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New beginning for Lakawon folk

KALIPAY PROJECT
New beginning for Lakawon folk
BY CARLA GOMEZ

 

Super typhoon “Yolanda” destroyed the houses of 280 residents on Lakawon Island in Cadiz City, Negros Occidental, in November, but it also provided them with a chance for a new beginning.

Lakawon is a 13-hectare banana shaped island off the coast of Cadiz City, with white sand beaches on the side facing Negros Island, and a small fishing village on the other side.

When “Yolanda” struck, the houses in the fishing villages were flattened, they kissed the ground, and the fishermen lost about 90 percent of their boats, Anna Balcells, Kalipay Negrense Foundation president, said.

“It is ironic that Lakawon is a paradise island resort, and yet, at one end of it, so many people are destitute,” she said.

After visiting the typhoon-hit areas in northern Negros Occidental and speaking to Cadiz Mayor Patrick Escalante, Kalipay members decided to make the residents of the fishing village of Lakawon their adopted community, she said.

Balcells, who lived in Spain for many years but had returned to Negros for good, got many calls from friends and the Spanish media after Yolanda and she used the opportunity to appeal for help.

Her group initially provided food, medical and clothing assistance to residents of Bantayan Island in Cebu, Capiz in Panay, and Cadiz City.

“Ninety percent of the donations given to Kalipay for the typhoon victims came from Spain but, of course, we still need a lot of help,” she said.

That's because Kalipay has looked beyond the initial relief measures and has decided to partner with the Cadiz City government and Gawad Kalinga to provide more lasting help, she said.

She said the Cadiz City government purchased a 3.5-hectare property in Barangay Cadiz Viejo in the mainland, solely for the relocation of the Lakawon informal settlers.

By relocating them, the Lakawon residents will no longer have to live in constant fear of losing their homes and lives to typhoons, and of being isolated from the rest of the province, she said.

She said their target is to build 280 houses at the Cadiz Viejo site with GK committing to 140, and Kalipay building the other half.

Balcells said Kalipay has, so far, raised enough money for 40 houses and is still in need of money to build 100 more.

But Balcells, who works on faith that the Lord will provide, and in the goodness of others, is optimistic they will achieve their goal.

On top of that, Kalipay has, so far, raised funds for 33 fishing boats for the Lakawon fishermen and hopes to be able to reach a target of 50, she said.

Aside from the houses and the boats, Balcells said Kalipay is committed to work at helping the residents of Lakawon develop new livelihood skills at the Cadiz Viejo resettlement site to augment their incomes.

We are committed to work with them for the next three years to make sure change happens, Balcells said.

Kalipay's goal for the people of Lakawon is to give them an opportunity for a better life, no longer as squatters, but as owners of the land where their houses will be built on, she said.*CPG

 

http://www.visayandailystar.com/2014/February/25/topstory8.htm