by Boris Dieckow
There are moments in the life of every human when he can call himself lucky. For Joseph this was such a day. It was more than the respective writing on his T-Shirt: „Today is my lucky day“ (picture on the right). The day, when he signed the papers for receiving the building materials, has set the world straight for him again. Immediately after typhoon Haiyan had destroyed a considerable part of the Philippines, we decided to provide the help to the local people. Our journey brought us to an island that was not in the focus of media coverage: Doong is a small island, located around 1300 kilometres from Manila. When summing up all the land, air and water routes, it takes a good 20 hours to get there from Cologne.
Considering all the grief people experienced, it was a great fortune none of the inhabitants were killed during the disaster. However the damage to the island was immense: from 1500 residential buildings on the island half were completely destroyed and around 300 houses were partly damaged, the power supply lines were torn as well as public buildings like schools and medical institutions were severely affected – people were left with not much hope. After concluding our first rough estimation of the situation, we decided to rebuild or repair all of the houses on the island, including both medical institutions as well as schools and kindergarten.
For the registration of damage all the houses were classified as „completely destroyed“ or „partly destroyed”. Together with the local administrations we defined criteria to ensure that the detection of the damage is transparent to everyone. It was good to see that there was not one case, in which the damage was claimed to be larger than actual in order to receive more building materials. During a public meeting each person affected by the typhoon received a numbered contract. And depending on the amount and type of the materials delivered by boats during a day, the holders of the contracts that could be served next day received a notification in the evening, i.e., information on who can receive their materials at 8 o’clock the following morning was provided.
The effort put into logistics in order to bring all the building materials to the island is unimaginably high: everything needs to be brought on boats. And when the water levels are too low, the beams and bags of cement need to be carried one by one for 300 metres to the land. The materials were brought to our warehouses with an incredible effort and inexhaustible energy. After unloading, the boat sets off for a three our trip back to the island of Cebu, to ensure that the next delivery will follow the next evening.
House after house, village after village – the inhabitants are building their homes again, providing a lot of mutual help. Once all the houses will be finished, we will have used 8500 kilograms of nails, 45 tons of cement and many thousands of beams, plywood panels and corrugated metal sheets on the island. It takes approximately five days to build a house again. 18 square metres in different variations. Using the materials provided, some of the families that previously shared one house have built two smaller houses. For many people in Germany it is probably hard to imagine that somebody can break into tears of joy while moving a family of eight people in a 9 square metre house. Here we experienced it over and over.
Joseph, the man with the lucky day shirt, received materials for his house as well. He had previously worked in Manila as a welder for three years receiving a weekly wage of 5 euros until he finally had enough money to build a house for himself and his family. And just one month after the house was finished, it was destroyed by the hurricane. His frustration must have been endless. But there he was standing in his T-Shirt and signing for his building materials.
Cap Anamur operates in many countries for the benefit of people like Joseph. And once the work is done, not only the ones receiving help are happy.
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