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Fire victims appeal for help to rebuild homes

Conita Dubria was carrying her four-month-old daughter while lining up for relief goods last Friday at the covered court of the Barangay Pinyahan in Quezon City.

Since the huge fire on NIA Road left her family homeless last Dec. 27, Dubria, a mother of seven, said the covered basketball court has been serving as their temporary home which they share with 548 other families.

The rest of the 1,000 families who lost their homes has been sleeping in sidewalks along NIA Road or staying at their relatives near the area.

The fire, believed caused by a gas leak from a pump stove, claimed the life of a 74-year-old woman.

Dubria, 47, said they had been living in one of the fire-damaged shanties on the National Housing Authority (NHA)-owned land on NIA Road for more than 20 years.

Her husband, who was not with her during the interview, works as a porter in Divisoria, Manila, earning a measly R200 a day.

At the time of the interview, Dubria said her 24-year-old eldest child was at the ruins on NIA Road, collecting scraps of metal or whatever they could sell for additional income.

She said they have been working overtime to earn enough to build their new home in the same spot at the slums community.

“Gusto na naming magpatayo, pero wala man kami pambili ng gamit. Kaya hingi sana kami ng tulong na mabigyan kami kahit papaano ng pantayo ng bahay. Kahit tabing-tabing,” Dubria said.

While cradling her baby, Dubria was also guiding three of her children at a line outside the evacuation center for goodies distributed by the Quezon City Police District for kids. The children were given sandals, hygiene kits and even toys, and candies.

Other media institutions, politicians, and non-government organizations had also donated relief goods – rice, canned good, and clothes, among others – for the fire-affected families.

Dubria said the donations, in any way, are a great help, having lost all their belongings.

For those in the evacuation center, a water truck, carrying liters of potable water, was parked outside for their use. Social workers from the Quezon City Social Services Department have been providing meals round the clock.

Two portalets, donated by a Chinese foundation, also stood outside for their personal necessities.

Barangay captain Jesus Lipnica Jr. said the evacuees could stay here for two weeks more, enough time for them to rebuild their houses.

Relocation has yet to be considered, according to Lipnica.

“Wala pa namang pag-uusap. Sa ngayon, balik muna sila. Pero ang NHA, kung gusto nila magpa-relocate, pwede naman, dahil kanila yung lupa,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dubria said their first concern is how to send their children to school when classes resume tomorrow.

“Wala nga sila uniform, humihingi kami ng tulong, pambili ng uniform,” she said. (VANNE TERRAZOLA)