Cateel Central Elementary School Recovers from Typhoon Bopha

I met Melvin Rodilla, principal of Cateel Central Elementary School in the Philippines, during a recent project monitoring visit. Principal Rodilla wears a warm, welcoming smile despite all of the difficulty he and his school have endured during the past six months since Typhoon Bopha struck.

Principal Rodilla’s school and community were devastated by Typhoon Bopha, which hit the Philippines in December 2012, affecting approximately 6.2 million people. The storm caused classrooms to collapse. Heavy rains ruined school supplies and debris filled the schoolyard. Between January and March, the remainder of the school year, students crowded into temporary classrooms to continue their education despite the destruction they found around themselves.

In addition to destroying schools and houses, Typhoon Bopha’s high winds uprooted acres of coconut trees, leaving many students’ parents—who previously worked as coconut farmers—without jobs.

We’ve been helping this community to rebuild and recover from the storm, giving Principal Rodilla and his students hope for a new school year. In response to the need for income and the overwhelming amount of debris filling public spaces, we supported a cash-for-work project at Cateel Central Elementary School. In exchange for six days of clearing debris from the school grounds, LWR provided much needed cash to community members—many of whom were students’ parents—for their work. In addition to helping the school to recover from the storm, the project gave participants income to buy items that their families needed to survive and recover from the typhoon.

workers cleaning up debris
Participants in LWR’s cash-for-work project help to clear debris remaining from Typhoon Bopha from the schoolyard of Cateel Central Elementary School in March.

Despite the damage from Typhoon Bopha, Principal Rodilla has found hope as his school and community strive to recover. While traces of the storm remain, with support from LWR, children were able to return to school for the new year, which started June.

Principal Rodilla told me:

“As you can see, there is so much to be done. But, the assistance of LWR has helped us a lot. Now, the grounds are clear, and we can say that we are somehow prepared for the renovation of the whole school.”

new school building
A local non-governmental organization has been building new classrooms at Cateel Central Elementary School, as seen here. LWR’s cash-for-work activities contributed to the quick construction of new school buildings as the clearing of debris was required for construction to begin.

In visiting LWR’s projects and talking with people like Principal Rodilla, I have seen hope for the future of areas impacted by Typhoon Bopha, such as Cateel. Thank you for your support and gift of hope to communities devastated by Typhoon Bopha. I am grateful for those who have extended a helping hand to the people of my country in their time of need through LWR. I pray that recovery continues so that each child can return to school and be able to fulfill his/her own dreams.

For more information about LWR’s response to Typhoon Bopha, please read out latest situation report.

Written by  Joan Mae Soco of LWR Philippines.