By Mandy Schouren
A group of seven VFV volunteers packed their bags to go for an overnight trip to a lovely village on a little island just north of Leyte, Brgy. Planza in Babatngon.
The Filipino military had a massive truck available for us, which we needed to load up all the supplies. The fun part was to load all our supplies onto the Filipino ‘Bangkas’ boats to get everything to Planza, but with a few times going back and forth we managed to get everything across the water. The principal of Planza Elementary school and a whole bunch of kids gave us a very warm welcome. And of course the Filipino hospitality made sure we had lunch before we started working.
During typhoon Yolanda gladly most of the school got spared except for one classroom. A massive tree got blown over by the strong winds and fell straight down onto the roof of the room. We brought new supplies to rebuild the classroom but first we had to get rid of this big tree. The boys started with the chainsaw, cutting down piece by piece. Straight away the local guys came out to help and naturally they seemed much more comfortable on the roof with their ‘monkey-skills’.
The girls helped around cleaning up and being a safety barrier to keep the kids at a distance.
A lot of the village boys came to help us and seemed very happy to make themselves useful. Like the principal said, “they need fresh motivation from volunteers like you to keep us going.” So together with the local people we worked very hard and by the end of the day we had the tree down!
After a night under the stars and a good breakfast we succeeded to get the damaged roof and the broken wall down. With a whole group of people we cleaned everything up and the classroom ready for a new roof. The village had two very good carpenters who we discussed the plan with and they were to rebuild the school with the supplies that we brought for them. They were very grateful and thankful that we came out to their lovely place to help. The village and the principal made us feel very welcome and it was our pleasure to help.
A few weeks later we went back to Planza to see if the school was finished.
It was really good to go back again and see that the classroom was rebuilt!
They made a mix with the new supplies and recycled some of the materials that they could re-use from the old roof.