Our last blog entry about TSD’s relief efforts discussed the destruction of most of the houses on Malapascua and our plans to rebuild the homes of our staff members using the very generous donations we have received since the typhoon. TSD staff, in particular, Candice, Xesus, Jasmine and Gerard, have been working very hard to bring this project to fruition. No mean feat when you consider we are trying to rebuild 50 homes all at once!
The islanders use predominantly the same building materials for their structures: plywood, coconut lumber, tin roofs and on the rare occasion, cement. But every house is different and the damage to each house is different. Our aim is to rebuild each home as closely as possible to how it was before. Therefore, each person had the required materials tailored specifically. Each building was carefully evaluated and also categorised on a “Needs Scale” of 1 (no building or no roof) to 5 (minor damage), with about 65% of our staff fell in the “1” category. This made for a very complicated evaluation process and then a nightmare of a shopping list, including 12 different sizes of lumber, 5 different sizes of roofing and in excess of 300 kilos of assorted sizes of nails!
Candice, a project manager by profession, has been incredible at overseeing this unexpected project. She has made numerous involved spreadsheets, including working out costs down to the peso so as to maximise use of donation money and make it go as far as possible. It has also been quite a job to calculate priorities for receiving materials and produce a complex delivery schedule. With 50 homes to repair, it was impossible to bring in all the materials in one shipment, and we decided to break it down into around 12 deliveries. Homes are scattered around the island so each delivery was a complicated matter of maximising urgency of need with location.
So far we have had 10 of these deliveries. They are incredibly intense daily deliveries on various beaches around the island, made more difficult to manage due to sheer volume and differences in dimensions of lumber, nails, roofing etc. All the materials have to be correctly assigned and carried inland. It is a long and tedious day’s work. As everything has to be delivered manually – with no cranes or vehicles for transportation – it is also backbreaking labour under a relentless sun.
“Jasmine and Gerard have been godsends to me in this project. Jasmine has done all the ordering – and reordering depending on (frequent!) new requirements from staff members and Gerard has done all the wheeling and dealing and sourcing of materials and boats and an unbelievable amount of schlepping for such a small guy. During the first delivery he swam 30 pieces of 4x4x10 lumber between the port and the boat – at night! I am hoping this project doesn’t kill him but he is like an unstoppable machine and just wants to keep going and get his workmates into liveable homes 🙂
“Of all the project teams I have worked with over the years this is one of the most resourceful. Both of their roles are invaluable and your donations could not have been spent effectively without them. Thanks Jas & Gerry!
“This Christmas our donors managed to give over 50 people their homes back. From this end just being lucky enough to experience that firsthand is pure magic.”
Materials for around 4 or 5 people are brought in each delivery, in order of urgency, and Jasmine and Gerard have managed to get our deliveries coming in every day despite constant difficulties such as sourcing materials (everyone in the area is rebuilding!) and finding boats willing to pick up the materials from the mainland. But our aim has always been to get it finished a few days before Christmas and we are (amazingly!) on target!
Each delivery has been met with huge smiles and appreciation – we don’t know how to say thank you to you, our donors, except for to try and get as many photos as possible of developments as we go. Unfortunately we cannot post so many photos right now due to the speed of the internet on the island. But we will get those to you soon.
Equipment room manager, Dodi, was one of the many whose home was completely destroyed by the typhoon, but lucky Dodi was part of the first delivery. His house is now completely rebuilt, just in time for Christmas!!!
The name “Malapascua” actually means “Bad Christmas,” named by the Spanish who first arrived here in a bad storm in the 1500’s. And although 2013 has not been a good year for Malapascua, it will certainly not be a bad Christmas for the 50 families who now have new homes!
A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of us here at TSD!!!