Urban Poor Associates (UPA) together with Holy Spirit Sisters (SSPS) turned-over 40 boats to fishermen on February 13 at Barangay 90 Payapay, San Jose, Tacloban City.
Fishermen together with their wives and children gathered by the shore as Bishop John Du and Fr. Hector Villamil blessed the boats. The fishermen asked the Lord to drive away unfavorable wind from their boats and to always calm the sea. They prayed for fervent protection against typhoon like Yolanda.
The boats are painted blue with length of 20 feet and width of 18 inches. It has motor engine, paddle, nets and as part of disaster preparedness, a life-jacket.
Rene Labucay, beneficiary of the boat and resident of Barangay 90 said, “I know that this boat will bring us luck because the boat united all the fishermen. We worked hard in making the boats and that what made it different from all the gifts we have received after typhoon Yolanda.”
“We are very grateful that the Holy Spirit Sisters chose our barangay to distribute the boats. We are also thankful that the sisters brought UPA and the local organizers to help our community be organized. We are very happy and felt loved by many people who helped us,” Labucay added.
Sr. Marie Claire Manding, SSPS said, “The livelihood project in Tacloban is a collaboration of the South and North Holy Spirit Sisters (SSPS) provincials. We are planning to increase the number of beneficiaries by providing 125 boats or more. This signifies the 125th year of foundation of SSPS congregation in the whole world. We would also like to extend our gratitude to all the donors who believed in the project. This entire activity is a celebration of life.”
UPA partnership with SSPS resulted after UPA held a forum last December 17, 2013 entitled “Build Back Better” that aimed to ensure that the people of Tacloban will be consulted in all aspects of national reconstruction, including land, houses, health, jobs, administration, and hygiene kits.
Alicia Murphy, UPA Field Director said, “UPA helped in organizing Barangays 89 and 90 two areas hard-hit by Typhoon Yolanda, where the beneficiaries of the boats live. We aim that the organizing of 2,000 families will not only be for the livelihood program but eventually decent and resilient permanent housing.”
“We are thankful with DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman who gave us tents and generator for the construction of boats,” Murphy added.
The fishermen put up peoples organizations called Yolanda Survivor Fishermen Associations to help them have a dialogue with the government agencies who can help in providing solutions to their needs. The women are also creating an organization that will focus on the needs of women and children.
The group earlier distributed 14 pedicabs. The drivers are now earning 100 a day. It also helped them transport all their belongings every time there is call for evacuation. The Holy Spirit Sisters and UPA are also doing a Saturday feeding program that aims to give 165 children in Payapay a nutritious meal.
Murphy concluded, “We are doing this to make sure that the government acknowledges the best practices in reconstruction. We want worldwide acknowledged best practices to ensure that the majority of Yolanda survivors be served with integrity and that all their needs will be given priority.”