The last thing I expected when I arrived at work Wednesday morning was to see the community behind our center covered in flames and thick smoke. That was the horrifying sight I witnessed – the entire Napacor community reduced to rubble by a fire that engulfed all of the homes in less than an hour. Napacor is one of three urban poor communities we serve at IT Tender.

Thank God each family is safe and nobody was seriously hurt. People of all ages live in this community, from infants to the elderly, and the fact that everyone avoided serious injury is nothing short of a miracle. Imagine multiple levels of shanties tumbling down within minutes of the fire spreading. Most of the families lost everything and are literally without shelter, food and clothing.

Since the need is immediate, we are already purchasing items for “relief kits” that we will give to each family, as we trust God will provide the funds we need.

If you are moved to give, donations can be sent through our secure, online site here ( https://iteams.ca/give/it-tender/ ) – just click “IT Tender Ministries” as the designation in the drop-down menu and inform John Coffey (john.coffey@iteams.ca) if you have sent a donation.

A relief kit costs $100 and provides all of the following for a family:
-food (rice, canned goods, noodles)
-cooking utensils and dishes
-sleeping mats
-blankets, pillows
-sandals
-hygiene supplies (soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, detergent, dish washing liquid)
-simple clothes
-bags

Thank you for your support and prayers for the families that survived the fire. Here at IT Tender we will walk through this tragedy with the families. We will show them God is using people to help them pick up the pieces and get back on their feet. This week, several families are staying at our drop-in center as they literally have no homes. They are grateful for a place to sleep, bathe, keep their family safe and prepare to start over. Since all of the 50 families cannot fit in our center, others are being given temporary shelter at night at a local public school and at a nearby funeral home.

The government will soon be giving each of the families some money to cover renting a room for a couple months. Beyond that though, there will be no organized relocation, and families will have to find their own place to live. They will not be able to return to the Napacor community as they do not legally own that land (they have been squatting there on government property around the base of an electric tower). We expect that some will now squat under the overpass near our center while others will move to other squatter communities in our area. A few families may move to other provinces in the Philippines where they have relatives, but most will likely stay nearby.

We do not know the exact cause of the fire and we may never know. The timing of the fire is curious, as the community was told their homes would be demolished this year and they would be relocated. The promise of the current president is that whenever a squatter community is demolished there will be an organized relocation to a new area. However, in the case of a fire, there is less pressure or responsibility for the government to provide housing for those affected. The reality also is that the city is so overpopulated that if the government would have relocated them it would have been to somewhere outside the city. If a formal demolishing and relocation happened, most of the families would still choose to stay and squat in the city because they rely on jobs here (e.g., construction work, selling goods in the street, driving jeepneys, etc). Nevertheless, we have been informed that there will be no formal relocation, and we will do our best to assist the families as they relocate themselves to various nearby areas.

Please continue to pray for the families affected by the fire. Pray also for the staff of IT Tender, for strength and wisdom to provide practical help and to give hope for these families looking to us for guidance and encouragement.

Thank you for your support and prayers.

John Coffey
Director of IT Tender

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