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    Posted April 2, 2014 by
    PantawidSMU
    Location
    Philippines

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    Learning in tents

     
    Schools are children’s second home. It is in school where they discover new things, develop their skills, unleash their potentials, and strive to achieve their dreams. But what if both their house and school got destroyed? Should it stop them from learning and dreaming?

    For the children of Bantayan Island, it should not. On the morning of November 8, 2013, Typhoon Yolanda made its fourth landfall on this island in Northern Cebu, leaving 253 schools damaged or about 90 percent of the total number of schools in the area. The typhoon may have ravaged the schools, but not the importance of education to the Bantayanons.

    Bayanihan in Bantayan
    As the local and national government respond to the disaster with the help of various international humanitarian aids, the residents of the three municipalities of Bantayan Island started picking up the broken pieces and assembling them together.

    Ma. Argeline Adlaon, a Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program Parent Leader, is just one among the hundreds of parents who did their own initiative of reconstructing some of the dilapidated classrooms. According to her, they decided to help in repairing the schools as they do not want their kids to be discouraged by the effects of the disaster.

    "Pantawid Pamilya taught us the importance of education that is why we decided to help in rebuilding schools so that our children can already attend their classes. Even if they hold classes in a tent, it is all right as long as they can study again,” said Argeline.

    Makeshift classrooms
    Two months after the storm, classes resumed in Bantayan Island, but not to how it was. What used to be the school quadrangle became the cradle of makeshift classrooms.

    There are 9,280 (as of December 2013) household beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilya in Bantayan Island, most of them with children going to school.

    Amelita Espinosa, a substitute teacher in Okoy Elementary School, shared that the children were very sad after they saw what happened to their school. But despite this, they are still enthusiastic to go back to school. These children are also did their share in helping the school by drying the pages of their books under the sun.

    Many of Teacher Amelita’s students are beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilya, and they are the ones who are very excited to go back to school.

    Eight-year old Judith Mhar Quijano lost her home to Yolanda, but going back to school and being safe after the typhoon are more important to her. She shared that her family is thankful not only to Pantawid Pamilya for the continued support, but to those who gave her and her classmates new school supplies as well.

    "We are happy that we are safe after the typhoon and that we have new school supplies,” Judith said.

    The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), through its flagship social protection program Pantawid Pamilya, sees the importance of education in fighting the intergenerational cycle of poverty.

    DSWD Secretary Corazon Soliman said, “It is very positive to see that the children beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilya are enthusiastic to go back to school after the typhoon. Despite the disaster, these children were not discouraged to start studying again, in fact, they even find school therapeutic.”

    The school buildings and classrooms in Bantayan Island will be rehabilitated soon. Houses will be built again. Lives will be back to normal. But there is no other powerful sign of recovery than the dynamism and willingness of the children to learn. Their positivity will always be there, and no typhoon can ever wash it away.

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