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Wednesday 22 August 2012

Ernesto starts again with a ShelterBox tent
Ernesto starts again with a ShelterBox tent ShelterBox tents set up in San Fernando, one of the many towns affected by the floods on the Bay Laguna shoreline to the north of the capital of the Philippines, Manila, August 2012.

Ernesto and Juanicia Di Joso had been living with their three teenage grandchildren in Santa Cruz on the Bay Laguna shoreline when Tropical Storm Haikui hit, bringing heavy rains and high winds. Their home was completely flooded. With no personal belongings, they had been staying in an overcrowded evacuation centre when they received a ShelterBox.

ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member Owen Smith (NZ) was part of the team that delivered their box:

'Ernesto is hoping to get a municipal grant to help him and his family build a new house on a small piece of land they own further away from the lake. The tent gives them the independence to move to their land and start again.'

'I think that it is foolish to continue living on the lakeshore since the recent floods,' said Ernesto. 'Thank you so very, very much for this gift.'

The interpreter, Del, who has been helping the SRT assess the need and distribute ShelterBoxes to families in need in other towns around Lake Laguna is a Rotarian and already knew Juanicia.


'It was just a coincidence that Del had been at school with Juanicia in grade two,' said Owen. 'They were so delighted to reunite and catch up after 54 years of not seeing each other.'

Ernesto and Juanicia are one of many families staying at the camp in Santa Cruz set up by Response Teams, who had invaluable assistance from local Rotarians, council staff and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Rotarian Del (far right) reunited with her friend from school Juanicia (far left) who received a ShelterBox for her and her husband Ernesto and three grandchildren, Santa Cruz, Philippines, August 2012.

Four-month pregnant Josephine and her husband Raymond Idean are also now living in a tent at Santa Cruz with their three children aged two, four and six.

'We are so happy to have the gift of a ShelterBox to move our young family into as our house is still under two metres of water,' said Josephine. 'We have been told that it will be November or later before the lake will drain enough for us to return to our home.'

With an uncertain future, ShelterBox has given the Idean family some dignity and privacy in the crowded school that is their evacuation centre.

The Philippines Navy, Emergency Medical Services, local Rotary Clubs and volunteers from the Asian College of Science and Technology have helped SRTs establish more camps in San Fernando, Sucat, Santa Rosa and Bay to help ease the congested evacuation centres and give families a place to live close to their homes.

SRT members Abner Tayco (PH) and Jim Kemp (UK) with volunteers from Emergency Medical Services, Phiippines, August 2012.

'The biggest challenge has been sourcing suitable land close to the flooded communities because much of the flooding has taken place in dense urban areas,' noted Owen. 'It is not much use giving a family a new home if it removes them from their local community or takes them too far from their flooded homes; and of course we also need to enable sanitation, potable water, security and everything else to make a camp habitable for families.'

'Double calamity'

Another serious repercussion of the flooding is that many businesses are still underwater and unable to operate.

'So many of the evacuees have the double calamity of living and working in the affected areas so now they have flooded homes and no jobs,' commented Owen.

Response Teams continue working hard to deliver shelter and other lifesaving supplies to families affected by the floods to the south and north of the capital Manila.
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