PALO, Leyte – It was a day full of cheers and gift giving at the Guindapunan Elementary School in this storm-stricken town.
On Valentine’s Day, the One Heart Foundation, Apple Drive Project and Quota International Cebu joined hands to distribute slippers, apples and hygiene kits to the more than 400 students who are still coping trauma due to Yolanda.
Filipino-Canadian Youtube sensation Mikey Bustos serenaded the students and the teachers with their still destroyed school buildings due to the typhoon remain a strong reminder of what happened on November 8, 2013.
“I’ve done a lot of concerts to raise money and help victims indirectly in the past natural disasters, but now I want to help on site. My friends asked me to come to Tacloban,” said Bustos, who was accompanied by American volunteers.
For 11-year-old pupil Kristine Cormero, receiving gifts further uplifts a child’s spirit weakened by super typhoon’s fury. The storm has killed six of her relatives including an aunt, uncle and cousins.
“Receiving these gifts means a lot to me especially that we lost a lot of important things when the typhoon struck our village,” Kristine said.
The day earlier, the One Heart Foundation and its partner non-government organization also distributed gifts to pupils and students in San Antonio village in Basey, Samar.
“We’re giving out hundreds of Havaianas flip flops because we want children to be proud of their foot wear. In provinces, shoes are not really a norm and everybody wears flip flops,” said Noel Galang, the operations manager of the Los Angeles-based foundation backed by Filipinos in the United States.
RJ Garcia, Apple Drive Project founder, said giving out apples has been the symbol of their activities on educating children on healthy lifestyle.
“Most kids had never held nor tasted an apple. Apples, to them, are sort of a myth, something they just saw or heard the teacher talk about. I always love to see children in their first taste of apple,” he said.
Another group – Quota International of Cebu, distributed more than a thousand hygiene kits to young typhoon survivors
“After our recent visit to Leyte and Samar areas, we found that people need more than food and shelter,” said Elisa Torres, the group’s president.
For school principal Elsa De Paz, gift giving and serenading school children is one way to help children cope up from traumatic stress brought about by Yolanda.