It’s that time of the year again, the summer has come to end which means it back to school for children all across the Philippines. YPDR joined forces with three elementary schools last week in support of Brigada Eskwela 2014 before school starts June 2.
Brigada Eskwela is an annual weeklong program recognized across the Philippines to get all public elemetary and high schools cleaned up, repaired and readied for the start of a new school year. This year, in light of the damage caused by Super Typhoon Yolanda last November, schools focused on disaster education and preparedness.
YPDR staff members started their week off volunteering at Pooc Elementary School which kicked off their Brigada Eskwela with a musical parade and disaster awareness program for the community. Each of the teachers got up and offered tips on what the people of Bantayan Island can do so they are prepared before various types of disasters hit and what they can do during and after to keep themselves and their families safe. YPDR representative Malia White got up as well and gave a short presentation on the key role that education plays when it comes to being ready for disasters like Typhoon Yolanda when they hit.
The next few days at Pooc were spent along side teachers and parent volunteers deep cleaning classrooms. Small wooden chairs and desks were washed and cleared of cob webs while walls and floors were scrubbed clean using small cloth rags and water pulled from the community well.
Our next stop was Central Madridejos Elementary School, which is the third biggest on the island. Our radio show Deejay, Coco Jay, who is also the PTA president, invited here for a day. So we hopped in the truck and took a scenic ride to the other side of the island. Although we were here for just a day, YPDR, was still able to make an impact by giving the walls in their school clinic a good wipe down before they were given a fresh coat of white paint.
For the last day of Eskewla Brigada, the crew came together for some heavy lifting. The day was hot and the cardboard boxes full of text books were heavy but everyone still managed to have a goodtime, cracking jokes and laughing as boxes flew from one pair of hands to the next, making their way down a line starting first from the school storage room the back of our big, red, YPDR truck then from the truck to one of Bantayan Elementary School classrooms.
Currently YPDR’s focus is on building homes for those who lost theirs to Yolanda over six months ago, many people on Bantayan island are still living in tents or make-shift shacks. Our NGO finds that rebuilding these people’s homes is our priority but still, it felt good to take a step in a different direction last week and join the community we live in to help get the schools ready for the children who will be arriving and ready to learn next week. It was a privilege to work along side the teachers and parent volunteers who demonstrated their understanding for the importance of education through their hard work and dedication to preparing the schools. As an NGO we are so lucky to be located on an island with such kind and hard working people.
A big thanks to Pooc, Central Madridejos and Bantayan elementary schools for inviting us to your week of Brigada Eskwela and an even bigger good luck to all of Bantayan’s kids who are returning to school this week, we hope you have a great year!