It was the evening of Christmas eve. Jomel and his family - his wife, daughter and in-laws were quietly eating their supper - rice and fish cooked in vinegar with onions. They had just finished eating when Lester Joy, Jomel’s mother, called to ask how Jomel and his family were doing and what their ‘noche buena’ was. He said that they had had a simple meal as there was no money to buy anything special for ‘noche buena’ but that they were happy to be all together on Christmas eve. She then asked if they were feeling the effects of typhoon Ursula. There was news that a strong typhoon would hit the country on or before Christmas day. Jomel said no, their place was quiet; there was no wind nor rain.
At 5 AM on Christmas day however Jomel and his family were woken up by a howling wind and driving rain. Later on a loud noise came from above; it was their tin roofing being blown away. They sought refuge in a neighbour’s house next door and stayed there until midday at which time the wind and rain subsided. When they came out, they saw for themselves that they had lost their roof! Jomel looked around and was able to salvage some of the tin sheets. He nailed these down to the rafters above and used a canvass as well just to have a temporary roofing.
Jomel, now 23, is the eldest among of Lester Joy’s three sons and her estranged husband Antonio. She happens to be a PSHF field worker in Bacolod on the neighbouring island of Negros. Jomel met his wife Angelyn (25) when he went to Aklan five or six years ago to find work. They were married three years ago and have one child Quency Jane (2). They live in the small quiet town of Numancia in Aklan, in the house of Angelyn’s mother and her stepfather. Until that fateful morning, Jomel was earning a small income from doing free-lance online jobs whereas Angelyn was teaching high school (grade 7 and 12) in a local vocational school. She is paid 4,500 pesos a month which is just enough to pay for basic living expenses. Her mother makes a small income from making palm shingles for sale and her stepfather does sharecropping work in the village.
The family is now living in a makeshift house and there are no extra funds to have it repaired. Jomel is very keen to put it back it together and so he asked us for funding assistance. He has some carpentry skills and so all he will need is money to buy housing materials such as tin sheets, plywood, bamboo and nails.
Jomel is a hardworking young man. For three or four years, he toiled in the construction industry in order to send his younger brother Jan Lester to college. Last year he became tired of construction work and decided to train in on-line work. He took out a loan of 15,000 pesos from the PSHF to pay for his training fee as well as his internet connection. Jan Lester, to express his gratitude to his brother for his earlier help, is the one paying back this loan.
The PSHF would like to help Jomel by providing him with the funds to enable him to buy housing materials and to pay for his internet subscription fee so that he can get back to work. The typhoon destroyed power lines in the town and so there was no electricity for about three weeks, hence Jomel was not able to work. He is most thankful for this assistance.
Bernadette G. Togado