By Restituto A. Cayubit and Nestor L. Abrematea
Tacloban City – The Catholic Church closed its three-year Yolanda rehabilitation program with a symbolic visit by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle to the survivors of super-typhoon Yolanda in Basey, Samar, last June 1.
April Ann Abello-Bulanadi, communications specialist of National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA)/Caritas Philippines based in Manila, said Tagle, who is also president of Caritas Internationalis, celebrated mass at the St. Michael de Archangel Parish in Basey.
He was joined by NASSA/Caritas Philippines National Director Caceres Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona, Palo Archbishop John Du, and the priests of the nine dioceses engaged in the Church’s Yolanda response.
Bulanadi said Tagle also had a meeting with representatives of Yolanda-affected communities in Samar, Leyte and Eastern Samar. The cardinal cited the importance of resiliency and sustainability in preparation for future calamities, which is among the advocacies of Caritas.
Tagle also announced that Caritas Internationalis has appointed Caritas Asia, which includes NASSA/Caritas Philippines, as the global lead in disaster response and reduction following the success of the Yolanda response.
“So far, in all areas, Caritas Internationalis considers their experience of the Haiyan (Yolanda) response in the Philippines as the best amid the difficulties during the response,” he said.
Yolanda survivors from 18 communities in the towns of Basey, Marabut and Sta. Rita in Samar also showcased their organic products and handicrafts under the livelihood projects of Caritas.
The cardinal also visited livelihood projects in Guirang in Basey. Among them are mat weaving, which the community is known for in the province, and agricultural farms and poultry production.
He also checked the Caritas relocation site for Yolanda survivors, as well as its solid waste management project in Bacubac and Rawis both in Basey.
The cardinal also visited the Pope Francis Village, an in-city housing relocation project for 600 Yolanda families living in danger zones in Tacloban. It is a people-driven model community that will not only provide permanent shelter but also restore the people’s sources of income through the provision of space for organic farming.
It will also have a day care center, a school, a chapel, and a basketball court, Bulanadi said.
Tagle thanked the Caritas partners who worked and supported the Church’s three-year Yolanda rehabilitation program.
There was a discussion on the plans of NASSA/Caritas Philippines together with the dioceses and international Caritas partners linking humanitarian response and development.
The plans include the official launch of a new program called “#SEARCHDev,” which aims to sustain the initiatives and best practices in Yolanda areas and replicate them to other disaster-prone provinces.
So far, the Catholic Church, through NASSA/Caritas Philippines and other Caritas Internationalis member organizations, have helped 1.8 million people affected by Yolanda with funds amounting to more than R3.2 billion.
Tagle heads Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican-based umbrella organization of 165 Catholic charities worldwide He is its first Asian president.
NASSA/Caritas Philippines is the development, advocacy, and humanitarian arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in the Philippines that is working with the social action centers of the 85 dioceses across the country.
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