Monday, October 26, 2009

Rotary’s “ShelterBox” tents: giving hope to calamity victims

PERMANENT RELOCATION FOR TYPHOON VICTIMS STILL UNCERTAIN: If some 3,500 or so residents of Botolan, Zambales whose houses were swept away by floods at the height of Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng cannot thank Rotarians good enough for the Rotary shelter box tents that are being used by them as their temporary homes, it is because their relocation to a permanent residence is still uncertain.

Exactly eighty days to the day after they were left homeless as I am writing this column, the residents-typhoon victims still do not have any place to go to build new houses and resume their normal lives, according to Gregorio Jaring, the barangay captain (or village chief) of Bgy. Carel, Botolan, Zambales who himself resides, with his family, in a Rotary shelter box tent.

In an interview on October 25, 2009 at a relocation site in Botolan called Tent City 1 (there is a Tent City 2 in a nearby area) while Rotarians from District 3810 and District 3790 were distributing food, water, blankets, mats and fruits, Jaring said the Rotary shelter box tents not only gave them a new home right after the floods but, more importantly, gave them hope that things will be better.

Jaring told me that because the Rotary shelter box tents enabled the residents to have homes of their own in substitution of their houses that were washed away by the angry floodwaters, some sense of well-being and security have somehow descended upon them.

This would not have been possible if they were left to stay in evacuation centers or on the sidewalks and other public places, mixed with other people, Jaring said.


RESIDENTS AIR PLEA FOR EXPEDITIOUS ACTION ON RELOCATION SITE: The urgent plea now, Jaring said, is for Botolan’s local officials to expedite the development of a proposed relocation site for him and his constituents located at the hilly and mountainous Sitio Calibungan, Bgy. Porac, Botolan, Zambales.

As of the moment, it appears that there are now four bulldozers taking turns to level the site, but then what is really delaying the completion of the relocation site is the lack of budget on the part of the local government unit of Botolan.

This is the reason why there is no definite date yet for the transfer of Jaring and his people to this site, although the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has already earmarked the amount of Php70,000 for each of the houses to be built for the affected 831 or so families.

DSWD also aims to pay each family head who will undertake the construction of his own house in the amount of Php250 a day, Jaring said, apparently as a livelihood measure seeking to provide employment to the affected families while they are trying to rebuild their lives once again.


DISEASE OUTBREAK FEARED DUE TO LACK OF AMPLE WASTE DISPOSAL FACILITIES: Chona Didicatoria, 42, a childless married woman who was also given a Rotary shelter box tent in Tent City 1, is also raising a challenge for Rotarians and other civic-minded individuals to do something about improving the human waste disposal system in the tent cities.

Saying almost all of the tent city residents no longer have any place to return to since their houses and their fields were either swept away or buried under tons of sand, Didicatoria said there is a growing concern about putting up more toilets and bath facilities in the two areas.

The toilets that were put up earlier are starting to be clogged and unusable, and that disposing human waste is becoming a problem as it unhealthy disposal may lead to disease outbreaks or other illnesses, Didicatoria added.


PROCLAMATION OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD: “Proclamation of the Kingdom of God” is the third mystery in the Mysteries of Light, or Luminous Mysteries, of the Holy Rosary of the Roman Catholic Christians, and an account of it is found in Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:14 and Luke 4:15 of the Bible.

In Matthew 4:17, the story is told that when Jesus heard that John the Baptist had been put in prison, He returned to Galilee, and then lived in Capernaum, by the lake in Zebulun and Naphtali, to fulfill what the prophet Isaiah said.

“From that on, Jesus began to preach,” the same Biblical verse says, and what Jesus started to preach was this: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

In Mark 1:14, an almost identical account is found, thus: “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. `The time has come’, he said. `The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.’”

In Luke 4:15, on the other hand, this is what is written: “He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.” Luke however says that Jesus began to preach after he was tempted for forty days in the desert.

What is the lesson that we can derive from the third mystery of the Mysteries of Light?

It is that, there is a need for man, who has become wicked and mired in sin, to repent, stop sinning, and make the good news of God---the Bible nowadays---a necessary part of his life.


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