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New Classroom Turns Evacuation Centre

School children never thought that they would be running to their new classroom, not to have class but to seek refuge.

It was Monday when Typhoon Melor (local name Nona) made landfall. It was the same day when students in one of the schools in San Roque, would supposedly use their classroom for the first time after its turn-over a day before.

“I went to school early morning to prepare the classroom. I was putting on the Christmas decorations as I was excited to welcome the students to our newly built and turned over classroom,” Edsel, 25, a grade six teacher in one of the Elementary School in San Roque, Northern Samar, says. San Roque is one of the hard hit areas of Typhoon Melor.

Edsel admits he felt disappointed when classes had to be suspended due to Typhoon Melor. He thought his students might be upset as they had been anticipating to have their class in the new classroom. “I was not expecting {Typhoon] Nona to be that strong but when the rain was getting stronger, I decided to go back home,” Edsel says, who lives just across the school.

When the winds became strong and so did the heavy downpour, Edsel’s family decided to leave their house to evacuate to a safer ground. From where they were, he saw his house collapsing. “The cement walls were giving in, and the roof was falling,” he says.

Houses of his students, most made from light materials, experienced the same fate. Typhoon Melor left them homeless. The new classroom, along with other rooms of the school, turns to be an evacuation center for of the 49 families, including Edsel’s and his students.

They spend their nights in the classrooms. In the morning, they go back to their houses to start rebuilding their houses from salvaged debris and salvage their things—specially books and school materials.

One of the schools that was destroyed by Typhoon Melor.

Inspiration from Students

Despite losing his home and seeing many of his students experience the same fate, he finds simple joy from his students. His students are still able to joke around despite their experiences. Few students approached him and said, “Sir, our classroom is not just where we learn but it is now our home. I never imagined we would live in a house made of stone [referring to the concrete classroom],” he says.

We laughs with his students but Edsel admits that he worries for them. He is afraid that the devastation will lead to school dropouts. “I am afraid to hear from students that they would not attend school because they do not have notebooks, pens and bags,” he says.  

As early as now, Edsel encourages and reminds his students to stay in school when classes resume even if they do not have school supplies. “Families need assistance and my students are in need of school supplies,” he says.

Not forgetting that it is Christmastime, he shared that if he were to have a wish for Christmas, “I wish my students would have basic school supply ready just in time when classes resume on January,” he says.

Plan International Philippines has distributed thousands of water, sanitation, hygiene and infant kits to Typhoon Nona affected families in hard-hit municipalities of San Roque, Catarman and Catubig, Northern Samar.