Less than a year after super-typhoon Haiyan wreaked widespread destruction across the Philippines this past November, positive signs of progress have emerged from the rubble. Much of this progress can be credited to the hard work and determination of our Salesian missionaries -- who are leading reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts throughout this island nation.
Thanks to an established presence and extensive infrastructure in the country, Salesian missionaries were uniquely poised to respond to the immediate needs of victims in the wake of the storm. Today -- while continuing to provide humanitarian relief such as fortified rice and clean water to thousands who still require it -- Salesian programs have broadened to include projects that are assisting residents in achieving long-term stability and a brighter future.
One of these initiatives -- the Don Bosco ARC (Adopt and Rebuild a Community) Project -- has even earned kudos from the World Bank Group. Representatives from World Bank recently toured the Philippines in order to learn more about climate change challenges in the country.
“Upon arriving in Barangay Candahug, where the ARC Project is underway, World Bank confirmed that as of May 2014, no other permanent shelter reconstruction efforts have been launched on the island,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions. “Officials congratulated our missionaries on the ground for a job well done -- an honor they are now using to further propel their passion for their work, and for the Filipino people.”
The ARC project aims to replace destroyed homes and buildings that were poorly constructed before the storm, with ones that can withstand future weather events. To date, 50 homes are complete; 50 more are underway; and work contracts are in place for an additional 75 residential units. Ultimately, ARC will benefit 2,600 families on four separate islands.
In tandem with ARC, Salesian missionaries are leading “livelihood” initiatives designed to jump-start the local economy through the farming, livestock management and manufacturing sectors, among others. By integrating research, technological advancement and vocational training in these areas, Salesian programs aim to create sustainable, long-term entrepreneurship and employment opportunities. This, in turn, will provide typhoon victims and vulnerable youth with financial security, dignity, and hope for a better future.
As important, Father George Militante, SDB, Provincial of the Southern Philippines, observes that as a result of these relief and reconstruction efforts (made possible by the generosity of our many friends), Filipinos feel “that there are people who care, and that the world has gradually become a village, a home for all who share the same humanity.”
Much work remains to be done. Together with the support of our collaborators and friends, Salesian missionaries will remain focused on complete and sustainable post-typhoon recovery in the Philippines.
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