#AfterYolanda: Shelter for the elderly
LEYTE, Philippines – “Our new house is almost done. You should come back here and we will show you,” said Herminia and Abdon Valida.
Herminia, 76 and Abdon , 85, reside at Dulag, Leyte. They were among the nearly two million people left homeless by Typhoon Haiyan in Leyte province. They used to live a few meters away from a river.
Abdon has hearing difficulties while wife Herminia just suffered a mild stroke 4 months ago. She cannot move the right part of her body.
“We cannot get you inside because it is too dark," the old man said, referring to their makeshift house.
After the typhoon, they had been staying in their makeshift dwelling made of rice sacks and logs retrieved after the floodwater subsided. The house is just enough for sleeping – no bed, tables, and chairs. The ceiling is low but allows the couple limited mobility.
“I used to be a carpenter. I built our house right after the typhoon, but this is not sturdy. It will be easily blown away by strong winds. We do not have a choice. We do not have the resources to build a house that can withstand another typhoon,” the old man said.
Since Abdon cannot do carpentry work like before, he makes broomsticks for a living and earns at least P40 (around $1) per broom.
“We have been staying here for almost a year after our house was destroyed by the typhoon. It is hard because aside from having no electricity, we have to bend down because of the low ceiling. It is also very cold when it rains, and whenever the wind is strong and the rain is heavy, we get scared. It is still traumatic for us," Abdon recalled.
He added: “When we heard the news that there are kind people who will provide us with a house, we were so happy. We never thought we can have a decent one again. In a few weeks, we will soon transfer to our new house. I check it everyday. I want Herminia to see it while their carpenters are building it, but she can’t walk."
His eyes sparkling with excitement as he looked lovingly at Herminia seated beside him at the doorstep, Abdon said, “But, for sure, she will be surprised because it is very beautiful."
Abdon described the house to his wife Herminia with a smile. “The house has a big bedroom, windows and a sala (living room). We can soon eat with a table and sit on a chair. We can also stand properly without slouching."
It took a while for the old couple to find a place where they can build the house with World Vision’s help because survivors were advised not to return to where they used to live, identified as a no-build zone.
An estimated 1.3 million over the age of 50 were reportedly affected by the disaster. In a disaster, as people flee, the elderly are most at risk of being left behind or can end up isolated in evacuation centers. – Rappler.com
Maryann Zamora is an aid worker with the international non-profit World Vision.