Project Leyte – 83C Progressive Core Homes
When Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) made landfall, 1.1 houses were partially damaged or destroyed. Whilst the families living in the ‘no build’ zones were considered for relocation by the city and are slowly being moved to transitional shelters or bunk houses, those living outside the ‘no build zone’ didn’t have this option. They have very little in the way of finances, have likely lost out on much of their livelihood, and don’t have enough money, manpower, or even the willpower to rebuild for themselves.
After recognising this need and having the experience of building transitional shelters in both Santo Nino and Tagpuro, AHV decided to develop a pilot core housing program. Barangay 83-C was one of the hardest hit and we have focused our efforts here.
After extensive assessments, we selected two families who we believed needed these homes the most. These families are the Garcia family, made up of Oliver, Cindy and their four sons and the Pedrosa family, made up of Marvin, Alona and their four daughters. They were both living in make shift shacks.
When I was thinking how I would showcase the rebuild of the first two progressive homes I wasn’t sure which direction the project would take. Then I started to spend some time within the community of Barangay 83C. I began to talk to the home owners, play with their kids and sit with their neighbours; the women whilst they hand washed clothes and the men as they cut down banana leaves. I started to photograph them, tell them about myself and allow them to slowly open up to me.
By simply spending an hour of my day with them and watching the volunteers work with the families and local carpenters I saw that rebuild is not just hammering wood together and creating a house, it is so much more. Rebuild encompasses education, employment, training, community, sustainability, education and welfare. I asked everyone involved in the rebuild of the two homes some questions on the importance of rebuilding back into the community.
Izzy Smith | Pedrosa Team Leader
Why is rebuilding back in the community important to you?
“By rebuilding within the communities we are helping keep families and friends together. Community is bigger than the houses we are building. The coolest thing is the ownership we are giving to the families”.
How has it been working along side the Filipino carpenters?
“The care that the Filipino workers give is incredible. Marvin, the home owner, is actually an amazing carpenter. It seems necessity breeds ingenuity. It breeds invention.
The best thing about Filipino carpenters is their taste in music”.
I saw her joking with the local carpenter, Adore so I asked if they were friends.
“It’s amazing how he agrees, but never actually does what I say”.
Adore laughed, then they hugged.
Only one week into the project and I could already see strong bonds building between everyone involved, particularly between the team leader Izzy and the local carpenters.
Rene | Carpenter
How would you compare your first week of the project to now?
“I didn’t know the volunteers so at first I was nervous, but now we are like family. We work together every day, listen to each other, tell each other when we are doing something wrong”.
Do you ever do anything wrong?
“No”. He looks around.
“Only Izzy does things wrong”. He laughs.
“We are always training to build better. I teach the volunteers Filipino style and they teach us their ways”.
Clifford | Technical Support
Why do you think it’s important that we’re here?
“To make sure the standards are kept high. There needs to be responsibility if something goes wrong and we are that. We regulate breaks, deliveries, as well as maintaining high standards”.
Do you learn anything from the local carpenters?
“Absolutely. I learn methods. Without using power tools we’re back to basics and using our bodies, rather than the tools we’ve become accustomed to”.
Boy | Carpenter
Did you think you would learn anything from this project?
“No. I have been building since I was a kid so I know a lot”.
Have you learnt anything?
“I have learnt many things. We learn new ways, new techniques. I learnt why we are doing certain practices. By being taught why we are trying new ways I have learnt the importance of building back stronger. Now I can teach my kids that these techniques will protect us from winds in the future”.
Ana | Long Term Volunteer
Can you tell us a bit about the Pedrosa family?
“The Pedrosa family are made up of Melvin and Alona. Their great, they are a really lovely couple, they are always helping around the place. Alona’s sweeping all the time and Marvin is really hands on, always carrying buckets and shovelling, he’s really cool. It’s a really nice family”.
What do you love about this project?
“I love this project in particular because we’re surrounded by kids, we’re in the community, we’re by the wells with banana leaves. It’s just adorable and lovely and smiles and happiness all around”.
Tonja | Program Coordinator
What do you bring personally to the project?
“Workers and the community are always asking questions about why we are doing what we are doing. We are not just building, we are teaching about pollution and sustainability. I teach Oliver why we do each stage. It’s amazing because Oliver is always on site working hard and you can tell he’s so excited to be learning”.
Marvin | Pedrosa Home Owner
“We lived in the house for 13 years. There was nothing there before. I built it myself and I was proud of it. I asked Tonja if I could keep the concrete slab that was still there because I had made it. It added a days work of changing planning, but she kept it because she knew it was important to me”.
What was your favourite thing about your house?
“I really liked the big room”.
Oliver | Garcia Home Owner
Why did you stay here after the typhoon?
“We lost everything. We didn’t have money to travel anywhere to be safe”.
