Caritas Aims to Rebuild Houses for Mudslide Victims

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 23, 2006 ( A month after a landslide buried a village on Leyte Island in the Philippines, Caritas Internationalis is working to rebuild the destroyed houses.

On Feb. 17, a gigantic landslide, caused by the partial collapse of a mountain, buried the village of Guinsaugon, near the city of St. Bernard; other surrounding villages were seriously damaged.

The slide covered hundreds of buildings in mud, 10 meters (nearly 33 feet) thick in some places.

About 200 pupils and 40 teachers were buried under the torrent of rock, mud and debris in the village schoolhouse.

Caritas, the Catholic confederation of aid organizations, estimated that more than 1,000 died in the tragedy.

Caritas-Philippines worked alongside government and other agencies to bring relief to the victims, including food, blankets, water and shelter.

Most of the aid was gathered from local donors and distributed by NASSA, as Caritas is known in the Philippines. NASSA is now working toward getting the homeless back into permanent homes.

NASSA plans on building 150 duplex houses to accommodate 300 families. Nearly 2,000 families are now living in temporary shelters.

About $400,000 in relief aid has already been received. Caritas is trying to raise another $600,000.

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