The said university building in Palo, Leyte lay in desolation after Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) ravaged the Visayas region in November last year. Students and university staff had felt the storm’s wrath and classes have been put on hold.
Majority of the 200 UP-SHS students have lost their boarding houses, which stood within the vicinity of the university. These students hail from the poorest communities in the country and were only able to attend college after winning scholarships.
“We thank you (volunteers) for giving us your time and strength to build these makeshift classrooms that the students can use as rooms and dormitories. This will serve a reminder of Tzu Chi Foundation and its volunteers’ Great Love,” said the Buddhist organization’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alfredo Li.
Five of the prefabricated structures will be used as classrooms, while six will serve as dormitories for the students.
Also, each of the students have received Jing Si multipurpose foldable beds, which they laid on the floors of the donated classrooms. A total of 133 units were given to the students. These platforms were invented in Tzu Chi Taiwan during the flood that hit Pakistan in 2010.
To Myler Bon-Talde, a first year medicine student and one of the volunteers in building the makeshift classrooms, the item is a symbol of hope for every survivor.
“When Yolanda (Haiyan) struck, we thought it was the end for us. But because of your help, our strength and drive to carry on were restored. Rest assured that we will take good care of these aids you gave us and we will never forget what you did,” said Bon-Talde who came from a poor family in Coron, Palawan and attends school at UP-SHS as scholar.
“I am so happy because classes can now start in our school. I will never forget their (Tzu Chi volunteers) kindness and support. They served as a bridge for us to continue learning and reaching for our dreams,” he added.
As for another scholar, Gleenice Avenido who came from Samar, taking part in the construction of the prefabricated classrooms is her way of showing her appreciation for the kindness of Tzu Chi Foundation. The experience also put her patience into test as they had to work through rain and heat.
“(The volunteers) gave us not just knowledge but lessons that we can apply in our lives. Thank you volunteers!” shared Avenido, who is a graduating nursing student.
Bon-Talde and Avenido are just two of the many young people who were inspired by the way Tzu Chi volunteers extend their help to the needy. To them, the volunteers opened their hearts and minds to the real essence of helping without expecting anything in return.
Tzu Chi volunteers and the UP-SHS community grew emotional during the turnover ceremony.
“We feel so overwhelmed because we were able to help these people and I hope they will take good care of these (rooms) so that more students will benefit from it and make their dreams come true,” said Angelito Isidro, a volunteer from Marikina City. He was a survivor of Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) in 2009 and was given aid by the foundation. Today, he is one of the active volunteers of the organization.
Even the professors and university staff were very excited for classes to start in February 17.
“We are so happy now that we are starting to get on our feet again. We give our heartfelt thanks to the people who helped us. My prayer is that we will be able to return this act of kindness someday,” said UP-SHS dean Salvador Destura.
In addition, Destura mentioned that difficult times such as this bring out the goodness in each person. Just like what the Tzu Chi volunteers did.
“If it were not for Tzu Chi’s donations, I fear we wouldn’t be able to educate the children any longer. Now that we are given makeshift tents, we can finally start over again,” said Adelaida Rosaldo, chairman of the UP-SHS Medical Department.
As of this writing, more than 178 makeshift classrooms have been donated by Tzu Chi Foundation to the provinces of Leyte and Zamboanga City. This wide-scale mission for the survivors of natural and man-made disasters like Yolanda (Haiyan) is guided by Tzu Chi Foundation’s founder, Master Cheng Yen.
More than 50 students, faculty members and administrative staff of the university put in their efforts on February 12 – day five of the construction of makeshift classrooms.
By generously donating prefabricated rooms to UP-SHS, Tzu Chi Foundation has answered the big question that lingers in every student and university staff’s mind: “How do we get back on our feet again?”
“We are very glad and thankful for their (Tzu Chi Foundation’s) help. No other organization has given the kind of help Tzu Chi gave us,” said Carlito Villas, 54, one of UP-SHS staff.
According to Villas, the first time the foundation has helped him through cash assistance, he had decided that he will become its volunteer. “Building the makeshift classrooms is my way of helping the organization,” he added. Villas has been part of the activity since it started on February 8.
A Tzu Chi volunteer assists a student in setting up the Jing Si multipurpose foldable beds. The Foundation decided to donate more units of temporary tents to UPSHS to serve as dormitories for their students. Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) has left the students’ boarding houses into ruins. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】
Students eagerly set up the Jing Si multipurpose foldable beds together. The prefabricated classrooms will serve as their temporary shelters after Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) has destroyed their boarding houses. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】
Tzu Chi Foundation Philippines held a turnover ceremony on February 13 to formally donate the 11 makeshift classrooms to the UPSHS in Palo, Leyte, one of the school institutions that were affected by wrath Typhoon Yolanda‘s (Haiyan) wrath. The ceremony was attended by students and professors of UPSHS, and Tzu Chi volunteers. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】
Professors of UPSHS, a medical school in the Philippines supervised by the University of the Philippines Manila, offer a song number to extend their gratitude to the Tzu Chi volunteers who took time in bringing aid to their school. It was an emotional gathering as both parties thank each other. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】
Tzu Chi Philippines Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alfredo Li extends his thanks to the volunteers who gave their time and strength to hasten the building of the 11 prefabricated classrooms and dormitories for UP-. The makeshift tents are donations of Tzu Chi Taiwan to help the students who were greatly affected by the typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】
To symbolize the official turnover of the makeshift tents to the UPSHS, Tzu Chi Foundation CEO Alfredo Li presents a scale model of the units to Dean Salvador Destura. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】
Some of the Tzu Chi volunteers confer an adjusting rod to UPSHS Dean Salvador Destura as a symbol of entrusting the temporary learning shelters to the latter’s hands. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】
One of Tzu Chi Foundation’s local volunteers distributes accordions of Jing Si Aphorisms, a collection of proverbs and teachings of Tzu Chi’s founder Master Cheng Yen that may serve as guide to life for the students. One of the recipients is a graduating student of medicine named Gleenice Avenido. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】
During the turnover ceremony, Tzu Chi volunteers distribute simple keepsakes to the university faculty and administrative staff, and students of UPSHS who took part in the building of temporary learning spaces in UP Tacloban. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】
Filipino Tzu Chi volunteers who took part in the construction of temporary learning spaces received flowers from the UPSHS students. In a simple gesture of giving their thanks, the volunteers’ hearts were filled with happiness and were inspired to continue with their noble mission. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】
A student of UPSHS gives a flower to thank the volunteers who worked tirelessly, despite the changing weather to build the makeshift classrooms and dormitories. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】
Photo shows the solidarity of the Tzu Chi volunteers, students and professors of UP-SHS, who worked together in putting up the 11 units of makeshift tents to hasten the commencement of classes in the said campus. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】