TACLOBAN CITY-“We now feel safe here.”
This was the statement of student Joyce Saballa, 13 and a Grade six pupil, appreciating the 8-classrooms constructed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) which was turned over to the school management of the San Fernando Central School (SFCS), this city, on Friday morning.
No less than US Ambassador Philip Goldberg led the turn- over of the school building described to be “resilient to disasters like typhoon and earthquake” which has a three-meter elevation, a meter higher compare to the storm surge that hit the school during the onslaught of supertyphoon “Yolanda” on November 8, 2013.
Goldberg said that the construction of the school buildings in Tacloban, considered as ground zero of the world’s strongest typhoon to make landfall, was part of their commitment to help in the rehabilitation of the country after the massive disaster.
The visiting ambassador said that construction of new classrooms to areas hit by Yolanda only underscore on the “important role of education” especially to the young children.
Goldberg, during his 45 minutes visit to the school, mingled with the excited students who were on their school uniforms.
“Enjoy the school. Take care of the school. Study hard and be good to your teachers. Salamat,” he said to the applause of the students.
And in his small talks with them, Goldberg asked the students not only to take good care of their new classrooms but more so, “to study hard.”
The US government committed to construct 250 classrooms in Tacloban and 13 towns in Leyte, all hit by Yolanda.
For Tacloban, about 43 classrooms were committed by the US government.
The construction of the SFCS started July last year and finished on April, this year.
School principal Imelda Gayas said that she is thankful for the donation of the USAID saying that the assistance would mean that they would no longer be lacking of classrooms starting this school year.
“Yolanda turned out to be a big blessing for us here at San Fernando Central School,” she said.
Before the onslaught of Yolanda, the school, one of the biggest elementary schools in Tacloban, it has 72 classrooms.
Today, the school has now 60 classrooms enough to handle its 2,351 students. The school has 64 teachers.
At least 38 students of the school were killed during the typhoon.
Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez said that he also grateful for the assistance of the USAID in constructing the much-needed classrooms.
He asked Goldberg to extend his and the people of Tacloban gratitude to President Barack Obama for the assistance his government extended to Tacloban and the rest of the areas hit by Yolanda.
The US government has donated $143 million in terms of relief and rehabilitation to the country due to Yolanda.