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Moving to a new ‘comfort zone’

New opportunities for typhoon relocatees.

For people who have been relying on the lake for their livelihood all their life, relocating to a new community is a big challenge.

In 2017, residents residing along Sampaloc Lake in San Pablo City, Laguna Province were relocated to Brgy. San Lucas 2 in the same city. It took them more than two years after Typhoon Glenda washed away their homes to finally settle into a new community that is far from this kind of danger.

The years between the damage of their homes and the construction of their new homes are all filled with stories of doubts and challenges of the people. But no matter how long and challenging the journey had been, the relocatees in Brgy. San Lucas 2 are glad that they embraced this new change and are all positive that starting all over again is never a bad thing.

New homes for typhoon victims

The relocation plan for the families living along Sampaloc Lake started in 2015 when the local government of San Pablo City proposed for the construction of new homes under the Core Shelter Assistance Program (CSAP) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

The CSAP is one of the interventions provided by DSWD along disaster response and rehabilitation, which provides structurally strong shelter units to victims of disasters or those who are living in hazardous areas.

“Noong umpisa, napakahirap lumipat kasi matagal na kaming nakatira dito (referring to Sampaloc Lake),” shared Ceverina Maula, who added that people doubted this project because they do not know what will happen once they move to the new site, especially that it is far from the lake where they all have been relying on for their income.

However, slowly, the residents agreed to move since they have been considering the safety of their families. According to them, all their lives, they worry whenever there is a typhoon because they do not know if they, as well as their houses, can survive from the rising water of the lake.

Under the CSAP, a total of 59 core shelter units were built through the help of the Bisig Pagkakaisa Neighborhood Association. This association is composed of residents who agreed to relocate to the new community and led in the construction of the homes.

Ernesto Flores, the president of the association, shares their gratefulness for the new houses. However, he shares the same sentiments with other relocatees regarding their livelihood.

“Yung pang-araw-araw namin, kinukuha namin iyon dati sa pangingisda. Pero dito, mahirap ang hanapbuhay lalo na at halos pangingisda lang ang alam ng karamihan dito,” said Ernesto.

Even with a new home, away from the threats of the lake during typhoons, Ernesto and the rest of the residents cannot fully enjoy the new life. If only they can access a new livelihood opportunity, they will be able to really move forward.

Wish granted—a new livelihood opportunity

In 2017, the association proposed for the opening of a community store to help with the livelihood of the residents in the community. Since the community is also far from the market, they see that a community store will be a practical project that will earn income while helping all the residents of Brgy. San Lucas 2 in their daily commodity needs.

In January 2018, the association was granted PhP 500,000 capital assistance under the DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Program.

The SLP is a capacity building program of the DSWD that provides opportunities for poor families to engage in a micro-enterprise through seed capital fund or gain employment through skills training and employment facilitation.

The members of the association underwent several trainings on small business management and financial management among others to prepare them for the opening of the community store.

“Malaking bagay sa amin ang tindahan na ito dahil halos lahat ng kailangan namin ay nandito na. Hindi na namin kailangang mamasahe pa papuntang bayan para bumili ng kakailanganin namin,” shares Hilaria Sandoval, the vice president of the association.

Hilaria added that the community store is able to help the members of the association through earnings from their dividends in the store. Also, the association also put up a system where members can borrow goods such as rice and gas, which they will pay once they have money.

With the community store’s income, the association plans to a buy a tricycle, which they will use to save on the cost of transporting goods for the store. This will also become a new source of income for the association as the tricycle will also be used as public transportation going to and from the town proper. They are also hopeful that with the help of the store’s income, all of the members can own a tricycle and have a stable source of income.

For every member of the Bisig Pagkakaisa Neighborhood Association, their life may have started from scratch again, but with their continuous hard work and trust in each other, they will be able to finally say that they are happily settled in their safe and new homes.# with reports from FHDArancana

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