On turning 50, the people behind Our Lady of Fatima University and Fatima University Medical Center always had a certain goal in mind: that is to create a lasting difference in the lives of many, very much like how the institution stood the test of time.
Hoping for a simple yet impactful celebration, numerous prospects have soon led to a simple yet very meaningful offering: homes for families.
In collaboration with non-government organization Habitat for Humanity Philippines, OLFU and FUMC, in 2016, committed to funding the construction of 50 homes, symbolic of their 50 glorious years. Fatimanians, students and employees alike, vowed to dedicate their involvement in the project through volunteering.
Solidifying that promise, construction has been in full swing since the groundbreaking at Northville 2, Bignay, Valenzuela City last year, March 8th; an event graced by the Fatima family together with the first beneficiaries.
Now, Fatima looks at what they have given back so far.
Structures of hope
OLFU, FUMC and Habitat for Humanity are vigorously on their way to reaching the magic number. As of June 2018, they have already built 11 homes in Bignay – eight were constructed from the ground while three were remodeled from pre-existing structures.
As volunteers work together towards their goal, little do they know that they are building beyond shelters – there are actually specks of hope planted in every nook and cranny, intertwined with every stone and brick.
That is evident in the testimonies of their friends from Northville 2, whom Fatima revisited a year after the groundbreaking.
“Tuwang tuwa ako kasi unang-una, gustong-gusto ko talaga magkabahay kaya lang kakulangan nga ng pera, di makapagpatayo”, said Francisco Bernal as he recounted the moment he was named one of the beneficiaries.
(“I was very happy because first of all, I’ve always wanted to have my own house, but because we were lacking financially, we couldn’t have it built.”)
At first, it seemed too good to be true to Mr. Bernal, who now stands as the president of OLFU’s recipients in Northville 2. He shared that if it weren’t for his new home, his family would just be renting a place.
“Lubos lubos po kaming nagpapasalamat kasama po yung mga kasamahan ko dahil kung hindi dahil sa inyo hindi kami magkakaroon ng ganito”, he said.
(“My neighbors and I are very thankful because if it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t be able have these.”)
Teodora Royo Katubigan, a beneficiary who had been renting a home for 20 years prior, described how her family’s life changed since living in her own house January this year, saying that they are now more comfortable than before. Gone are the days when they had to deal with the stress of monthly dues.
“Kung hindi dahil sa inyo sa Fatima ‘di kami nagkaroon ng bahay na ganito kaya ang laki ng pasalamat ko”, she expressed.
(“If it weren’t for Fatima, we wouldn’t have a house like this, and that is why I’m very thankful.”)
She shared how she was having doubts before about being able to set up a house she can call her own due to lack of resources. Upon being informed of OLFU’s project with Habitat for Humanity, her family felt a spark of hope. “Nabuhayan kami ng loob”, she said.
Standing as the guardian of her grandson who is now in Grade 4, Mrs. Katubigan hopes to run a small kakanin business by her house once she saves up enough capital.
Onward to 50
Initially, 28 homes were in the pipeline for Northville 2, while the remaining 22 houses were set to be constructed at Bistekville in Quezon City.
However, due to changes in partner Habitat for Humanity’s arrangements, the number of houses for Northville 2 has been capped at 11, and construction has been moving forward in a new community in Bistekville 5.
33 homes are intended to be built in the said area, according to Neil Suñer of the OLFU Social Orientation and Community Involvement Office. Work has begun on the site May this year, and the turnover of homes is expected at most sometime in December.
In Northville 2’s case, there had been no formal turnover as of the moment due to the structures’ different completion dates. Nonetheless, Mr. Suñer said that his office is planning to hold a simple ceremony for the community.
The six remaining homes to complete 50 are to be built in Bohol so as to go beyond the capital region, and also in support of rehabilitation efforts, said Mr. Suñer.
As per Habitat for Humanity’s timeline, all 50 structures are targeted to be finished this year.
But of course, it definitely will not stop there. While nothing is specific as of the moment, OLFU is looking to provide health and livelihood programs in the future with the hopes of empowering the communities, added Mr. Suñer.