Volunteers and homeowners dig the foundation of a Habitat house in Paranaque in late 1998. The house was one of seven built by Metro Manila HFH as a practice build for the 1999 Jimmy Carter Work Project.
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Just off one of the Manila metro area's busiest highways sits a quarter-acre snuggled amid middle-income neighborhoods.

By the end of this week -- JCWP '99 -- that small parcel of land will be the new home of 30 families.

But this week is just the start. By the end of the year, 100 families will live in Habitat for Humanity-built rowhouses on the site.

The development, one of six in the Philippines where JCWP volunteers are laboring today, is called Villa Sagrada Pamilya, located within the city of Paranaque.

Geographically, Paranaque is to Manila what Brooklyn is to New York City. Both lie about 10 miles south of the metropolis' downtown skyscrapers. Both are densely populated.

The area's scarcity of available land led organizers to build rowhouses at Villa Sagrada Pamilya rather than the single-family, detached homes Habitat for Humanity normally undertakes.

Like other JCWP building projects in the Philippines, the one in Paranque is the result of a partnership. Local parish priests, a family association, a philanthropic foundation and the Greater Manila Habitat for Humanity all are playing important roles in building the 235-square-foot units with the families.

But the work at Villa Sagrada Pamilya doesn't stop with JCWP.

Parish efforts include a job-placement and job-training services for residents. Also, a multipurpose cooperative is being established to help the families start their own businesses. Homeowners are also organizing a savings-and-loan.

It all points to a more hopeful future for the development's families, whose breadwinners typically toil as laborers, tricycle drivers or factory workers earning the minimum wage of US$4.75 per day. Some families selected for Paranaque rowhouse have as many as eight children and dream of sending them to college.

Return to Wednesday's 1999 JCWP Report

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