Robert Gacita happily hammered away at the freshly-sawn lumber for his family’s new home. He was also set to receive one of 20 fishing boats for their new fishermen’s cooperative. These would give his family a chance to rebuild their lives.

The construction of new houses and the provision of new boats are part of Operation Blessing’s Community of Hope project in Barangay Pagnamitan, one of the coastal communities most badly hit by Typhoon Yolanda.

The storm surge not only took the lives of people, it also destroyed their homes and livelihood. The fishing industry of Pagnamitan was completely paralyzed when the storm surge swallowed and shattered all the fishing boats in the village.

Robert and his family almost got trapped by floods inside their home. After Yolanda, he sent his family to Roxas City for safety, to keep them from reliving the trauma.

Lacking resources to visit or bring home his family, Robert was unable to spend Christmas and New Year with them. With the new house and fishing boat coming, the family would be reunited.

The 20 fishing boats the cooperative would receive are bigger than the ones they used, and were built by Yolanda survivors from Western Samar tapped by Operation Blessing. “These boats are to be used initially by the cooperative. Costs are to be paid back by the group in easy repayment schemes. This would allow them to work productively and give the cooperative the opportunity to acquire more boats in the future and continue to grow,” Harvey Flores, OB Disaster Response Coordinator, explains. Operation Blessing will also conduct seminars teaching fishermen how to manage their cooperative, their resources, and finances.

“What you gave me and my community is a big blessing from God. I pray that more people will be helped.” Robert said gratefully in Filipino.