NUEVA VALENCIA, Guimaras – In November 2013, this four-classroom school on the remote island of Guiwanon in Guimaras did not escape the devastation of Typhoon Yolanda, one of the world’s strongest typhoons on record. Roof panels were torn off the building of Unisan Multigrade School, exposing a good portion of one of its classrooms.
We’re in a difficult situation, teacher Ligaya P. dela Cruz said: “’Pag nagkaklase ako, nagtuturo ako, mahirap kapag umuulan. Inuurong ko ‘yung mga bata (When we hold classes, we struggle when it rains. I move the children).” While efforts to repair Yolanda’s damages were underway elsewhere, students of Sitio Unisan had to wait longer for aid, and in the meantime, bear the inconvenience of having a hole over their heads for more than a year.
Help finally came when CheckMySchool (CMS) Guimaras visited the school in February 2015. Volunteers identified building repair as one of the school’s most urgent needs, in addition to water supply, electricity, toilet, and Internet connection. CMS chapter coordinators and members elevated the issue to the Municipal Government of Nueva Valencia, which then committed to provide funds to repair the school. (Update: According to a CMS chapter coordinator report, repairs of the typhoon-damaged classroom and two other classrooms were already completed. A one-story, two-classroom building and a restroom were also built at Unisan Multigrade School.)
Knowing that her students will no longer have to cram on one side of the room during rain made Teacher Ligaya smile with tears. More than anything, she’s glad to learn that their call for help did not fall on deaf ears this time. Barangay Guiwanon where Unisan Multigrade School is located is an hour’s boat ride from the town proper.
“Hindi po nila makita dahil napakalayo ng school namin pero sa ngayon makikita nila na ganito pala ang hitsura ng building namin (They cannot see our situation here because our school is very far, but now they can see what our school is like),” she said. CheckMySchool volunteer Loreto Gandecela Jr. found the outcome gratifying, saying that their purpose really is to help – not expecting anything in return. “Sinasabi ko sa sarili ko na kahit volunteer lang kami, pero kung hindi kami mag-vovolunteer, sino’ng gagawa (I tell myself that even though we are just volunteers, if we won’t volunteer, who will)?” he said.
Edited by Karol Ilagan