Working together achieves greater leverage and impact; such is the objective of Rise and Rebuild Foundation (RRF) and IHHELPP which forged an alliance to provide employment by building disaster- resilient facilities out of compressed earth blocks.
From five to 69 workers, RRF has built a thriving compressed earth blocks (CEBs) factory in Leyte. The CEBs is nothing short of a livelihood miracle which has enabled young men save for their missions and provided a source of income for others. Using CEBs was initiated through the efforts of IHHELPP President, Rene Doria, who served a mission under Raymond Goodson, the RRF President.
Rene Doria and Paul Staples, IHHELPP VP for Operations, explored CEB machines that were eventually shipped to the Philippines. Assisting almost 70 families in the community, this project continues to expand. Benjamin Cinco, recipient of the first disaster-resilient home in the Philippines through IHHELPP and currently RRF’s CEB factory manager, was interviewed by Alice Rodejero and Erica Salas, IHHELPP’s volunteer writers from Cristo Rey High School, Tarlac.
IHHELPP: How was the CEB project for Leyte conceptualized?
Benjamin Cinco: After Yolanda, we saw the need for comfort rooms and employment in our community. We thought of building a brick factory to sustain that necessity and to give people a source of livelihood.
IHHELPP: How did this project start and what were the challenges you encountered?
Benjamin Cinco: We only had five workers and three machines during our initial operation. People were skeptical at first, but we pushed through.
IHHELPP: Tell us about the project’s achievements and progress.
Benjamin Cinco: We have built more than 100 public comfort rooms. We also just finished two Nutrition Centers in Leyte. We started dabbling with water drilling and installations. So far, we have built water systems that provide potable water for 10 communities. We have come a long way. We now have four machines and 69 workers. People who initially doubted the project are now working for us.
IHHELPP: What did you do to change their minds?
Benjamin Cinco: We worked faithfully with the community. We strived hard to help people achieve a higher quality of living. Our efforts paid off; we won the hearts of the community. We became one of the most in demand construction groups in Leyte. The local government unit even recognized our contributions. We recently received a donation of 1.5 hectares of land from Vice Mayor Mildred Modestro of Carigara, Leyte.
IHHELPP: That is amazing! You are helping a lot of people.
Benjamin Cinco: Many of our present workers did not have jobs after Yolanda. They would wake up every morning feeling hopeless. RRF gave them jobs and now, they have the means to support and sustain their families. The project sustains 70 families. That is around 250 people benefitting from the employment.
IHHELPP: What are your future projects?
Benjamin Cinco: We have an 87% success rate in our projects. We don’t dare rest on our present laurels though. We keep going. We currently have additional jobs and future projects lined up. We are building a 400,000-peso house out of compressed earth blocks
next week. We also have four public communal comfort rooms lined up this month and water drilling and systems installations the next month.
IHHELPP: Any advice for those who want to follow this project’s success?
Benjamin Cinco: Be determined to help others. We need to work hard and build good relationship with people around us, especially those who are determined to help you.
IHHELPP aims to spark hope and propel progress in communities it serves. The Compressed Earth Blocks factory in Leyte is a realization of this goal. Looking ahead, there is no other way for IHHELPP but up. We look forward to more successes and more lives blessed and changed through IHHELPP.
Help us assist the Filipino people to have better opportunities in health, education, housing, and livelihood. 100% of your donations will be used to further IHHELPP’s programs. To donate, visit http://www.ihhelpp.org/.