Graduation exercises were held in the Philippines for 620 carpenters who are building shelters following Typhoon Haiyan, locally called Yolanda. Family members and friends of the trainees attended graduation ceremonies on Wednesday, 28 May 2014, in Ormoc and Thursday, 29 May, in Tacloban.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is providing construction materials and tools to provide shelters for displaced families, and the recipients are providing the labor. So far, 3,210 homes have been built by the carpenters, who are receiving their government certification and a toolbox from the Church. The training will provide the graduates a livelihood since there is a great need for skilled carpenters in the typhoon-stricken areas of the Philippines.
“The Shelter and Carpentry Graduation is a celebration of Filipino resiliency,” said Elder Brent H. Nielson, area president of the Church in the Philippines. “The typhoon may have damaged many things but never the Filipino resolve to rise above the challenges around him. Many things have been accomplished after Yolanda. We will continue to serve our brothers and sisters as we follow the teaching of our Savior, Jesus Christ, to help others.”
The typhoon hit the central part of the country on 8 November 2013, killing hundreds of people and destroying thousands of homes. The province of Leyte was one of the hardest hit areas, including the cities of Ormoc and Tacloban where the shelters are being constructed.
Ricky Gonzalez and his family took shelter in a chapel when the typhoon struck. “We knew we needed to help one another so that the building of shelters can be completed quicker,” said Gonzalez, who is a master carpenter tasked to help others learn the skill.
Hundreds of Filipinos are being trained in carpentry and basic construction work under the tutelage of master carpenters who were brought in to assist with training through the Church’s Perpetual Education Fund (PEF). Under the program, the recipients are given the opportunity to own their own home after they construct it as well as four others.
On Wednesday, more than 300 trainees certified as skilled carpenters, who have built 1,402 shelters, participated in the graduation exercises at the Ormoc Stake Center.
“Today is a celebration of happiness and a brighter future ahead,” added Ricardo Aban, a stake president in Tacloban.