REBUILD Project earned the brand of a “fishing boat project”. Rightly so. After Yolanda’s rampage, our hearts bled for the small fisherfolks whose only means for livelihood was destroyed as well. Without their fishing boats, they cannot bring decent meal on their tables, they cannot send their children to school, they cannot save for any emergencies and any other unforeseen household expense. The small fisherfolks yearned to go back to fishing so they could wean themselves from dependency on relief and charity. They kept on saying that if only they could go back to fishing, they would take charge of the rebuilding of their shelters. We believed them and we committed to help them help themselves. We were daunted with the enormity of logistical requirements to address all 29 small fisherfolks who lost their fishing boats as we had limited funds. But our vision was greater than all operational limitations combined. And so we started with the single boat for Naborot Island, reminding ourselves at the same time…”one boat at a time, one family at a time.“ Now, barely a month and a half after, everyone of them are already assured of a replacement fishing boat! It’s all because many shared in the same vision we have that triggered an outpouring of gift-giving. Today, twelve of them are back to fishing, and the rest before this month (January 2014) is over.
As we look back, we are amazed we have gone this far in so short a time. More inspiring is the fact that our development interventions for Naborot Island had gone way beyond just the provision of fishing boat. We have facilitated the rebuilding of some of their “common service facilities” like their lone primary school that hosts Grade I to III. Now, the little kids would not have to bear the brunt of heat or the cold splash of rain as half of the destroyed roof is being rebuilt. We are also setting up a mini library. Another partner is seriously considering not only rebuilding the destroyed chapel, but even improving it to withstand another Yolanda, God forbid. Soon, we will facilitate the repair of their communal water system. We’ve also assessed the health index of all households and we evaluated the sanitation concerns as well. We are in discussion with another partner institution that will facilitate the provision of solar lanterns. And we took notice too of the nine (9) households that are not recipients of the provision of fishing boats as they had none before Yolanda. They also have to be addressed, otherwise the REBUILD Project may appear to be discriminatory, exclusive rather than inclusive. As some of them asked, “what about us?”, we cannot be deaf nor indifferent to that. And so we listened, and we committed to help them too. Already, there are exciting possibilities in creating economic opportunities for each of them.
We’ve not lost track too of the rebuilding of the intangibles. Still, there are a lot of earnest efforts needed in rebuilding the community of Naborot Island. The inter-personal and family relationships are something not very visible at once. But like the wind, gentle or strong, breezy or violent, we do not see where they are coming from but they can create harmony or discord. We believe that a divided community will not go far. We will be unceasing in our community development initiatives in the months to come.
In all these developments from the ground, REBUILD Project is really shaking off the tag “fishing boat project” because it is really much more. We like what we are seeing and the project is evolving to become more holistic, integrative and comprehensive. Maybe we are aiming at a complete rebuilding of an affected community – or at least, the closest to it. Beyond the fishing boat, REBUILD Project is really about rebuilding lives, about rebuilding communities. Beyond the fishing boat, there is much more work to do. Journey with us as we bring our Naborot experience to other coastal communities of Northern Iloilo.