ORMOC CITY-Analyn Abelle, a mother of five children, was visibly happy while members of the Tzu Chi Foundation have their ceremony on September 29 for the construction of 2,000 housing units to be given to families who lost their houses during the onslaught of Supertyphoon Yolanda close to a year now. “Of course, I could not contain my happiness because before the year is over, my family will be moving in to these houses donated by them,” the 29 year old mother said. Her house in Barangay Liloan, 12 kilometers away from the city proper, was totally destroyed during the onslaught of Yolanda. But before the year is over, weather permits, Abelle’s family along with 1,999 other families were projected by the Tzu Chi Foundation to transfer from their bunk houses to their new homes made of steel, tile cement and polyethylene plastic.

Each unit, consisting bedrooms, kitchen and a comfort rooms, measures from 21 square meters to 27 square meters, depending on the size of the family, said Alfredo Li, chief executive officer of the Tzu Chi.
Li, together with city officials led by Mayor Edward Codilla, attended the ceremonial program for the lunching on the construction of the houses in Liloan village. The houses will be constructed within the 50 hectares of lot donated through usufruct by Mayor Codilla to the Tzu Chi Foundation. Li said that given a good weather condition, the houses could be finished before the year is over. “But we hope we can finish it before the first year anniversary (of Yolanda)or November 8 or before December 24, as our Christmas gift to the people,” he said.

The construction of the 2,000 housing units in Ormoc is part of the 3,000 houses planned by the Taiwan-based Tzu Chi Foundation in Leyte. The Buddhist foundation, among the first groups to respond to Leyte after it was pummeled by Yolanda, also plan to construct 700 units in Palo and 300 units in Tacloban, ground zero of Yolanda. Lack of lots in Palo and Tacloban hinders the actual construction in these areas.
Each housing unit costs around P100,000 as materials were from Taiwan.

Meantime, Restituto Macoto, assistant regional director for operations of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, said that the deed of the Tzu Chi Foundation is “a very big help to us.” “We cannot deny that we cannot afford to construct houses for the victims of Yolanda who lost their houses. That is why, we are happy for their donation,” Macoto said.(JOEY A. GABIETA)