Firm ‘adopts’ a school in Medellin

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Monday, December 23, 2013


INSTEAD of holding a lavish Christmas party, employees of an electrical engineering firm in Cebu City drove to a remote school in the northern town of Medellin a week before Christmas.

They fed young typhoon survivors, gave them school supplies, and entertained them with games.

Nathan Archival, chief finance and administrative officer of NA Systems Inc., said they plan to return to Caputatan Norte Elementary School next year to fix its roofs.

“Their classrooms were destroyed. The school is no longer ideal for learning,” said Archival, who went to Medellin along with about 20 other employees last Dec. 17.

Medellin, located some 120 kilometers north of Cebu City, was one of the towns badly hit by super typhoon Yolanda last Nov. 8. More than 11,000 houses were either destroyed or damaged, affecting nearly 13,000 families.

During their outreach, some 350 children were fed and given school materials by their employees, said Archival. They also entertained the children, mostly sons and daughters of sugarcane farmers, with games.

Suggestion

The group also gave 60-meter blue sacks to the children’s parents for their temporary shelters.

Archival said they handed more blue sacks to about 20 households they passed by on their way back to Cebu City.

Archival said it was the employees who suggested they slash their budget for the Christmas party and help the typhoon survivors.

Instead of holding their party in a hotel as planned, they held a simple get-together in a gym in Mabolo, Cebu City last Dec. 21.

Archival said their employees were moved to see the flattened villages. Three days after the typhoon, the company sent personnel to check their employees’ houses in the north. “Didto gikumot ilang kasing-kasing (That’s when their hearts were crushed),” Archival said.

Having seen the devastation, Archival said they plan to continue their effort in Caputatan Norte Elementary School for one year.

The company also wants to help fix houses, but their priority now is to help rehabilitate the school.

Inspiration

“We hope to sustain our effort. We might adopt the school for one year. We really saw their need for help,” he said.

It may take years before the school gets back to its original state, school officials told the group, which arrived at 10 a.m. and left four hours later.

The storm swept away the pupils’ school materials. The teachers sometimes have to spend their own money to provide the pupils with meals and school supplies. Since their parents do not earn regular income, most of the children eat only twice a day.

“When we went there, the children were very grateful. For most of them, that was the first time to get to enjoy party games,” Archival said.

He said they hope to inspire the children to finish their studies and help lift their families out of poverty.

“Our hope is that those children will become future leaders,” Archival said. “Leaders who had gone through hardships are able to serve the people better.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 24, 2013.

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