Is it important that you stay in 83C?
“Yes. This is our neighbourhood and our children’s home. Our neighbours are like family. Our children go to school here. Our jobs are here. If we leave the city we leave our opportunities”.
Izzy says your a great carpenter. How is it working with the volunteers?
“A lot of Filipino’s know carpentry. The volunteers are great, the girls are so strong and all of them are so good with our children. Every day our children are so excited to know the volunteers are coming. I like that they are practicing English with them too. Sometimes the children try to teach them our dialect”.
Cindy | Garcia Home Owner
Is this where you live?
“Yes. We built it after we lost our home”.
How many of you live here?
“Me, Oliver and our four sons”.
What do you want for your boys?
“I want them to have a better life than I had”.
Sol | Garcia Team Leader
Why is it important to build back into the community?
“This is where their lives are, where their livelihood, friends and family are. Also, maybe this is a coincidence, but since we started building we could see the positive impact in the community. At least three more houses have been built after we started”.
Who has been the best person to work with?
It’s not about one person. It’s about the team for the day. I really enjoy when everybody is on the same page, also with great camaraderie where you can joke without neglecting the work. When teams click and work together. That’s my favourite days”.
What has been the best part of 83C for you?
“How much I learnt. But the best thing was seeing how Oliver and Cindy transformed the house into a home”.
Adore | Lead Carpenter
How did you join All Hands?
“I was originally hired by All Hands and IOM to build homes in Tagpuro. We built many strong homes together. Laurence said he would recommend me to All Hands and tell them the work I had done. I did a good job so they employed me again. They rehired my friends also from working at Tagpuro. Now when I’m not working at 83C I am helping around All Hands base, fixing tools, lights and doors with the volunteers”.
How is your relationship with the volunteers?
“They are like my children and I am their father”.
Rojer | Carpenter
Why do you like All Hands?
“I have six children. Six girls. All Hands gives me a break from them”. He laughs a lot.
I asked him about Tagpuro. This is the project All Hands first employed him for.
“Even though I actually loved the sense of community, working along side all of my carpenter friends in Tagpuro, I think it’s nice to work with the home owner on this project and know the person I’m building the house for. We are with the children who will move in, the children admire the volunteers”.
Joanna | Garcia Neighbour
I started calling Team Leader, Sol ‘Mama Sol’ in front of the children because she always told them off when they came too close to the machinery. I asked one of the girls about the female volunteers.
“Mama Sol is so strong! She carries more wood than the men”.
Do you like having the volunteers around?
“I like it. They play with us when they are not working. Mama Sol is always telling us to be safe”.
Pedrosa Neighbours | Barangay 83C
Do you speak with the volunteers?
“We see them working hard every day, but we don’t speak to them because we are shy”.
You can practice English with the volunteers.
“Really? We’d like that”.
Joanna | Garcia Neighbour
Who is this?
“She is my neighbour and my best friend”.
If you moved, would you forget her?
“I could never forget her or leave her”.
Garcia Children | Barangay 83C
I spent an hour with the Garcia children and their friends flying kites. Are the boys good at flying kites?
“No. I am the best”.
During this project we attended a ‘Build Back Better’ talk with IOM (International Organisation for Migration).
They have set up the Build Back Better Campaign and are educating Tacloban in a beautiful way.
After the presentation I caught up with some of the IOM staff.
Laurence | IOM Shelter Officer
You kept talking about triangles during your presentation? Why?
“One of the first lectures I had in architecture our professor highlighted the roof trusses and formwork in a newly designed Arts Centre. He pointed out the triangular forms in these elements and ever since I have been looking at construction differently. Triangle are prevalent everywhere in structure not just construction but in nature in carbon atoms. The main aim is to do more with less, triangles assist us in making very strong transitional shelters by triangular bracing of walls and roofs”.
Build Back Better Trainer | IOM
So your job is to train local carpenters in building back better?
“Yes. I teach them, then they teach their friends, employees, children who then teach the next group. It’s like a growing spider web of education”.
What do you teach the carpenters?
“The way you hit a nail in can be the difference between it blowing away and staying strong. With these little techniques you can learn to build back safer”.
Mama D | IOM
Mama D, how did you get involved in this programme?
“It’s my passion to reach out to people in need. We have a lot of disasters in the Philippines so a lot of people work in disaster relief”.
We didn’t want to stop at 2 houses, so on November 10th six volunteers are cycling seven days across the islands of Leyte and Samar, following the path of Super Typhoon Haiyan to give a voice to those affected and show the destruction that exists one year on. They are doing this to raise money to continue the build of core homes. 100% of the money raised will go directly to building homes to those who need it the most. Support them on their mission here www.justgiving.com/riseuprideon/
Article written by Chloe Lyttle | Multimedia Producer | All Hands Volunteers