The CBCP-NASSA/Caritas Philippines, in collaboration with different diocese throughout the country, is building communities through Caritas Shelter Project.  The project believes that a necessary component in building Christian communities starts with building homes for the homeless and thereby provoking new hope and new beginnings.

NASSA chairman Bishop Broderick Pabillo and Josephine Ignacio of Caritas Philippines visited the Caritas Shelter Project in three dioceses, namely, Tagum, Tandag and Mati on June 19 to 21 for the awarding of shelters to the homeless.

Ten families were the first beneficiaries of Oplan Tabang: Balik Bahay Program in Purok 6, Babag, Monkayo, Compostela Valley province during a turn-over ceremony on June 19.

Prior to the handover ceremony, Bishop Pabillo and Tagum Bishop Wilfredo Manlapaz led the blessing of new houses and a concelebrated Mass with Fr. Jetson Estose, Fr. Allan Alindajaw and Oplan Tabang point person, Fr. Emerson Luego.

Oplan Tabang is a relief and rehabilitation initiative to answer the needs of the victims of Typhoon Pablo that ravaged eastern Mindanao lastDecember 4, 2012.

“We conducted monitoring and assessment of the affected areas on December 6 to 7 in coordination with the different parishes. When NASSA heard about what happened in our diocese, they reached out to our diocesan social action center to lend a hand and actually, the donations given by NASSA was the first to be utilized in our relief operations,” Luego said.

He added that the Diocese of Tagum alone has 100 shelter projects that received assistance from NASSA, which source out funding from Catholic agencies such as the Conferenza Episcopale Italiana (CEI) and Caritas Singapore, among others.

“The local government here has no permanent housing projects; they only have transitional or temporary. So far, throughout the Compostela Valley, the diocese and NASSA aim to build only one community. Not only a community but a Christian community,” Luego said.

He furthered that Bishop Manlapaz was so pleased not only by the construction of concrete houses but by the involvement of the people. It gives him strength to see typhoon victims helping each other.

“The people are easy to involve in the Bayaninan system—the children, the wife, the husband, the whole family. As the Basic Ecclesial Community we are teaching them to treasure what we have and to strengthen their moral and spiritual values. In fact, Catholicism here is amazingly increasing. Our housing project knows no boundaries, whether you are a Catholic or not,” Luego cited.

Meanwhile, in Sitio Tagbobo, Tagpupuran Lingid, Surigao Del Sur, 60 units were built.

“The Social Action of Cateel helped us in this project and the shelter units will be awarded on June 28. We are hoping this will have an extension,” said Diocese of Tandag Project Officer and also a victim of Typhoon Pablo, Albert Diez.

In Sitio Bag-idanan, Barangay Poblacion, Cateel, Davao Oriental some 25 families were also given new homes last June 21.

“This is the first awarded area in response of the Diocese of Mati to the victims of typhoon Pablo through the CBCP-NASSA funded by the Government of New Zealand, Caritas New Zealand and Caritas Internationalis. The Caritas Shelter Project in Davao Oriental has a total of 800 units,” said Diocese of Mati Social Action Coordinator, Cesaria B. Hugue.

Mindanao, the second largest island in the Philippines, was devastated by two consecutive typhoons—Sendong (Tropical Storm Washi) in December 2011 and the stronger Pablo (Typhoon Bopha) in December 2012 causing widespread destruction, unnumbered fatalities and leaving some 800,000 people homeless.

 “We are very thankful to our funding agencies, partners and to the individuals and institutions who helped us to make these things possible. Our next in line is the potential livelihood projects for our Caritas Shelter beneficiaries. So, accept your shelter given by God through our donors with a full responsibility. Don’t lose hope and keep your faith burning,” NASSA chairman Bishop Pabillo said in his talk. (Yen Ocampo/SocialActionNews)

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