House painting volunteers in the Shell-GK Sitio Canitoan Village
Shell volunteers

In connection with the establishment of the North Mindanao Import Facility (NMIF) in Cagayan de Oro (CDO) City in 2016, a resettlement programme was developed to provide houses for 20 informal settlers living within the delineated port zone. The houses, constructed in the Shell-GK Sitio Canitoan Village, were turned over on December 15, 2016; it is the second village in CDO established in partnership with GK; the first was built in 2012 where 220 homes were provided for the survivors of Typhoon Sendong (international name: Washi).

According to Melanie Bularan, Country Social Performance & Social Investment Manager, “This project is not only done in CDO through NMIF, but also in other parts of the country where Shell is present. It’s really about initiating advocacies that promote people and community development.”

House handover
Ceremonial handover of houses

Meanwhile, during the House Turnover Ceremony, Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. (PSFI) Executive Director Edgardo Veron Cruz said that GK has long been a partner of Shell not only in building houses, but also in providing sustainable livelihood programmes; these include organic vegetable farming trainings which PSFI has introduced to GK beneficiaries in several villages across the country. This is also aligned with the commitment of CDO City Mayor Oscar Moreno, represented by City Housing Consultant Ermin Pimentel, to sustain the resettlement programme through skills training and livelihood support.

The Shell retailers in CDO City, led by Emma Lim Lo Suy, also joined the volunteer house painting activity and provided Christmas gift packs to the beneficiaries. “It is truly heartwarming to know that Shell is supporting this kind of activity. We look forward to be involved in this kind of undertaking in the future,” said Suy. According to her, more than providing shelter, the beneficiaries also need to be assisted in their livelihood activities. “As a retailer, I want to make the beneficiaries feel that we care and we can help them in whatever way we can,” she added. 

A housing beneficiary with her son
Mercy Telmo with her son

Resettling means adjusting to a new life. And because Sitio Canitoan is not close to the city, job opportunities are scarce. With that, the plan to have a sustainable livelihood programme is being explored, according to Mark Brazil, NMIF Community Liaison Officer.

One of the newly-resettled residents is Mercy Telmo, a 37-year old mother who emphasized the significant change that happened in her life: “Mas ligtas ang pakiramdam namin dahil mas matibay ang bagong bahay namin. Wala kaming problema tuwing umuulan. Maganda at komportable rin dito (We feel safer because our new house is sturdier. We don’t experience any problems whenever it rains. It’s also beautiful and comfortable here).” Thanking Shell and GK, she said, “Matagal na namin itong pinagdarasal at ngayon natupad na ang pangarap namin (We’ve been praying for this, and now our dream is fulfilled).”

As this partnership with Gawad Kalinga has proven, Shell goes beyond developing new energy sources to address the energy challenge by being a strong partner of the Filipino in pursuing nation-building initiatives.

 

By Rachael Nathanielsz and Conrad Parizal

Article published on PSFI news magazine October 2017 issue

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