Roldan the builder

Despite the brilliant sunshine, a small village in Sigma, Capiz province, is flooded. It’s the monsoon season again, and Roldan Bunda’s home can only be reached by boat.

Roldan, 35, gives a broad smile as he welcomes us to his home. He lives with his parents. He has never walked. He says that at the age of just eight months, he repeatedly suffered from fever and was soon diagnosed with poliomyelitis. Since then, his legs have been stunted and paralysed.

Although he had to interrupt his education several times, Roldan has never given up.

“I observed carpenters at work in the village since I was a little boy,” Roldan says. “When I was 13 years old, I built a henhouse from scratch. I also received my high school diploma when I was 25 years old. It made the front page of the school newspaper. I was so happy.”

Roldan Bunda, 35, survived Haiyan and helped rebuild his family's house. © Till Mayer / Handicap International
Roldan Bunda, 35, survived Haiyan and helped rebuild his family’s house. © Till Mayer / Handicap International

On 8 November 2013, when typhoon Haiyan hit Capiz, Roldan’s home was swept away by the flood. The family fled to the hills.

After a few months of being in temporary shelters, the Bundas finally built a new house with financial support from Handicap International.

According to Reconstruction Project Officer Benoit Bargeas, Roldan’s family received equipment and financial support to help them rebuild their homes (205 other households in Capiz did, too).

And Roldan played his part.

“I wanted to avoid any extra expense, so I built the roof of the house’s extension,” he says, “and I’m now building the framework for the annex.”

Roldan and his carabao, Pogi © Till Mayer / Handicap International
Roldan and his carabao, Pogi © Till Mayer / Handicap International

Benoit says that some of the shelter project’s beneficiaries buy the equipment they need and do the work themselves, but others bring in local carpenters.

“The houses are made of mahogany, bamboo, and coconut timber,” Benoit adds. “They are solid, durable, and perfectly adapted to the surrounding environment.”

Roldan shows us his home. Stunned, we look at him as he skillfully climbs the house’s corner posts and as he stops on the house’s roof. For him, climbing the house is mere child’s play.

But carpentry is not the only activity Roldan does. “Every day I work at the rice paddies with my carabao, Pogi,” he explains, stroking the animal.

Roldan’s father interjects: “He helps us a lot. Last week, it rained for three days. We could only bring in 12 sacks of rice instead of 20. If things don’t improve, we’ll be in real trouble.”

“But we have a home,” he adds, pensive, “and Roldan’s strength spurs us on.”

More Haiyan survivors still need your help to rebuild their homes and get their livelihoods back on track. Support them now »
Banner photo © Till Mayer / Handicap International

Handicap International is an independent and impartial international aid organization working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster.

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