We thought the nightmare would never end on that fateful day of November 8, 2013 when the strongest typhoon ever, Yolanda, hit Concepcion. Houses, schools, health centres, marketplaces and more were turned to rubble. Many people lost their means of living while some will never see their loved ones again.
It was sad enough that many of us have to leave our houses and find shelter in evacuation centres, but seeing our second home, Concepcion Central School, devastated sent more tears to our eyes. Classrooms where we once conducted our lessons comfortably, as well as the grounds where we held our daily flag ceremony, were turned into temporary homes for evacuees. Most of our classrooms including our school canteen had no roofs and gutters. Our books, notebooks, folders, visual aids, and more were completely ruined as well. Meanwhile, windows, chairs, and tables were also broken.
But our classes resumed two weeks after the typhoon. During this time, class sections were combined so that pupils could be accommodated in the limited number of classrooms available. This was another challenge to all of us because we had to conduct classes in unfamiliar classrooms and even at the school covered gym. Worse still, the majority of our pupils had no school supplies.
It didn’t take long for our brothers and sisters from here and abroad to hear our cry for help. Soon, relief goods like clothes, food, shoes, and school supplies came. Knowing that there are people who care and are ready to help during this time of crisis inspired our teachers and pupils to go back to school. Indeed, not all is lost.
It was on February 3 that the last evacuees finally left our school and transferred to their new homes. Though this brought joy to us, we couldn’t deny the fact that our pupils were still uncomfortable studying in a place which was not completely conducive to learning. My classroom for one has a broken door and missing window blades. But worse, the chairs for 166 pupils were no longer usable. The plastic seats were cracked and chipped while the steel frames were rusty and rickety. I feared one of them may cut their hand or back while sitting on them.
Imagine my surprise when I arrived in school this morning and there, in front of the District Office, were 40 brand new steel and wooden chairs and teacher’s table waiting for me. My class was chosen as the recipient of the project of the Association of Disabled Person-Iloilo (ADPI) in partnership with CBM. My heart overflowed with happiness and I was extremely thankful for such a wonderful blessing.
My pupils shared my joy too. As a matter of fact, they were the most grateful. After spending most of the school year sitting on dilapidated, “hand-me-down” chairs, they now consider themselves very lucky for being the first to use these gifts from our very kind donors.