“Build Change is doing an excellent job because not only they are helping with better construction quality but is also helping us to acquire knowledge through their training that will certainly help us in the future.”Lems Tressie

On January 12, 2010, Lems Tressie was at work when suddenly, the earth began to shake. He recalled, “I witnessed houses collapsing, people running and a supermarket that was across from the gas station, crumbling to the ground.”

“One of the walls enclosing the gas station collapsed, burying several people who had been standing there only a of couple seconds earlier. I started helping dig them out of the rubble out when I saw her. It was this old nice lady, who had been selling things next to the gas station for years. She took her last breath right there in my arms,” Lems said with sadness in his eyes.

He went home to find his family and found their home had largely collapsed. “Thank God,” he exclaimed, “my wife and son were both alive!”

“We spent three days on a square of empty land at Saint Mary’s church,” Lems shared. “I didn’t enjoy being around people who clearly did not know proper hygiene. My family and I decided to go back home.”

A couple of friends helped him to clear out the rubble and with the little money he had left, he bought timber and metal sheets to enclose the house. “A couple months after the disaster, Cordaid promised to help repair a part of my house and rebuild the other. I lost hope after a year passed without further activity. But then, I received a call from an engineer at Build Change explaining to me that I was about to receive an aid package. He talked about what he was thinking of doing to my house. However, nothing was said about the rebuilding part,” Lems said.

Lems was invited by Build Change to take part in training sessions made specially to inform homeowners about better construction and what rules should be followed in order to build an earthquake-resistant house. As part of Build Change’s intervention on Lems’ house, the roof was removed, a wall was torn down and rebuilt, a new wall was built to close off the bathroom, and a column and ring beam were added. “The rental part of my house is completely repaired and a renter has already moved in. I hope now that the reconstruction of the part that I live in will start soon so that we can finally move in. Living in a tent with the extreme heat has caused health problems for my son,” he sighed.

“I’m thankful to Build Change and its engineers, for if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have been able to have the renter’s portion of the house be safe and respect all the earthquake-resistant standards,” he said.

“Build Change is doing an excellent job because not only they are helping with better construction quality but also helping us to acquire knowledge through training that will certainly help in the future,” concluded Lems.