THE Aboitiz Foundation and the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (Rafi) are building new classrooms and fixing damaged ones in northern towns affected by super typhoon Yolanda last November.

They expect the rehabilitation program to be completed between this month and next, said Anthony Dignadice, Rafi education development unit executive director.

Most school buildings are between 60 and 70 percent complete at present.

Rafi is targeting to complete 184 classrooms, 20 day care centers in Bantayan, Daanbantayan, Santa Fe and Madridejos.

Both foundations are spending a total of P400 million for the program.

Rafi president Roberto “Bobby” Aboitiz said they faced many challenges along the way, such as supervision of the rebuilding efforts in multiple towns, materials procurement and delivery.

Bidding took less than two months, which is why the classrooms will be completed in no time, he said.

This is in contrast to the government’s experience where the Department of Education and the Department of Public Works and Highways have yet to construct new classrooms or repair damaged ones.

The delay is purportedly caused by red tape and the search for a calamity-resilient design.

Plea for help

The nongovernment organization-led rehabilitation in northern Cebu is so successful that Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez and lawyer Iñaki Larrazabal asked the foundations for help in rebuilding the two-story Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) in Ormoc City.

“There are a lot of young people in Ormoc without jobs, but without Tesda they have no future,” said Jon Ramon.

Rafi sent an architect to Ormoc to assess the damage to the Tesda property.

Roberto and Jon Ramon want to emphasize the importance of community-driven rehabilitation in affected areas.

“What they are doing is, everybody is pitching in. It’s a story worth capturing.

That’s the Cebuano or Bisaya spirit. Doing it with limited resources,” said Roberto.

Seven months after Yolanda devastated parts of the Visayas and the communities are still in bad shape, observed Roberto.

Most of the government rehabilitation programs are stuck because of too much bureaucracy.

Some relief goods from the Department of Social Welfare Development have not been distributed and some goods donated by the international communities are still at the Bureau of Customs.

In northern Cebu, the Aboitizes believe the situation is very well addressed.

The foundations’ effort is not just rebuilding classrooms but to ensure that these are disaster-resilient, with appropriate thermal and heat shields and are raised above ground in case of flooding.

The foundations’ school repair program is on its seventh year.