When you lose everything in a cyclone such as SuperTyphoon Yolanda you are faced with the immediate crises of what to eat, where to sleep and what to wear. But what about seven (7) months on when school resumes. Has there been any relief at all?
School year in the Philippines is from June to March so when Yolanda occurred kids still had four months of school left. Some schools were so damaged that classes ceased completely, others used makeshift shelters gifted from NGO’s such as World Vision and UNICEF. Many schools resorted to split classes ie, because there were not enough undamaged classrooms, student’s classes were split in half so each student could attend at least some school. More importantly parents had paid their yearly fees so the kids could keep attending what little classes remained.
Ok let’s think seven (7) months on and school resumes. Yolanda has taken their books, clothes, toys, sports equipment, school bags and now they must return to school. Yolanda has taken their parent’s income and livelihood so how do they prepare their child for school (especially high school where the kids need notebooks, pens, paper, school bag, calculator and other stationery.
Parents become so overwhelmed by all these immediate costs many children are pulled out of school completely.
So on Thursday (May 29th), I had the privilege of accompanying Matt Kennedy while he handed out new backpacks and school supplies to Elementary and High school students living in temporary housing at the Bunkhouses in Barangay Go Go, Estancia.
The funds for this project came directly from Tito Matt donors. Matt operates a fund raising website www.titomatt.com and, similar t this website uses funds from private donors to support Yolanda victims living the provinces of Estancia, Iloilo.
Matt had met with local government officials as well as former residents of the tent city now relocated to bunkhouses in Go Go. Their need was obvious and immediate. By the time I reached Estancia on May 15, Matt had already made preparations to deliver much needed school and stationery supplies.
This is the first project in which Matt and I have collaborates our funds and expertise and it was great to be reunited with the families (especially the kids) of the tent city whom I had not seen for some months.
Former Vice Mayor of Estancia Rowena Placencia was very popular in donating a whole vat of icecream while supporters of my aid work supplied drinks and snacks.
© 2014 Melinda Irvine
Photos courtesy of Matt Kennedy