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Typhoon survivor finds comfort in school

Hasmin has endured more hardship in her life than any 12-year-old should have to go through. Her school in a small village in Leyte was one of those destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Hasmin and her classmates can still vividly recall how their school looked after the typhoon and what they went through.

As the teachers struggled to keep the children’s education going, so the students found it difficult to focus in the adverse conditions.

“We couldn’t concentrate. It was hot. And when we were tired of standing, we sat on our slippers because the floor was hot and we did not have chairs,” she says.

For a while, it felt like the people in this remote village may never recover. Hasmin’s dream of her mother being there when she graduated seemed a long way off.

But there was some relief as Plan International and Metrobank Foundation worked with the community to build 25 brand new classrooms in eight schools in Leyte and Eastern Samar – two in Hasmin’s school.

Life began to return to normal, much to the relief of all the children who now felt safe and secure in their new classrooms. But three months before graduation, Hasmin’s life was shattered once more as her mother passed away.

Me and my mother both had a dream for me to become a chef. I want to become a chef, just like her

“Me and my mother both had a dream for me to become a chef. I want to become a chef, just like her,” she says.

Hasmin knows that her life will never be the same again now that her mother, who took care of her and encouraged her to be good at school and dreamt with her, is gone. She hasn’t seen her father for almost five years now and she lives with her uncle while her younger sister lives with her aunty.

It’s been an extremely difficult period, but Hasmin’s way of coping is to stay busy in school, to focus on her studies and find a way to channel her energies.

“School has been helping us to be well,” she says. “School is fun. My favourite is when our teacher allows us to watch educational shows.”

Hasmin plays with her friends at her school in Leyte

Hasmin also loves playing with her classmates during breaktime. The piece of cloth that she used to use to shield her head from the sun when they didn’t have a classroom is now part of the kids’ games of hide-and-seek.

Through her friends, Hasmin finds comfort, and continues to let the dream live on in memory of her mother. 

Learn more about Plan International's work in the Philippines.

Written by Mai Zamora, Plan International Philippines.