As Tzu Chi volunteers continued to survey the situation of families affected by Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) in Baggao, Cagayan on September 23, they found a stroke patient who could not begin to rebuild his house because of his condition. With the neighbors pledging support in the construction work, Tzu Chi volunteers immediately acted and bought materials to start the rebuilding.
As Tzu Chi volunteers continue to assess the situation of Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) survivors in Baggao, Cagayan, they reached Barangay Awallan, where they found Rosemarie Lawigan, 52, at the ruins of her home. She was scavenging for construction materials that can still be used in constructing a temporary shelter.
During the typhoon’s onslaught, a tornado had swept through this community, flattening the houses of several families.
“Many typhoons passed this way but our house was never damaged before until this storm because the wind is too strong,” recounted Rosemarie.
Houses made from light materials can easily crumple from disasters, but in the case of Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) it’s remarkable that even structures made of concrete suffered severe damages. Use of cheap and poor-quality construction materials turned out to be the reason for such incident.
One house made of concrete in Barangay Alba was left with disintegrating walls. The owner had patched up the hollows that the typhoon had made with zinc sheets and scavenged canvas.
“Even if there is no typhoon, it is already too dangerous for the family to live in this house,” remarked Tzu Chi volunteer James Chua. He advised the owner to use better quality materials in rebuilding.
But in the province, where the residents earn their keep from farming, income is hard to come by. They have to wait for three months until they can harvest their produce and earn. In between those months, they would accept labor works so they will have daily money to bring home to their families. In such a tight financial situation, rebuilding after the calamity would have to wait.
This is how it is for the family of Sabas Capili, 60, who is almost crippled by stroke.
The typhoon had felled his house. The family, comprised of Sabas, his wife Josephine, and their two children, sleep in the narrow space that the typhoon had left from their house. They put old canvas over them to serve as roofing.
Due to his condition, Sabas stays home while his wife and 18-year-old son work as farmers to support the family’s needs. Their neighbors were eager to help the family rebuild. They were the ones who built Sabas’ house two years ago, when the family first moved in the village. This time however, they don’t have the construction materials to start the construction work.
When Tzu Chi volunteers heard this, they pooled their money and managed to collect Php 6,000, which they gave to Sabas’ neighbor Deog Gannaban. The volunteers instructed Deog to buy good quality zincs sheets and nails.
Hearing this, Deog grew emotional. “It’s difficult for Sabas to move around and now his house is down. They have no other place to stay. I really feel for him. Thank you for your help. He will be able to rebuild his house,” he said.
“We are going to buy zinc sheets and our neighbors will work together to build his house,” Deog added.
The following day, the volunteers revisited Sabas and found his old house gone. His family had moved into a makeshift shelter made from the zinc sheets that were bought using the donation from the Tzu Chi volunteers. It will keep them sheltered until his neighbors have finished rebuilding his house.
To ensure that they will be building a sturdier home for Sabas, the volunteers once again pooled their money and donated another Php 7,000 so the family could buy cement and sand.
Sabas was full of gratitude to the Tzu Chi volunteers and his neighbors. “This is an unexpected help. If no one is going to help, it will take a long time for us to rebuild. With your help, it will be over within a week,” he happily said.