Hundreds of families that lost their houses to Typhoon Haiyan are receiving new homes, thanks to Islamic Relief’s latest shelter project in the Philippines.

More than 578,000 family homes were destroyed when a powerful storm swept across the Philippines in late 2013. Islamic Relief responded swiftly to the disaster, distributing life-saving emergency aid including food, tents, and shelter repair kits to families affected by Typhoon Haiyan, which is known locally as Yolanda. In the months that followed, we remained on the ground to deliver early recovery projects, including shelters for families that had lost their homes.

Our latest shelter project, which began last summer with funding from ShelterBox, is providing hundreds of families in Northern Cebu with disaster-resilient shelters. Lourdes Mariñas, 42, is among those that have already moved into their new home.

Local people salvage belongings from the ruins of their houses after Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city, the Philippines.

Local people salvage belongings from the ruins of their houses after Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city, the Philippines.

“After Typhoon Yolanda, life became harder,” said Lourdes, who now lives with her family in Barangay Mancilang, Madridejos. “We had to rebuild our lives from almost nothing. The only things I was able to keep safe were my family and our legal documents like the marriage contract and identification papers.

“The rest were gone, and so was our home. I went to our barangay (village area) hall hoping I could get a tent so that my children will have somewhere to sleep. Unfortunately, I was not able to get one.

“My husband told me that we can just make a house out of the scraps [of materials] left by Yolanda. And we started rebuilding. We used anything we could find, and soon our payag (small hut) was finished. It was not a good one, but at least we had a place to stay. I was grateful when Islamic Relief came to visit and told me that my family will receive a shelter from ShelterBox.”

Mobilising the community

The project drew on the Filipino concept of bayanihan which encourages people to work together to achieve more than they might on their own. With technical support  from Islamic Relief, the construction programme provided over 10,500 days of work for local skilled and unskilled workers – helping to boost incomes in an economy still shattered by the disaster, and the more recent devastation wreaked by Typhoon Hagupit just months ago.

“The first time I set foot in the house, it felt different. I was happy, but it felt different because I know we did not build it ourselves. But I told myself to think of it as something my family built.

“Though we are still struggling day to day, being given a house like this is a reminder that the Lord is good and that he will help us somehow.”

When the project completes this summer, 240 new homes will have been constructed, benefitting around 1,200 people in the municipalities of Bantayan, Madredijos and Santa Fe.

Islamic Relief is the lead organisation for shelter in Northern Cebu. A separate Islamic Relief Philippines shelter project, funded by the UK Disasters Emergency Committee, has benefitted hundreds of families in Bantayan and Santa Fe.