March 29, 2016
A member of the worldwide Catholic charities, Caritas Internationalis, has recently turned over a newly-built disaster-resilient school to survivors of Typhoon Yolanda in Barangay Malbago, Madridejos town in Cebu.
According to Caritas Switzerland Chief Delegate to the Philippines Marcel Reymond, the Malbago Elementary School, which is one of the seven schools under its School Rehabilitation Program, could also serve as an evacuation center.
It was handed over in the presence of the Swiss Ambassador to the Philippines Andrea Reichlin.
“The rehabilitated school will serve as evacuation area if a heavy typhoon or other calamity strikes the area. Disaster risk reduction and mitigation strategies are an integral part of the rehabilitation program,” he said.
Reymond said the school has 12 newly constructed classrooms with re-furnished tables, chairs and multipurpose blackboards, which were designed in collaboration with the University of San Carlos in Cebu.
“In times of evacuation, the multipurpose blackboards can be used as separation wall inside the classrooms to provide more privacy for evacuees. During regular times they are used as shelves and for teaching,” he explained.
There is also a retrofitted computer room and principal’s office, a small canteen, a new perimeter fence, features to facilitate access for people with disabilities, a stage, and improved water and sanitation facilities.
The school, which is estimated to cost about P23.96 million (500,000 CHF) also employed 65 skilled and unskilled workers from the community. They were instructed in DRR (Disaster Risk Reduction) resilient construction techniques and are now TESDA certified.
“This would eventually pave the way for better employment opportunities in the future,” Reymond added.
Apart from these, Caritas Switzerland also conducted hygiene promotion activities for the students and taught the community to establish their own repair and maintenance program, contingency plan and evacuation plan for the school.
Malbago Elementary School, which serves as a home to a total of 500 kindergarten and elementary students, was the second completed school in the seven barangays covered by the program.
Located at the eastern coastal part of Bantayan Island, where the majority of the people rely on fishing, farming and livestock raising, the school was among the most heavily damaged by Yolanda.
Caritas Switzerland is one of the Caritas Internationalis Member Organizations present in the country and is working together with the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA)/Caritas Philippines on implementing the Catholic Church’s largest rehabilitation program for Yolanda survivors.
Students of the Malbago Elementary School welcome Swiss Ambassador Andrea Reichlin during the turnover of their new school building cum evacuation center. Photo Credit: NASSA/Caritas Philippines
Students happily expressed their thanks to Caritas Switzerland for its new school building. Photo Credit: NASSA/Caritas Philippines
Chief Delegate to the Philippines
JING REY HENDERSON