Myra (not her real name) is a grade 4 student at Nannarian Elementary School, one of the schools in the Philippines badly hit by typhoon Haima (locally known as ‘Lawin’). Her school is located in the municipality of Peñablanca, ground zero of typhoon Haima.
She lives with her father and two younger brothers in a small house in a remote village in the town of Peñablanca. Their village is located near a huge river, which overflowed during the peak of typhoon Haima. Their house was made of light materials like plywood, coco lumber, and galvanized iron sheets. Her father is a carpenter and a farmer. When carpentry jobs are not available, her father tends the farm of a wealthy landlord to make ends meet. He grows corn and rice, the common agricultural products in their place.
Myra’s mother works overseas as a domestic worker in Qatar. Though she has been away from her family for five years now, Myra said they still experience hardships in life despite the remittances from her mother. Myra’s mother comes home only every two years.
Myra knows how hard their life is. That’s why she studies well, helps her father take care of her younger brothers, and does household chores like cooking rice, and sweeping floor and their yards.
Myra likes to draw cars and buildings during her free time at school and at home. She aspires to be a teacher someday so that she can help children by teaching them how to read and count.
After the distribution of back-to-school kits
“That night before the typhoon made landfall, I was at home with my father, and Charles and Mark (her two younger brothers). We know that a typhoon was coming. We heard about it over the radio and from the village officials who asked us to evacuate to a safe place. We just stayed at home,” she recalled.
“There were strong winds and rain. I could hear the howling sound of the wind. I was frightened when it peeled off our roof, and the rainwater started pouring in. Our roof was made of GI sheets (galvanized iron sheets). Then, our wall also started to loosen. The wall was made of plywood. The wind and rain was so strong.”
“We evacuated to the chapel building when our roof and wall were damaged. Father (the priest) told us to get our things, and transfer to the chapel immediately. The chapel was packed with families from our neighborhood. I saw my classmates there, and their parents, too.”
“We just stayed at the chapel until the next morning. I was not able to sleep well. The place was too crowded, and it was cold. There was no power supply. People just used candles in order to have a source of light.”
“The next morning, the typhoon was gone. We saw fallen trees everywhere. The roofs of the houses near the chapel were damaged—most of them were blown off. Some houses were completely destroyed. There were fallen electric posts along the roads.”
“When we reached home, we saw our damaged house. Our roof and walls were gone. The strong winds blew them away. Our clothes were soaked in murky water. My books and notebooks also got wet.”
“My neighbour, who is also my classmate, told me that our school was also damaged. I thought she was just joking, but when we visited the school, what I saw was unbelievable. That was the first time I saw that kind of damage. Some of the big trees collapsed. It was difficult to get in the school because fallen trees, leaves and tree branches were everywhere.”
“I hope you can help more children in our place. Many more children were affected by the typhoon.”
Typhoon Haima hit the northern regions of Luzon Island in the Philippines late evening of 19 October 2016, affecting thousands of children in more than two hundred schools in worst-hit regions. The Department of Education reported that around a thousand classrooms were damaged due to the typhoon. Thus, temporary learning spaces were among the priority needs in the aftermath of typhoon Haima.
In response, Save the Children has provided 30 temporary learning spaces and 25 teachers learning kits in the provinces of Kalinga, Cagayan, and Isabela to ensure the immediate resumption of classes in these areas. We have also distributed 6,402 back-to-school kits to provide the school children with appropriate learning materials.
“We saw our makeshift classroom. It was roofless. Books and posters were soaked in rainwater. Leaves and tree branches were on the floor. I was sad to see our school in such condition. I thought I wouldn’t be able to go back to school because our classroom was damaged. It’s the second time that our classroom was damaged because of a typhoon. Early this year (2016), our classroom used to be located there. (She pointed to a barricaded area near the river bank. Her teachers said that there used to be a three-classroom building in that area. However, when typhoon Carina—international known as typhoon Nida—hit the Philippines in early 2016, the building collapsed after the raging water washed away the soil under it.)”
“Thank you Save the Children for these school supplies. I’m happy to receive these. The notebooks are very useful. I can use it to take down notes of our lessons when classes resume in November. My father will not need to spend on new things anymore. These are really helpful. I’m excited to go back to school.”