I was in the Philippines from Nov 23 to 29 to see the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). I visited North Panay, Leyte and Samar. I’ve seen poverty and suffering in many different countries over the past 30 years but I was unprepared for what I saw on this trip. For mile upon mile it looked like a super large truck had run over entire communities, farm, and the whole countryside.
Thankfully, the food situation has improved greatly thanks to humanitarian efforts of nations and charity organizations. I believe that most communities (including remote ones) have enough food at this time. However, I believe that this food supply will slowly run down as relief organizations start pulling out at the end of this year and will “dry up” in about 6 months’ time when the relief work will be handed over to the Philippines government.
As I saw the great needs, I realized that Goducate had to focus on its core-strengths of education. I saw dozens of damaged schools with roofs that had blown off. In the undamaged sections of these schools, lived many refugees who had lost their homes.
The Department of Education has declared that schools should re-open for classes. There is good intention behind this order to resume classes but in reality how can classes be conducted in roofless classrooms, or rooms occupied by refugees? No-one seemed to have an answer to this simple question!
So we decided to start Goducate Tent Schools to meet this need. Goducate’s engineering team has designed large tents that are suitable as classrooms. These will be set up in school compounds (in cooperation with the local educational authorities). If the regular teachers are still reporting for duty, then they will be the ones to teach in these tents. If not, Goducate community development workers (CDWs) will serve as relief-teachers. In addition to regular classes, our CDWs will conduct classes on agriculture, carpentry, and public health.
Goducate will provide planting materials for root-crops and vegetables, as well as the worms (African Night Crawlers) used to produce vermicompost (an organic fertilizer). Many of the affected communities are coastal fishing communities with no culture of growing food. Our CDWs will thus teach mothers and students how to produce fertilizers and how to grow vegetables.
Goducate will provide chain-saws and other tools to clear fallen trees and produce lumber from them. Our CDWs will teach carpentry skills to men and teenage male students so that they can rebuild their own houses with help from us (eg, in the form of nails and roofing materials).
Our CDWs will also teach mothers and teenage female students public health to prevent the onset of communicable diseases from mosquitos and dirty water.
In other words, Goducate Tent Schools will be both regular school classrooms and a community classrooms for relevant survival skills.
Goducate is in the process of sealing a partnership with Water Missions International to provide clean drinking water to communities.
I hope that with this project Goducate will help the helpless help themselves and that these will then move on to help others to help themselves.
Damaged community clinic
Design of Goducate Tent School