For most of Archie’s life, he lived with his parents and nine siblings in a one-roomed house beside the Plaridel River in the province of Bulacan, an area prone to flooding and typhoons.
“Our roof had holes in it. So when it rained, it was like we were having a shower,” he said as he explained that whenever strong rains hit, the houses had to be evacuated for higher ground.
Now 19, Archie experienced severe flooding three times, including September 2009’s Super Typhoon Ondoy.
“After this typhoon, our house looked like it had been torn apart by a wild beast. Mud covered every wall and corner, the plywood walls were dismantled, the roof was gone and the posts were bent.”
In August 2012, an emergency resettlement program supported by Caritas Australia helped Archie and his family resettle into permanent and secure housing away from the flood prone river.
“We are now confident and secure in the knowledge that we will not be devastated again by natural disaster,” said Archie. “We are so much happier.”
Through the program, Archie’s mum learnt to make bags and he learnt to make candles which they sell to earn an income. But, as he left school halfway through his first year to assist his family, what he’s most excited about is studying under Caritas Australia’s Alternative Learning System and increasing his future prospects.
“Caritas Australia has changed our lives. We are so thankful and happy that we are living in a safe community. We have confidence because we feel secure and supported. The Caritas Australia program has increased our sense of pride and self-esteem.”
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