Woman in Philippines makes Shingles out of Nipa LeavesBy Stacey Panozzo

Mary and I sat on the ground outside her new home, surrounded by lush green nipa leaves and bamboo sticks. I watched as she skillfully combined these natural materials, weaving them together just as if she were sewing, to produce a nipa shingle.

Nipa housing is an icon of rural Filipino culture. Nipa shingles are commonly used for roofing on houses and sheds. Over time the shingles deteriorate and are replaced, creating a natural demand and a source of livelihood for many families, including Mary and Arthur.

In a single day Mary can make up to 200 nipa shingles. She and her husband can sell these for 700 pesos. With the cost of raw materials, they are left with just 335 pesos per day to support their family with food, clothing and education. Their income falls well below the local minimum daily wage (245 pesos per person).

When Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the Philippines, Mary and Arthur’s home was totally destroyed, along with their source of livelihood. Severe winds and flooding wiped out much of the nipa palm plantations and it took 6 months before the nipa palms grew back. Mary and Arthur struggled to survive. During this time they had no home and no means of livelihood to rebuild, living in a makeshift hut made from salvaged materials.

Mary by her ADRA HouseADRA Philippines understands how interconnected a family’s home and livelihood are. By addressing a family’s need for a new home, we are greatly alleviating their financial burden. Today Mary, Arthur and their children live in a newly built home thanks to construction materials and carpentry assistance provided by ADRA’s Shelter Recovery Program. “Without ADRA’s help we would not have a home”, Mary shared. “ADRA gave a big help!”

Mary and her family are part of more than 4,000 families in the Capiz and Iloilo Provinces receiving assistance through ADRA Philippines Shelter and Livelihood Recovery Programs following Typhoon Yolanda. Families have received various support, including shelter construction materials, carpentry assistance and cash-for-work to support them in rebuilding their lives.

Checkout this video clip where Mary demonstrates how to make a Nipa Shingle.