What are the Strong and Eco Friendly Resettlement Homes Built by The Tzu Chi Foundation? Part 1
Factory in Taiwan Where Volunteers Build Homes for Tacloban
We can’t ignore natural disasters anymore. Definitely this would be true if you were a member of the Tzu Chi Foundation, which specializes on providing homes and aid to disaster areas. So far, their work has reached 80 countries that experienced disasters, whether natural or man-made.
Cover of Enrich Magazine, where this column was featured
Three successive disasters within two months
In the Philippines, we had three natural disasters successively in just 60 days. The first one was an armed conflict in Zamboanga (Sept. 2013) where 20,000 homes were burned. The second disaster was a 7.1 earthquake in Bohol Island (Oct. 2013) which destroyed homes, bridges and roads. Shortly after, we had typhoon Yolanda, the biggest natural calamity in the history of the Philippines.
How bad was Yolanda? It was categorized as an F5 typhoon by the USA Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center. If you saw the movie “Twister” you would know this is something that is extremely catastrophic and rare.
The winds covered over 500 km, traveling at a speed of 300 km per hour. The blowing of the wind extended to an area of over 1,000 km. Some 80 percent of structure was damaged, and 3.4 million families were affected.
I'm listed among columnists, right column bottom
Tzu Chi volunteers survey disaster area
I learned all this from volunteers of the Tzu Chi Foundation, and through their publication, Yolanda in Focus. Tzu Chi volunteers were in Ormoc and Tacloban very early in the typhoon’s aftermath.
First, they had to reconnoiter the area. There was no water or electricity. The volunteers camped in a schoolhouse where mosquitoes were plentiful. When it rained it soaked through the roof and flooded the area where the volunteers slept. The smell of death was prevalent and survivors of the disaster were shocked and in a state of deep depression.
After assessing the area a plan was made. First, a clinic and food station were set up. They distributed food, supplies, water and money. Next, they cleared up the area to open the streets. The survivors themselves, after being fed and given new hope and strength, were enlisted to assist in the clearing. They were given P500/day, which they were told was not payment but a donation.
Dharma Cheng Yen: "Only build a house you are willing to live in"
After this, they had to build temporary homes. Tzu Chi’s Dharma Master Cheng Yen told her people, “Only build a house that you yourself are willing to live in.” The result was temporary housing that would last for five years (with the understanding that by then, the family’s permanent home would already be rebuilt). However, Tzu Chi has one house that has, in a previous disaster in another country, lasted for 10 years.
After the house is no longer needed, it is taken down to be used in another country that may also be experiencing its own natural or man-made disaster. In this way, the houses themselves are recycled.
The houses are safe and as per Tzu Chi’s requirements, eco friendly. We learned this when we visited their factory in Taichung, Taiwan, where the components of the houses are built.
Resettlement House good for five years (by then, it is expected their permanent home will be finished)
Tzu Chi Foundation
Nothing is wasted
The houses are either 19.83 square meters, or 26.45 square meters in size. A larger family will have the larger house. There is a family area, kitchen, either two or three bedrooms (depending on the size), and a bathroom.
The houses are built with a steel frame and aluminum window frames (to prevent corrosion). The kitchen wall is fire-proof, and the rest of the walls are made of polypropylene boards that are imported from the US. These walls have good insulation and can absorb the sound of rain. About 1,000 screws are used.
The floor is made from tiles with a special shape so that they click into each other like pieces of a puzzle. Lisa Yu, a Tzu Chi volunteer, said that the material of the flooring is different from cement.
To explain, Lisa said that if you lay cement in your arm, your skin will be damaged. The same happens to the earth beneath cement. The tiles that Tzu Chi uses are made of material that allows the ground beneath it to breathe and to stay healthy. There is also a PVC pipe at the edge of the rooftop to catch rainwater so that it can be recycled. Nothing is wasted.
Natural Disaster preparedness
Of course, disasters don’t just take out homes. Sometimes they also take out larger establishments. For part 2 of this article, go to http://grandoldlady.hubpages.com/hub/Resettlement-Homes-That-are-Strong-and-Eco-Friendly-Part-2 to see how Tzu Chi helps equip those in disaster zones with the means to help ensure their future survival.
(Charity) Tzu Chi Help Haiyan Victims Rebuild Life
Above, you will see the comprehensive help that Tzu Chi gave to Tacloban storm victims. All volunteers paid for their own airfare, daily expenses and lodgings so that donated funds would go directly to the people of Tacloban.
Tzu Chi has worked in disaster help in 78 countries, including the USA where they worked in tandem with Red Cross. (Film below)