Being a solo parent is not easy. You have to be able to balance two roles as both mother and father, and that can be very challenging.

Elsa Valenzuela, 65, raised her four children singlehandedly. She has also become the foster mother of her two grandchildren, whose parents separated when they were young. Even with one other son living with her, she is still able to support her household’s daily needs with her job as a community health worker.

Some might say they were getting by easily. But when Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) brought massive flooding in the town of Burauen, south of Tacloban City, Elsa lost everything. “When we came back, our house was gone. I couldn’t even locate the plot of land it was built on.”

Elsa, her son and her grandchildren lived in a tent for months before they were chosen as home partners of Habitat for Humanity Philippines’ core housing program. “We had no running water then, no electricity, no bathroom,” she recounts. “We had to dig a hole so we can do our business.”

Elsa, herself, participated in sweat equity, a program that aims to empower homeowners to become partners in development instead of mere recipients. Within a few months, Elsa and her family were able to move into their new home.

“Now we were able to sleep well. We’re more comfortable now, and we already have strong walls and a nice bathroom,” she said. “Best of all, my family is still complete even after Yolanda.”