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PIA Press Release
Wednesday, January 25, 2012


40 days after flood, new start for Sendong survivors at Xavier Ecoville

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Jan. 25 (PIA) -- The number 40 holds various significant meanings for various spiritual and cultural traditions. Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights; Buddha reached enlightenment after meditating for 40 days under the Bodhi Tree; Prophet Muhammad received his first revelations at the age of 40; and it rained for 40 days and 40 nights during the Great Flood.

On Jan. 25, exactly 40 days after Sendong struck Cagayan de Oro with devastating force, signs of a new beginning for the survivors are taking solid shape in Barangay Lumbia.

Xavier University is blessing Xavier Ecoville, a brand new neighborhood for families who have been displaced by the typhoon that destroyed wide swaths of the city on Dec. 16 and 17.

Five hundred families – about 2,500 people – will take up residence at Xavier Ecoville, a joint relocation and resettlement project of Xavier University and the local government of Cagayan de Oro.

The relocatees were chosen from a comprehensive list supplied by the City Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the affected barangays and the Archdiocese.

Priority has been given to families whose houses had been completely washed out and families from barangays that have been declared as no-build zones or areas considered as dangerously flood-prone to ever allow resettlement.

“Our mandate is to ensure a smooth and organized community transfer,” says Estrella Borja, community organizing and community development head. She said the process involves three phases: selection, which covers profiling and orientation of the beneficiaries, and matching of houses to the beneficiaries; transfer to the temporary shelter; and lastly, transfer to the permanent shelter.

The long-term goal is to “facilitate the organization and development of an eco-friendly and sustainable village with the community participating in the process,” Borja said.

Formation and community development programs will start as soon as the families have settled in.

The first batch of 40 families has already moved in to Phase One of Xavier Ecoville, the temporary shelter provided with help from the Philippine Red Cross, International Organization for Migration, the Philippine Army and DSWD.

The temporary shelter has water from Rio Verde and electrical supply from the Cagayan Electric Power and Light Company, Inc. (CEPALCO), restrooms including sustainable sanitation toilets, and washrooms provided by the Human Resettlement Consortium, a waste disposal system, laundry area, kitchen and a community center.

Phase 2 will be the site for the permanent houses.

A mobile school will also be provided in partnership with the Department of Education to ensure that the children can go back to school immediately even if there might not be enough classrooms yet to accommodate the new students.

Xavier University and DepEd Region 10 will plan the curriculum for emergency education using the mobile school, a bus provided by UNTV equipped with audio-visual components and a public address system, among other learning tools. Knowledge materials will come from the Knowledge Channel.

With the expected arrival of 500 families who will be building their futures at Xavier Ecoville in Lumbia, Xavier University is consequently engaged in community development to help the relocatees establish authentic relationships with their new neighbors.

The master plan of the new settlement involvessupport for“green” technology through provision of waste water treatment facility and promotion of solid waste management, livelihood, education, community organizing and governance.

“The project is not just about building houses,” says Fr Eric Velandria SJ, head of the partnership management committee. “The project is building a community of responsible citizens who will care for one another, for our city and for the environment.” (XU)

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