Meet Roldan: The carpenter that wears his shoes on his hands

  • Emergency
  • Philippines
Roldan 's home was swept away by the storm-surge during Typhoon Haiyan. His family fled to the hills and now live in a new home. The house, which is only accessible by boat, was built with equipment and financial assistance provided by Handicap International.


Roldan outside his new home. The Philippines.
Roldan outside his new home. The Philippines.
Roldan outside his new home. The Philippines.

A keen carpenter, it is perhaps no surprise that Roldan built the roof of the extension and is currently building the framework for an annex. However, what is remarkable, is that Roldan does all this despite the fact that he has never walked as his legs are paralysed.

The stunting and paralysis of his legs was caused by a condition called poliomyelitis, which he developed after a fever when he was eight-months-old.

Growing up, Roldan looked up to the carpenters in his village and was keen to learn the trade. “I have observed the carpenters at work in the village since I was a little boy. When I was 13 years old, I built a henhouse from scratch. I also passed my high school leaving diploma when I was 25 years old. It made the front page of the school newspaper. I was so happy,” he explains.

In order to build their new home, Roldan’s family, along with 205 other households in Panay, received equipment and financial support from Handicap International. Some families build their own homes, whilst other bring in local carpenters.

The houses are made of mahogany, bamboo and the wood from coconut trees. They are solid, durable and perfectly adapted to the surrounding environment.

Roldan's strength spurs us on

Roldan is not just a carpenter. “Every day I work the rice paddies with my buffalo Pogy,” he explains, stroking the animal. His father adds, “He helps us out a lot. Last week it rained for three days. We could only bring in 12 sacks out of 20. If things don’t improve, we’ll be in real trouble. But we have a home, and Roldan’s strength spurs us all on.”

Published 11/11/14

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