Six months after Typhoon Bopha took more than 1,000 lives and displaced more than a million people, teaching and learning are starting up again in elementary schools across affected parts of the Philippines.
NEW BATAAN, Philippines, 13 May 2013 – Glenn Larabez can’t wait to go back to school. The 8-year-old usually attends second grade in his village in New Bataan in the province of Compostela Valley. As he speaks about the typhoon that destroyed his family’s home and stole away his pet bird, Alimokon, his voice becomes quiet, matching his tiny frame.
ILIGAN, Philippines, 16 March 2012 – Ten-year-old Joy Crizelle lives with her grandfather, sister, two aunts and uncles, and a nephew in a small one-room hut at an evacuation centre in Barangay Mandulog, in Iligan. Their village was one of the worst affected by the flash floods that followed Tropical Storm Washi in December.
“We were asleep in our house when the flood came,” Joy said. “We had to leave immediately. My grandfather brought blankets for me and my sister, but we left everything else behind. I was very scared. It was dark and the water was rising, and I could hear people crying out for help.”
ILIGAN CITY, Philippines, 20 March 2012 – Twelve-year-old Hannah Monsalan lives in Mandulog, one of the villages worst-hit by the flash floods that swept through northern Mindanao in December, following Tropical Storm Washi. The equivalent of one month’s rain fell overnight, swelling the Mandulog river to a destructive torrent, which crushed hundreds of families’ homes.
Hannah’s own small home was picked up by the swirling floodwaters and smashed into a large coconut tree. She survived by clinging to a small tree until she could be rescued. “I was swimming and I was screaming. And then I could no longer find my mother,” she said. “My hair got stuck in a pile of wood, and I was suddenly under water. I thought it was the end for me. Then I swam for safety.”
Her mother did not make it.
And in the wake of the disaster, her entire community was left vulnerable, surrounded by stagnant water and threatened by waterborne diseases. Many families were without shelter, and many children were burdened by their memories of the floods.
NEW YORK, USA, 1 March 2012 – More than one billion children live in urban areas according to UNICEF’s flagship report, ‘The State of the World’s Children 2012: Children in an Urban World’.
On the whole, children in urban areas typically have better educational opportunities than those in rural areas. But for many urban children from marginalized groups – including the children of migrants and children living in slums or on the streets – education remains inaccessible. Many fail to meet registration requirements to enrol in urban schools and others can’t afford education-related costs, such as uniforms, books and supplies.
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines, 25 January 2012 – In City Central School, in Cagayan de Oro City, two teachers recently held their first day of classes since the devastating floods that swept through their community – even as their own futures looks uncertain.
Vivian Benedictos and Marilou Gambuta, co-teachers and best friends, share a first-grade classroom at the school. It is a space they not only teach in, but now also live in.
MANILA, Philippines, 5 December 2011 – “We cannot really change the world, but we can change ourselves for the world,” said Arnel Alipao, an 18-year-old youth advocate from Mainit, Surigao del Norte, in the Philippines.