The local elementary school in the community of Diit is a beehive of activity these days. Diit is the community near the city of Tacloban, where Development and Peace and several of its partners are working together to build a resettlement site called the Pope Francis Village that will provide a new beginning for 550 families affected by Typhoon Haiyan.
Development and Peace understands the importance of strong communities. When communities are united, cohesive and organized, they have to power to improve their living conditions and to be more resilient in the face of natural disasters.
It is hard to imagine that a hilly piece of land on the outskirts of the seaside city of Tacloban in the Philippines will soon be transformed into a bustling village with a population of about 3,000 people. But this is exactly what will take place over the next few months as construction of the Pope Francis Village begins.
Mr. Sopriano Barsana, a retired policeman on the island of Samar in the Philippines, stands in front of his house – or what used to be his house. All that remains is one standing beam and a concrete floor littered with pieces of rusted tin, chunks of cement bricks in various stages of disintegration and brambles of metal wire.
The tiny community of Baranguay 86 in the city of Tacloban is barely visible. Hidden behind an overgrowth of bush, a small muddy path leads to a cluster of dwellings pieced together like a patchwork quilt. The community, like most in the city of Tacloban, was severely hit by Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda). As houses were flattened within seconds by the ferocity of the storm, those who had not taken shelter in evacuation centres clung to coconut trees, praying to not be swept away by the three metre tidal waves and 300 km winds.
After a long flight from Canada, our Development and Peace delegation arrived in Manila around midnight, Saturday, August 15, 2014. We were tired but excited to begin our visit with our partners in the Philippines, particularly those responding to Typhoon Haiyan. It was such a pleasure to meet the other members of the delegation that I would be travelling with over the next 10 days. I was so impressed with the commitment of everyone in the group, all giving of their time to share in this visit.
The fierceness of Typhoon Haiyan can be easily seen from the road that winds along the coast of Eastern Samar (Philippines). Every few hundred metres, out of the billowing coconut trees, another town of ramshackle houses appears, the tarps that serve as roofs flapping in the wind. With so much devastation around, it is easy to lose sight of what is beyond the palm trees.
Arthur Peters, Executive Director, ShareLife Toronto
Arthur Peters is the Executive Director of ShareLife of the Archdiocese of Toronto. He is part of a delegation visiting Development and Peace projects in response to Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in the Philippines.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve thought alot about the people who were on the Malaysian airliner that was shot down last month. The passengers were likely eating a meal, watching a movie, or speaking with one another, and in an instant it was all over.
It’s been nine months since Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda) barrelled through the Philippines, yet evidence of its gale force winds and crushing waves are still very visible all around the city of Tacloban, one of the worst-hit areas. Although debris has been cleared from the roads, at times it feels as if it has simply been pushed to the side. Gnarled metal reaches out towards the sky, surrounded by collapsed walls. Nearly every structure has some part of it that is bent, shattered, twisted or simply missing.