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Czech Republic’s shelter aid goes a long way

FRIENDLY ENVOY. Czech Ambassador Jaroslav Osla Jr. (foreground, left) coursed the shelter assistance to Typhoon Niina victims to the Center for Community Development of the Ateneo de Naga University which benefits 337 families. JUAN ESCANDOR JR.

By Juan Escandor Jr. NAGA CITY---For P1.9M that the Czech Republic donated through the Center for Community Development (CCD) of the Ateneo de Naga University (AdeNU), the shelter assistance for the victims of Typhoon Nina goes a long way in providing construction materials to 337 families whose houses were totally destroyed in three villages in three Camarines Sur towns. Lilia Bomalay, 50, could hardly hold back her tears when she received the shelter assistance from the Czech Republic, consisting of six galvanized iron sheets, six pieces of plywood, eight pieces of coconut lumber and two kilos of assorted nails. Bomalay, a resident of the village of San Miguel in Bula town in Camarines Sur, narrated she and her two children had been living in a makeshift shelter since Typhoon Nina destroyed their house on Dec. 25 last year. “We could now at least sleep under better roof made of galvanized iron sheet than the floppy plastic canvass we had been using after the typhoon wrecked our home,” she said in the dialect. Sustresgracia Eres, 70, wore a big smile when finally, the building materials worth P4,000 for each family were distributed to them on Thursday afternoon in the presence of Czech Ambassador Jaroslav Olsǎ (pronounced Yaroslav Olsha) Jr. and AdeNU President Primitivo Viray Jr. After the distribution of the shelter assistance in Bula town, Olsǎ, Viray and the AdeNU group proceeded to the village of Villaflorida in Ocampo town where the inhabitants are the indigenous Agta minorities. Repeating the formal distribution of the shelter assistance to Agta families whose houses were totally destroyed by Typhoon Nina, the AdeNU group was joined by some of the local town officials who thanked the ambassador for the help the Czech Republic extended. In both occasions in the towns of Ocampo and Bula, Olsǎ, a Catholic, also gifted the villages with a miniature statue of Sto. Niño de Prague for them to pray on. Elmer Sto. Domingo, CCD director, said the three villages given shelter assistance were community partners of AdeNU in their development work which included the village of Sta. Cruz in the town of San Fernando. Sto. Domingo said they initially asked the local government units for the list of families whose houses were totally destroyed by Typhoon Nina and then the students validated them which ensured that those included in the final list had actually lost their houses to the typhoon. He said through the initiative of the CCD they will also mobilize the community to undertake ‘bayanihan’ to help families rebuild their houses after the distribution of the building materials. Olsǎ, who came to AdeNU for the launching of the Bikol-translated book of Czech writer Franz Kafka on his first visit in Naga City last year, kept his contact and maintained his friendship with the academic community of the AdeNU. He said that even though he was in Prague when Typhoon Nina struck Bicol on Christmas Day last year he was communicating with Viray on the Facebook. Viray said Olsǎ was monitoring the situation in Bicol and the ambassador told him he felt sorry about the situation here and pledged to ask the Czech government for help. The AdeNU president said he asked Sto. Domingo to conduct survey of communities where the government had not been to in providing assistance for the victims of Typhoon Nina. From there, Viray said, they submitted an application to the Czech embassy seeking shelter assistance for the families whose houses were totally destroyed. “Since we have a good relation with the Ateneo de Naga when the typhoon struck and I was in Prague on my holiday, and I came to my ministry and said, okay let’s do something for those people from the region I have been, we have friends there,” Olsǎ narrated. He said his ministry approved the “small symbolic amount” of less than P2M because there will be a couple of hundreds families which will be given a new home and new hope.

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