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Sailors’ Society builds school to end dangerous boat trip for pupils

Sailors Society school

WesCom’s adopted charity, Sailors’ Society, is building a new school in the Philippines to prevent children having to endure a dangerous two-hour boat trip each day.

The school that will take more than 800 pupils will transform the lives of a seafaring community on Lipayran island, previously devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. A groundbreaking ceremony has already been held.

Sandra Welch, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and director of the programme says, “Although life has returned to normal since Haiyan, the islanders struggle to send their children to school as there is only one school and it’s not big enough to cater for everyone.

“This means around 50 per cent of children miss out on vital schooling or make the treacherous two-hour journey to school on the neighbouring islands of Doong or Bantayan, which can only be done at high tide and in good weather. This project will provide safe access to quality education for all of the children of Lipayran.”

Lipayran was badly affected by super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in 2013 and has received very little international aid due to its remoteness and lack of infrastructure. Around 75% of the 3,500-community rely on seafaring as a main source of income.

The current building for secondary pupils is little more than a shack and not structurally able to withstand any future tropical storms. Teachers have frequently resorted to delivering classes outside under canvas, and in extreme heat, because of the lack of suitable classrooms.

A grant from The TK Foundation and money raised through Sailors’ Society events including the Three Peaks Challenge and Hong Kong Dinner are helping fund the project.

Gavin Lim, Sailors’ Society’s regional development manager - Asia says, “The new school will make a huge difference for the children, improving their education as well as the long-term economic prospects of the community as a whole.

“The storm-proof school building will be multipurpose, as it will serve as an emergency shelter in case of another natural disaster, as well as provide a base for adult education and other community activities in the evenings and at weekends.”

The new school building, which is planned to be completed by the end of 2019, would be able to shelter approximately a quarter of the island population in an emergency.

Yumi Karlshoej, Member of the Junior Board of The TK Foundation, says, “Encouraging improved education opportunities for children and providing the community on the island with a functioning storm shelter are vitally important. Ever since we at the Junior Board learned about the project, we have been very eager to be involved and support it.”

Sailors’ Society is a trusted charity partner in the Philippines and has delivered projects in seafaring communities there, including rebuilding homes, schools and health centres for the communities of Sulangan, Suba and Ticad in Cebu Province. It is supported by WesCom Signal and Rescue.

Sailors’ Society this year named Yanming Bay, of WesCom Signal and Rescue distributor, Safety Innovators International Pte Ltd, as an Ambassador for the Sailors’ Society Singapore Group. WesCom’s Director of Global Marketing and Communications, Chris Feibusch, is also an Ambassador.

The Lipayran school build project is being run in partnership with the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. and the local government (the Municipal of Bantayan and Barangay Lipayran governing council). As a government-run school, the Department of Education will provide the ongoing costs of the school including building maintenance, staff salaries and school supplies.

The new facilities will include electricity, computers, desks and chairs and once the construction is complete, Water and Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) training will be taught to the pupils.

Jun 05, 2019