The Greatest Gift

Meravic Nalang and her family were no strangers to moving from one place to another.  Her husband’s job as a pastor meant they would move 18 times in the last couple of years, mostly staying in a parsonage or renting a space.

“Way back 2014, it was in my prayer list to have a house for my children because constantly moving was really hard for me. Then I heard from Joel of CSC that they would have a housing project with Habitat. As a CSC counselor, I was so happy and grateful to be chosen as one of the beneficiaries.”

With the promise of a new home, things were supposed to get easier for Meravic’s family. The plan was to stay in their family’s ancestral house while building their new home in CSC but the owners did not allow them to. They had no choice but to ask their friends for a place to stay. One friend responded that they could stay in his coffin shop, if they wanted.  “We stayed in the coffin shop for two years. Then the owner told us that they already needed to use the space because they were planning to start a retreat house.”

Homeless but far from losing hope, Meravic’s family thought of constructing a makeshift house in front of the coffin shop using scrapped materials like tarpaulins, galvanized iron sheets, and plywood. Their resourcefulness paved the way for a temporary shelter. “Whenever it would rain, our books and clothes would get wet. It forced us to burn 80% of our things because we could not use them anymore. The area was also prone to flooding. We could not sleep well at night because the ants would pester us.”

Their circumstances though did not dampen their spirit but instead boosted their motivation to work and finish their home.  “I encouraged my kids to work hard (when we had to participate in sweat equity) because this home will eventually be theirs… We worked even on our rest days, holidays, (and) summer breaks.”

Years of hard work, dedication, and patience paid off. Meravic and her family finally reaped the fruit of their labor—a decent home of their own—away from risks, hazards, and eviction. Those days of distress and uncertainty are nothing but part of a memory and a history to tell their grandchildren. “This is the greatest gift I’ve ever had…We sleep (better) now… When (we leave work)… we’re proud to say that we’re going home and it’s ours.”