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PHILIPPINES: One Year after Typhoon Haiyan Salesian Missionaries Have Aided Close to 3,000 Families in Rebuilding Homes While Beginning Construction on 11 New Schools

(MissionNewswire) One year after Typhoon Haiyan (also known as Typhoon Yolanda) devastated portions of Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines, Salesian missionaries working in the region have successfully completed community rehabilitation and rebuilding projects allowing survivors to return to their normal lives.

The super typhoon which struck on Nov. 8, 2013, was one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded and the deadliest typhoon on record in the Philippines killing more than 6,200 people in that country alone. According to the United Nations, the super typhoon affected more than 13 million people overall. An estimated one million homes were destroyed and 4 million people were left homeless with close to 2.5 million of those displaced needing food assistance. More than 5 million of those affected were children, leaving 1.5 million children at risk of acute malnutrition, according to the UN World Food Program.

Salesian missionaries in the Philippines who have been working with vulnerable children and their families at Salesian schools, youth centers and community programs for many years, were positioned to be on the front lines of the relief efforts. Salesian buildings in Cebu were named Official Help Centers and students, teachers, staff and volunteers worked alongside missionaries to collect, prepare and pack relief goods.

In cooperation with the National Crisis Management Unit in the Philippines, 25,000 emergency kits were distributed in the days immediately following the storm. In addition, Salesian missionaries provided food, clothing, water and medical care to 40,000 families in Leyte, Cebu, Samar and Aklan. A year later, thousands of families are surviving with the help of volunteers and organizations linked to the Salesians.

“Because we have been working in the Philippines since 1950 and already have an established network in the affected areas, we are able to provide vital coordination and infrastructure support,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Our work did not stop in the immediate aftermath of the storm. Salesian relief efforts continue for those in need and reconstruction efforts are underway to rebuild communities.”

Initiated in the wake of the storm, the Don Bosco Adopt and Rebuild a Community Project (Don Bosco ARC) began replacing destroyed homes and buildings that were poorly constructed before the storm with ones that can withstand future weather events. To date, close to 150 homes have been completed. Ultimately, the Don Bosco ARC project will benefit 2,600 families on four separate islands.

Reconstruction of homes, schools and shelters has also continued with many projects close to completion. More than 2,700 families have received materials to repair roofs and walls and have been able to return to their homes. Salesian missionaries are also focusing their efforts on building shelters for the disaster prone country. Of the nearly 500 temporary shelters in East Samar, Aklan and on the island of Bantayan, 417 have already been completed and others are under construction. Salesian Missionaries have also focused their rebuilding efforts on schools with 11 new schools under construction, eight of which are in Leyte, two in Cebu and one on the island of Bantayan.

As many Filipinos lost their livelihoods in the wake of the storm, Salesian missionaries are also working on employment initiatives primarily in the farming, livestock management and manufacturing sectors designed to jump-start the local economy. By integrating research, technological advancement and vocational training in these areas, Salesian programs aim to create sustainable, long-term entrepreneurship and employment opportunities which, in turn, will provide typhoon victims and vulnerable youth with financial security and hope for a better future.

“Salesian missionaries have made great progress in the year since the typhoon but there is still much work to be done, particularly helping those whose livelihoods were affected find meaningful employment in order for them to support their families,” adds Fr. Hyde.

Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, launched a “Philippines Typhoon Emergency” fund in response to the need. To give to that fund, go to SalesianMissions.org/typhoon.



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