From Matchbox Shack to Sturdy New Home

By Babylene Bocayes, Philippines Field Content Specialist, and Rhea Juson, Philippines Program Advisor for Visayas Region   |  Photos by Rhea Juson

A family of eight in the Philippines, devastated at losing their home in a super typhoon, breathes a sigh of relief when OneChild steps in to provide funds for them and other families in poverty to build new, sturdier homes.

A Child Champion checks on the status of Jovie and his family, who had patched together a shack to live in after their home (pictured at the top of the page) was destroyed by a typhoon.

The day after Dec. 16, 2021, when the devastating Typhoon Rai (locally named Odette) battered the island of Cebu in the Philippines, residents of affected communities scrambled to gather pieces of scrap materials like wood, iron sheets, and bamboo to build temporary shelters they could sleep in at night.

The Category 5 super typhoon brought torrential rains, violent winds, landslides, and dangerous storm surges in the provinces of Surigao del Norte and Dinagat Islands in Mindanao, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency. More than 1.5 million people were affected, many losing homes and possessions, the agency reports.

Jovie Sabroso, the father of sponsored children Christian, 10, Jovic, 8, and Vincent, 6, recalled the day the typhoon hit.

A child plays on some of the lumber Jovie purchased to build his family’s new home.

“The wind was strong, and we can feel our house shaking. We were so scared. The children were all crying,” he says. His family of eight lives in Bunga, Cebu, where more than 700 registered kids of OneChild were affected.

Before the typhoon hit, Jovie decided to move his family to their neighbor’s sturdier house for refuge. There were already six families in there soaking wet, crying, and shaking with fear. No one slept that night.

The following day, Jovie returned to their house and saw that it was demolished. Other houses around them were also gone.

“I was sad, we do not have a house anymore,” he says. “I do not know where we will stay.”

So, he decided to gather whatever pieces of their house that remained to build a temporary shelter.

Jovie, his wife Jenesa, and friends pray inside the house that Jovie built.

“It was hard to rebuild the house because I could not buy even a piece of nail,” Jovie says. “So, I used rusty ones that came from the wood scraps.” In two days, he was able to patch together a small, temporary shelter. Having a house of their own is important to him, even if it’s small.

His wife Jenesa, 29, says she nearly lost hope when their home was destroyed.

“We don’t know where to go,” she says. “All our clothes are wet.”

She’s thankful that Happy Horizons Children’s Ranch, a partner of OneChild where she works as a cook, allowed families like theirs to stay there. They received food, clothes, and temporary shelter.

“I feel relieved that they gave us clothes and wood. I felt that God did not abandon us,” Jenesa says.

Jovie and Janesa and their children are grateful for the funds that OneChild provided so that they could build a sturdy new home.

OneChild used emergency funds to provide families with basic food and hygiene supplies. OneChild also released funds for rebuilding houses.

Jovie, a carpenter, immediately bought lumber, plywood, and metal roof sheets and constructed their new house.

“We are thankful to OneChild and to the sponsors for giving us materials to rebuild our house. It is really a big help to us,” Jenesa says.

Now they no longer have to endure sleeping in a matchbox-like house because they have a bigger, sturdier, and safer place to call home.

Help families like Jovie’s get the supplies they need to rebuild their home by donating to the Children’s Crisis Fund.

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