Home Special Report Disaster Response for Typhoon Yolanda Working hand-in-hand in making students’ dreams come true

Working hand-in-hand in making students’ dreams come true

Wednesday, 15 February 2017 16:4 PM
These medical students carry their new Jing Si multipurpose foldable beds donated by the Buddhist foundation, Tzu Chi Philippines. They are just a few of more than 100 students who will be using the makeshift tents as dormitories. Tzu Chi Foundation donated 11 units of prefabricated classrooms to the University of the Philippines School of Health Sciences (UPSHS) in Palo, Leyte to hasten the resuming of classes in the said school. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】

Story Highlights

  • Eleven makeshift classrooms were formally presented by Tzu Chi Foundation to the students of the University of the Philippines-School of Health Sciences (UP-SHS) in Palo, Leyte on February 13. These donations will serve as classrooms and dormitories for the students.
  • The students, faculty and staff of UP-SHS and Tzu Chi volunteers grew emotional during the formal turnover ceremony of the makeshift classrooms. Everybody put in their efforts in building the learning spaces to bring the students’ life back to normal.

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.

Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 February 2017 16:4 PM

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