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Plan International Helps Children Affected by Typhoon Haiyan Return to School

Students hold up Back to School kits distributed by Plan International.
Students hold up Back to School kits distributed by Plan International.
May 6, 2014
Back to School kits provided by Plan are helping children as they transition back to the classroom.

Since Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in November 2013, Plan International has been working with communities to send children back to school – but given the devastation, progress hasn’t been easy.

“This is where I used to sit in class,” said 13-year-old Eula as she pointed to a spot on the exposed concrete floor where her classroom once stood. The roof and walls are nowhere to be seen, having been destroyed by the force of the typhoon.

Months after Typhoon Haiyan ripped through Guiuan in Eastern Samar province, the public school still looks like no place for learning. The tops of buildings are blown off, jagged concrete walls lie in heaps, steel beams dangerously protrude, and shattered glass and rubble litter the floors. Elsewhere on the school grounds, girls holding umbrellas stand in a long line, waiting for their turn to use a toilet with no roof.

Although the school reopened a month after the typhoon with support from Plan, which has provided “Back to School” kits for disaster-affected children, there are tremendous needs that have yet to be met. Eula and her friends are now attending classes in one of the few buildings that survived Haiyan’s onslaught.

“It’s difficult to concentrate on our lessons,” she said. “There are no partitions that separate us from other classes and we get distracted by the noise.”

It isn’t only the lack of facilities affecting students like Eula in disaster-ravaged communities. They also have to adjust to drastic changes in their routines.

“Besides our classrooms, I miss the fun we used to have when we joked around,” she said. “Not everyone’s here now because some of our classmates who lost their homes had to transfer to other places.”

At night, doing homework proves difficult with the power still out. Eula also has less time to study and rest with all the cleaning up that has to be done at home. With so few possessions, she is incredibly grateful for the “Back to School” kit provided by Plan that is helping to ease her return to school.

Standing on her spot in the classroom reduced to a concrete floor, Eula calls out to her friends. Soon more students join and find their own “seats.” One goes to where the chalkboard used to be and pretends to write. They goof around and act out what they used to do inside the classroom, spontaneously building new walls from laughter and a roof from happy memories, shielding themselves from the harrowing realities outside.

Girls like Eula need help returning to school. You can help! Visit our donation page to make a contribution to our relief efforts.

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