School kit brings a smile to a child from an ash-stricken Batangas town
At a young age, Mhicaela, 7, has seen how her family struggle in life this year. Her town was almost buried in ashes when Taal Volcano erupted in January, 43 years after its last eruption in the late 70s. Mhicaela evacuated to a nearby town and stayed in an evacuation center for nearly two months. Her parent’s source of income, mainly from the construction work of her father, Roy, 32, was greatly affected.
By mid-March, the government allowed the families in Mhicaela’s town to return. Their community, one of the hard-hit areas of Taal Volcano eruption that destroyed houses and schools, was the last to return. And just as Mhicaela’s family has started rebuilding their life, another problem had befallen upon them: COVID-19. The global health pandemic that affected millions of people worldwide has put most families in Michaela’s town without a job and relied mostly on government and private sector assistance.
Mhicaela’s mother, Melody, 30, shared, “My husband recently landed a construction job abroad. We thought it would be ok from then on. But COVID came. And everything is back to zero. We even have a debt worth Php50,000 that we are paying around Php3,000 monthly. My husband has no work abroad now due to COVID. He wanted to come home but there was no transportation and our savings is not enough.”
As if Taal Volcano eruption and COVID-19 aren’t enough, the town recently experienced a flash flood, something that the community isn’t familiar because it had never happened to them in the past.
“The flash flood happened late afternoon. We were thankful for that because we don’t know what would have happened if it happened in the evening or early morning when all of us are sound asleep,” Melody continued. “The rushing water toppled our neighbor’s motorcycles and even carried a bicycle to another neighbor. Good thing they found it again. The water with mud rushed into our houses and ruined everything that it can reach. The water is up to our knees. Everything in our house was submerged in mud water including my children’s books.”
When World Vision visited the community a few days after the flash flood, many of the families were still cleaning their houses. Appliances, shoes, cabinets, books, and bags were being dried under the sun.
Melody admitted relying on her relative’s support not just on financial but also emotional. They are currently residing in her mother’s, Lorie, a World Vision volunteer, house. “What we went through this year is too much. I don’t know how I could have survived this without the support of my family,” she said.
Must remain strong
As a mother of three young children, the youngest being two years old only, Melody has to be strong. “Though I noticed that what happened to us has an effect on Mhicaela’s study,” she shared.
Michaela, the eldest among the three siblings, failed to clinch the first honor award and was only placed second. Shyly, Michaela said there were times when she failed to do her assignment or project. “We didn’t have money,” she said, almost a whisper.
Melody explained, “Sometimes, they have projects or assignments that we didn’t know and there were times when she needs to buy something for a project but we were on a tight budget. So, we could only buy within our means.”
Mhicaela, a Grade two student, added that she’s good in Math which probably why she was only a notch down from the top honor list. “Math is my favorite subject,” she said in a timid voice.
Mhicaela was also previously received Fast Reader and Batang Maaasahan (Reliable Child) awards.
With COVID-19 still affecting a large population in the Philippines, the country’s Department of Education (DepEd) has restricted students from physically going to school and instead, do either online or modular class learning. This means that Mhicaela will not be physically seeing her classmates and teachers for some months.
World Vision recently provided Mhicaela with new school supplies to support the new school method. Seeing the new notebooks, papers, and pens, Mhicaela’s eyes glowed with anticipation. “Are all these mine?” she asked from a World Vision staff, who nodded in confirmation. The young child’s eyes glowed and excitedly checked the contents of the school kit.
Melody also smiled. “I remember she is always excited to receive school supplies from World Vision at the start of every school year,” she said, adding that if not for the support of World Vision sponsors, she would have probably been cashing out Php1,000 to buy her daughter’s initial school needs.
During the Oplan Balik Eskwela (OBE) kick-off ceremony, the DepEd has recently encouraged its partners to donate health promotion and disease prevention equipment, help in the information campaign, and provision of learning options. World Vision has recently pledged its support to the government agency’s Brigada Eskwela and OBE. Philippine classes will formally start in the last week of August.
With your help, we hope to give School Kits to thousands of children in our partner communities nationwide. You are not only giving basic learning materials, but you are encouraging these children to keep their dreams alive.