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Tacloban Revisited 6 Months after Typhoon Haiyan

Holger 'Steve' Bergner with school children in Palo near Tacloban City.

Holger ‘Steve’ Bergner with school children in Babatngong near Tacloban City.

Distribution of school supplies for 3000 children in Tacloban, Philippines

By Holger Bergner, Founder of Christian-Daily-News, May 31, 2014

Jo handing plastic bags with school supplies.

Jo handing out plastic bags with school supplies.

A month ago Jo Bishop and Melody Grace Aguilar of the Manila based ‘Channel of Hope Foundation‘ invited me to come along on their next trip to Tacloban – and finally the long awaited day came: on the 25th of May six volunteers, Jo, Mary Grace, Jenny from Cebu, myself and Andrew and Paul from Cagayan de Oro arrived in Tacloban City to spend 4 days distributing needed school supplies to elementary schools and daycare centers in areas of Tacloban that are still partly in ruins as a result of Typhoon Haiyans trail of destruction last November. Our objective was to distribute school supplies for 3000 children, over 2000 pieces of clothing and 300 educational books and 150 audio CD’s for 15 schools, plus CD stereo players for each, as well as toothbrushes and tooth paste.

A dilapidated school building in Palo, our distribution venue.

A dilapidated school building in Tanauan, one of our distribution venues.

Thanks to all Channel of Hope sponsors, besides the school supplies, we were able to also give out over 2000 items of children’s clothing, along with a variety of other material. During the weeks leading up to the trip Jo tirelessly rallied supporters, carried boxes, packed and repacked them until they were ready to be loaded onto the truck bound for Tacloban two days before our flight.

A very big ‘thank you’ to the management and staff at RTR-Hospital in Tacloban City for their hospitality, and for their organization of many of the event locations, as well giving us vehicles and nearly limitless manpower to make the distribution possible. We couldn’t have done it in the short time we had there without their help. God bless them.

Typhoon Haiyan, known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, was one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, which devastated portions of the Philippines on November 8, 2013. The Typhoon left over 7,000 people dead when it swept across the central Visayas. Storm surges higher than trees that swept kilometres inland accelerated the devastation, destroying entire towns. More than 1,000 schools in the typhoon zones were damaged or destroyed.

Day 1: On our first day after arrival we went to a town soccer tournament for poor children to give school supplies and soccer balls to the members of all six teams. The event called ‘Mission Tacloban’ was partly organized by RTR-Hospital and served to instill hope and courage in the participating children and citizens of Tacloban City after Typhoon Haiyan. After the tournament we had a planning meeting at the City Hall to organize the following busy days.

The daycare teachers with their free educational material.

The daycare teachers with their free educational material.

Day 2: In the morning Jo and Mary Grace gave an educational seminar to over 25 teachers from 15 day care centers. Afterwards we gave to the teachers 15 full sets of sponsored Christian educational materials (consisting of about 20 books/10 Audio CD’s each) as well as CD players, so the teachers can use the audio materials on an ongoing basis for many grades and years to come.

Day 3: We were finally able to begin the distribution of 3000 sets of school supplies. The first day was for 1000 day care children from Tacloban City. Without the unfailing help and preparation of the daycare teachers that came to

Children in Tanauan

Children in Tanauan

the seminar the day before, the distribution would have been difficult. They organized thousands of children to come to the distribution venues, without theirs and the help of the many dedicated Barangay and other officials, it would not have been possible to get the needed school supplies into the hands of the many children.

Day 4: We went to Palo and Tanauan, 2 towns next to Tacloban which were the hardest hit by the typhoon. Out of 4 schools only 1 has been repaired, the one closest to the sea in San Roque, only had one bamboo classroom left with a tarpaulin roof and sand floor, yet the school administration and teachers are trying their best to supply the children with the best possible education under the given circumstances.

Handing out the school supplies.

Handing out school supplies.

At the end of our distribution at one school in Tanauan, the teachers did a heartfelt singing performance to thank us for coming. It was very heart touching to see their genuine thankfulness, even though they have to deal with tough circumstances on a daily basis themselves.

Our last place to distribute was very impromptu, but since we had several hundred sets yet to give out, we asked one school if they could call the children from around the area, and they happily obliged. Many children, mothers and fathers came running and hurrying to the distribution spot. We finished handing out the last plastic bags with school supplies Thursday afternoon around 6 AM. We rested up a little in the evening, called it a night and flew back to Manila Friday morning at 8 AM.

Enthusiastic Filipino children after the prayer.

Enthusiastic Filipino children after the prayer.

During the days of distribution we gave each child a colorful leaflet with a message of love, salvation and encouragement, which most likely will be read by families and friends as well. Additionally, before every distribution Mary Grace invited all the children, mothers, teachers and bystanders to a simple prayer of salvation that will connect them closely with Jesus Christso He can be their close friend, provider, counselor and guardian.

You’ll be able to see from the photos how very grateful the children and mothers at the distribution centers were that somebody would care enough to bring free school supplies. Many of them thanked us over and over with tears welling up in their eyes, city

Our Team.

Our Team

officials and other benefactors ‘rolled out the red carpet for us and treated us like kings’ out of thankfulness that we didn’t forget their plight and need for help. Each of us six volunteers were touched by the deep respect and affection that were bestowed upon us by the kind hearted and wonderful people of Tacloban City, Palo, Babatngong and Tanauan.

God bless you all, we will never forget and you will always stay in our hearts!

Photo credits: Cover photo by Melody Grace Aguilar, all other images by Holger Bergner

In Tacloban City at the open court next to the engineers office.

In Tacloban City at our venue, the covered court next to the engineers office.

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