Taiwanese group provides clean water to students on remote island in the Philippines

Manila, Feb 6 (CNA) A Taiwanese non-profit organization is working to provide clean water to students on the Philippine island of Siargao, following a deadly typhoon that damaged infrastructure in some parts of the country last year.

The Taiwanese Children and Families Fund (TFCF), which has a branch in the Philippines, had inaugurated a solar-powered water pumping station in Siargao just days before Super Typhoon Rai hit the southern Philippines on December 16, 2021, leaving a trail of death and damage.

Some 405 people were killed, 1,147 injured and 82 remain missing, while 500,000 were displaced and a total of 4.45 million were affected in some way by the storm, according to the Philippine Disaster Management Agency data valid as of December 31, 2021. .

Siargao Island, a popular tourist destination known for its sandy beaches and surfing attractions, has been reduced to a tangle of downed power lines and poles, wrecked buildings and toppled palm trees.

The solar-powered water pumping station, built by TFCF to provide clean water to underprivileged families, was damaged rendering it non-functional following the storm.

Immediately after the typhoon, TFCF moved quickly to help provide emergency relief to communities in Siargao, and is currently working on repairing the water pumping station, according to Kelly Chang (張凱莉), a branch representative. Philippines from TFCF.

Students had to buy drinking water at school because despite heavy rainfall on the island, there were no adequate collection or storage systems before the construction of the TFCF facility, a- she declared.

Repairs to the pumping station will be carried out in collaboration with another non-profit organization called Espoir School of Life, to ensure that students in Siargao from disadvantaged families will once again have access to clean water, said Chang.

Espoir School of Life, which provides free education to underprivileged children in the Philippines, opened its first facility in Siargao in 2016 in the town of Del Carmen, the school’s website says, noting that Espoir is a French word meaning “hope”.

Most of the people in the area are construction workers, farmers and fishermen, earning barely enough to support themselves and their families, and they see no way out of poverty as they think that there are no opportunities for people living in remote parts of the country. , according to school administrator Jerlyn Rabaca.

Espoir School of Life, however, aims to end this cycle of poverty by providing “free, high-quality education” to students in the region, Rabaca told CNA.

“Everything is free here, including uniforms and school supplies, even pencils and crayons, because we believe we need to provide these children with free education and options in life so they can acquire the necessary knowledge. to make the right choices,” she said.

Currently, the school has 96 students, in grades ranging from kindergarten to fourth grade, but plans for expansion are underway, Rabaca said.

“We hope to add a new class each year, until we reach grade 12,” she said. “We hope that by then we will be able to prepare students to apply for university scholarships, as this is the only way for them to gain access to higher education.”

The TFCF subsidiary in the Philippines is also part of efforts to eradicate urban poverty and create a better life for students in Siargao, focusing not only on providing safe drinking water.

In 2020, TFCF introduced a program that enabled shared use of electronic tablets by students in Siargao, after schools there switched to remote learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Chang. .

On the island, where internet connectivity is limited, students were able to pick up the tablets every day and pass them on to others, sharing usage, to ensure they could all participate in lessons remotely. , she said.

(By Angie Chen and Evelyn Kao)

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