Local partner Gawad Kalinga and the JTI Foundation are helping to improve the quality of life of poor communities in the Philippines by building two new settlements that will house more than 60 families. These JTI Foundation GK Villages are located in the typhoon-prone provinces of Pangasinan and Ilocos Sur.

Besides offering space and comfort, the new homes are sited and specially constructed to withstand extreme weather conditions. The effectiveness of their design was dramatically proven in 2009 when Typhoon Parma struck Pangasinan, flooding 90 percent of the region. The houses resisted the storm, protected the families inside, and were used as evacuation centers for displaced persons from the surrounding countryside.

Residents were enthusiastic about the project from the start. "Our lives improved greatly when we came here," one notes. "We're safe now and we help each other like brothers and sisters... There is a true sense of community."

The project team continues to help the local communities to improve their livelihoods by raising cattle and goats. There are plans to sink a deep well to ensure safe water, set up a village store to make medicines and other essentials available locally, and even to construct a village school.

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