Sitting here in the air conditioned bubble of the departure lounge of Iloilo airport, waiting to fly back to Manila, my thoughts go back to some of the people I met in in Iloilo.
One place in particular comes to mind.
CBM works with partner RBI (Resources for the Blind), who ensure that children with visual impairments – and they may also have hearing, learning or mobility difficulties – have the chance to access education.
In November, Typhoon Haiyan destroyed many of the buildings that are used for these classes, effectively ending education for the children.
But with CBM support, the centre at Carles School has already been rebuilt and is ready to be furnished. Of all the buildings at the school that were affected by the super-typhoon, it is the first to be restored.
And like this airport lounge, it’s cool, clean and spacious – a haven from the heat and stress of daily life, and a perfect learning environment.
It should be ready for use – equipped with assistive devices – by the beginning of the school year in June.
The children (and their families) are excited about it. Most have a difficult journey just to get to school. They walk (or are carried) across rice fields, then, once they reach the road, travel on small motorbikes. One mother told us she talks constantly to her son, fearing he will fall asleep and forget to hold on.
CBM and RBI are rebuilding 11 more resource centres like this one. They provide the opportunity for individual specialised education, and facilitate mainstreaming into regular classes.
All this is essential education towards independence, but in fact, it’s even more than that. The families we met told us that these class groups form close bonds, the children become great friends. This is something that is so difficult for them to do otherwise.