mae. She asked me to please don’t cry because I am leaving, but to come back and see her when I return. She will be first on my list to visit when I get back.
|Sheila-Mae in her new home.|
There is still a great need here in Tabogon, from rebuilding homes & feeding the hungry to providing them with a livelihood so they can move forward on their own which includes building banghas for the fisherman. We are looking at a variety of other livelihood programs and hope to have some up and running shortly. These people are proud people who want to provide for themselves and hopefully with a bit of assistance, they will be able to do just that.
There have been many rewarding moments on this trip but one of my fondest happens on my daily treks to the local barangays. I am always met with warm hellos and big smiles. In each place I have a small group of children (sometimes as many as 40) following me around as I check on the progress of the homes we were rebuilding. It is truly overwhelming to be so far away from home and yet feel right at home.
|Some of the local children.|
It is hard to belief that I am on my way home now. What seemed to be such a long time when I got here, passed way too quickly. It is with a heavy heart that I leave the people of Tabogon knowing that so many families still need help.
I plan to return in mid April this year to get an update on the home building and visit the many friends I have made in the area. Hopefully we will be able to build a few more homes while I am away and provide other much needed assistance to the families most in need.
I have many pictures, videos and stories that I can’t wait to share with my family and friends in Canada. The stories include how a simple spider could put a determined man into hospital.
Goodbye to the Philippines for now, but I will return.
Take care to all.
Past DWC Volunteer