Since Typhoon Haiyan devastated communities in the Philippines last November, Mennonite Central Committee has been helping residents such as Virginia Pagatan restore what took only hours to destroy.
Pagatan, captain of a local government council in San Isidro in Leyte province, is grateful for how MCC and its partners have been laying the groundwork for typhoon response. She cried tears of joy when she spoke about a distribution of shelter kits — collections of basic home-building materials — in her neighborhood.
“Others have come and made promises, but today you have delivered what you promised,” Pagatan told Ann Campbell-Janz, an MCC staff member who traveled to the Philippines May 12-23 to monitor MCC-funded projects in the hard-hit provinces of Leyte and Biliran.
On May 21, community members and Pagatan’s volunteer shelter committee unloaded roofing sheets, lumber, plywood and nails from a truck. They carefully numbered 155 piles, one for each beneficiary in the community.
Pagatan joined a staff member of International Children’s Action Network, which was working with MCC partner Church World Service in implementing the MCC-supported distribution, to check names on the distribution list and help people find their pile of materials. Volunteers assisted those who weren’t able to get materials to their home location on their own.
MCC has slated $4.3 million for typhoon recovery, which includes providing materials to rebuild homes and supporting school reconstructions.
MCC’s shelter recovery response emphasizes establishing local volunteer shelter committees that check the beneficiary lists, encourage participation of local government units and hold trainings in typhoon-resistant construction.
By late July, 80 percent of the 5,179 shelter kits to be provided had been distributed in consultation with local volunteer shelter committees.
Campbell-Janz met with beneficiaries such as 32-year-old Jenny Laurente, who lost her home in Navel, Biliran, where she lived with her husband and four boys. Laurente shared how her husband and brother rebuilt the family home in seven days with a combination of the shelter kit provided by MCC and materials they purchased with their savings.
In addition to providing materials, the MCC-funded response is employing local laborers to build homes through cash-for-work and food-for-work programs and is training them in typhoon-resistant construction methods. It’s an effort to provide short-term earnings and construction skills for people whose livelihoods on coconut plantations or in the fishing industry were disrupted by the storm.
MCC has recently approved a second project — a partnership with the International Children’s Action Network that Campbell-Janz said will rebuild 13 schools.