A year ago, Lina and I visited Balasan, on the northeast corner of the island of Panay, to see a project initiated by Mary Potter of Jaffrey. In 2014 Mary volunteered in Balasan in the aftermath of Hurricane Yolanda, helping to rebuild homes with a Filipino construction crew.   After her return home, she began to raise money for ongoing work to repair a home, a day care center and a church in the communities where she had served.


Balasan sits by tidal inlets where oysters are farmed. These strings of shells hang in the water for seed oysters to attach themselves to.


Eels are caught in the tidal streams.

Lina and I went to meet May, her local partner and a social worker with the Department of Social Welfare and Development.  May took us around to see some of the project sites. We were impressed by her energy and integrity, and we were happy to deliver some money raised by Mary from her mother’s congregation, the First Church of Jaffrey.


With Manang Neneng outside her house, already being rebuilt after heavy damage during Yolanda. May is in the red shirt.


May with Manang Neneng and neighborhood children in March of this year

Lina returned in mid March of this year to visit with May and see how the projects have progressed.   She found that Manang Neneng’s house now has an addition, and the hole for the latrine has been dug and cement tiles purchased to line it.


The addition on Neneng’s house


Tiles for the latrine (and two little boys!)


Construction of the new church is under way while the congregation continues to meet in an addition to a parishioner’s house.


Yolanda left only the cement posts of the church. Even with steel rebar inside, one of the posts was bent over by the force of the storm.


Services have been held in this house church since Yolanda struck.


Inside the temporary church, which doubles as sleeping quarters


The new church under way

Lina did not go to any of the day care centers we saw last year, but she did visit a livelihood project where a couple is raising pigs, and then distributing piglets to others who will benefit in turn.


One of the day care centers damaged by Yolanda


The high winds ripped the roof off the building. This photo was taken in 2015.


A participant in the livelihood project!

Lina has been able to be a bridge between Mary and May, Jaffrey and Balasan. It is wonderful to be part of the work these two energetic and committed young women have undertaken.


Local wisdom!

If you’d like to know more about this project, you can contact Mary at maryepotter@gmail.com .

To revisit my posts about Typhoon Yolanda, here is the link to the first of four:   https://orionblair.wordpress.com/2014/02/09/resilience-tacloban-1-february-7-2014/