Community Rehabilitation Project at Barangay Magay, Tanauan, Leyte, Philippines
After the provinces of Leyte and Samar in the Philippines were ravaged by Typhoon Haijan “Yolanda” on November 8, 2013, a team from the Augustinian Sisters of Our Lady of Consolacion (ASOLC) together with their newly-elected Superior General, Sr. Niceta Vargas, OSA, conducted a relief operation and ocular visit to the region in December of 2013 for an initial assessment of the situation in view of adopting an area for rehabilitation. Since then, Relief missions were organized, dispatched and participated by the Augustinian families (ASOLC, Vicariate of the Orient, Augustinians of the Assumption, with financial assistance from the Agustinas Misioneras and other different local and foreign organizations).
In response to the signs and challenges of the times, seeing Christ in the untold sufferings of the people, as one family, the Augustinians in the Philippines pulled their human and material resources. They started to organize several batches of Sisters, priests and seminarians to deliver goods and services while accompanying the people in their suffering, hopes and aspirations. The series of visitation of the areas heavily ravaged by Typhoon Yolanda culminated in the adoption of Barangay Magay, Tanauan, Leyte, one of the hardest hit by Typhoon Yolanda. The choice was based from assessment and prayerful discernment of the Sisters and the ASOLC leadership.
Barangay Magay has a population of 166 families, with 600 individuals. Out of the 157 houses, only two remained standing while the other 155 houses were reduced to rubbles after the typhoon. Psychologically, people were severely traumatized, notwithstanding the unimaginable suffering experienced by the young and old after being left “homeless but not hopeless” with nothing to serve at table, nor source of livelihood and nowhere to go. This community belongs to the town of Tanauan, Leyte which is 16 kilometers south of the Provincial Capital of Tacloban City, and is about 582 km south-east of the Philippine capital of Manila. Tanauan is a 2nd class municipality, and is classified as partly urbanized.
Immediate intervention to help rebuild the community of Magay have been conducted with the unwavering support, cooperation and commitment of the Augustinians of the Assumption, the financial assistance of the Agustinas Misioneras and active participation of the Vicariate of the Orient. Human and Christian value formation, stress debriefing and listening, acupuncture (health programs), feeding and distribution of goods, relief operation, spiritual formation, daily Eucharistic celebration when there are Augustinian priests, psychological counseling, building Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC), and catechesis are continuously offered while attending to the urgent need for sustainable livelihood and housing programs. Last February 2014, 10 fisher folk families were awarded with 5 motorized boats (by team), and 6 families with each a solo boat. Likewise 16 brand-new pedicabs, and 17 repaired pedicabs were also given to 33 families.
At present, the construction of the Chapel and 15 houses has started with the guidance and management of Sr. Grace Dolino, OSA, the ASOLC Councilor on Structures and Temporalities and her construction workers. The Congregation made the house design, while the people themselves manufacture the hollow blocks. The project has been blessed with the support of partner agencies such as IOM, Samaritan First, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC), etc.
It is hoped that within a time frame of three to five years, the people will be empowered to stand on their own and continue the community development and the livelihood program (ongoing). Meanwhile, the Sisters are temporarily housed in the barangay hall at the heart of the Magay community. They will eventually transfer, hopefully by June 2014, as soon as the former one storey Chapel which is being rebuilt or constructed into two storey building, will be completed. The second floor of the Chapel shall serve as home for the sisters for the duration of the project.
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