We are really pleased to be involved in some really exciting, innovative work that is underway for Logon Elementary School on Malapascua.
The school was badly damaged in the typhoon, but everyone felt it was important to get the school up and running as quickly as possible to restore the kids to some feeling of normality, and also to get them out of their parents’ hair so they could focus on putting their lives back together! So a few weeks ago, TSD decided to “adopt” the elementary school and its 1,100 children for one of its restoration projects, funded of course by all your generous donations 🙂
First off was to get some kind of temporary roofing in place. In the weeks following the typhoon, we scoured Cebu City for tarpaulin and at every store we went to, much like many other emergency supplies, it was flying off the shelves as quickly as it arrived. But we managed to get rolls here and there and it all added up. The first of this went to our staff members, some of whom no longer had a roof to sleep under. We luckily found more than we needed, so this was donated to the school so they could repair roofs in some of the classrooms to get them useable again.
So classes were ready to start, but the children had lost most of their materials. So that week, we bought much needed supplies for every child: pens, pencils, crayons, notebooks etc. This was a mammoth task as each of the seven years from Kindergarten to Grade 6 has different requirements amounting to over 10,000 individual items! Once we worked out how many children were in each year, we managed to source a main supplier in Cebu who could deal with that level of order. They did a great job and managed to pack nearly 70 heavy boxes brimming with materials.
Aquaventure Whitetip, one of our dive suppliers, kindly donated their van (as they have donated many other items) to transport the materials. We spent a very hot, sticky afternoon sorting and giving out the items to endless lines of grateful children! More pictures on facebook.
School Christmas party
The next week, the school had its Christmas presentation which we were lucky enough to attend. The kids put on performances and they were absolutely brilliant. There were many that we really loved, but our favourite was the little girl dancing to the theme to Hawaii 5-0! It loses a lot in translation so you must watch the video!
Many of our customers have wanted to volunteer while they are here diving and a few have been teaching and working at the school including Julie who has been teaching the kids French and having a great time and Vic, a teacher from the US, who played some fun and games with the kids!
There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer, both above and below water, so please contact us if you are interested in pursuing volunteer opportunities on Malapascua.
And here is a short snippet from an impromptu football match started by one of our younger customers Khi from the US (in the blue football kit) with his Dad as referee. Apologies for the chainsaw in the background – but that’s Junior, a local, who is one of the few people on the island who knows how to work a chainsaw properly. Jun has worked tirelessly for free since the typhoon, cutting down debris and helping folks around the island and now us at the school.
Patching up and temporary structures
We quickly found that rebuilding a school is not as easy as clicking our fingers, throwing money at the problem and then it’s done. There was much “will” there, but not so much of a “way”; while the school knew what they need done, they didn’t know how to go about it. So we stepped in and put a core team into place with all the vital elements: strategy/politics director, project manager, architect, construction manager and a good, reliable local construction team. Time to get started!
Our initial idea was to rebuild and repair the school as it was. However, because some of the old school building is now structurally unsound, in poor condition and uses outdated building materials and methods, we have decided upon a longer-term strategy.
We want the kids to lose as little time as possible getting back to the normal school routine; they are currently only coming in for a half day each as there are not enough useable classrooms. So we started just after Christmas on the task of patching up existing structures as quickly as possible to free up a couple more rooms.
As there are no storm resistant buildings here and everyone wants to prevent the same destruction we saw with Typhoon Haiyan, Xesus, TSD’s instructor-come-architect, has planned some stormproof concrete classrooms, complete with roof garden for gardening classes.
We anticipate the building will take at least a few months to complete if there are no major impediments and we hope to be able to fund the project entirely using your donations although that may not be possible and we may need to look for additional funding.
We’ll also need a name for your building so maybe you can make some suggestions for us?
In parallel, another organisation is arranging the donation of some truly amazing cutting-edge tech, pre-fabricated bamboo two storey classrooms, so that in the event of a storm warning these classrooms can be dismantled in advance and stored in the concrete storm shelter/classroom that we plan to build. We are waiting on information such as dimensions and dismantling time to ensure everything is feasible within typhoon warning timings and also that the new classrooms are build big enough, but in the meantime pushing forward with our buildings as much as possible.
All the team agrees that these projects are the most interesting, rewarding and challenging we have worked on before, so thank you from us all – we believe we are doing your donations justice and we sincerely hope you do too.
A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of us here at TSD 🙂