Typhoon Haiyan: A Labor of Love


You may not understand the language, but you can guess from the sound of the conversation they are husband and wife.

Think of your own parents working together on a home renovation project or tackling a big job with your spouse. The discussion isn’t always sweet romance.

It’s late afternoon in the community of Maricum on the island of Leyte in the Philippines and Nenita and Nicolas Bardalo are working together to build their home. 

She lifts heavy corrugated sheets over her head and carries them over to the house frame. He takes them onto the roof and hammers them in place.

When Typhoon Haiyan struck their community in November 2013, their home was utterly destroyed. Now, they live with their two children in a makeshift house.

They have been married for over 20 years and are committed to building their new home together. The sooner the better too. Nenita says she has a sore back from hunching over all the time in their current dwelling and they constantly bang their heads on the ceiling.

However, it’s difficult work as Nicolas needs to split his time earning money working in the nearby rice fields and building their home.

Ah! But today Nenita had a plan. 

She left early in the morning to the rice fields to do his work so he could focus his entire day on the house. 

Alas, her ruse was spoiled as Nicolas wanted to be with his wife, so he too headed to the fields. 

Now, on this sunny afternoon they’re installing a roof with corrugated metal sheeting provided by CARE and partner ACCORD. 

Nicolas previously worked as a part-time carpenter so he is confident he can handle this project with his spouse. While he was unable to attend a CARE/ACCORD briefing on building sturdier homes, he says he was briefed on “build back safer” techniques from a community roving team that helps pass on lessons learned. 

It’s hard work, but Nenita and Nicolas hope to have their home completed in a few weeks. Together.


Written by Darcy Knoll, emergency communications coordinator for CARE Philippines


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