The Children of Typhoon Haiyan: Tales of Resiliency, Heroes and Recovery – Part 2


 David Brickey Bloomer, Asia Regional Child Protection Advisor


January 8, 2014


Part 2: The heroes that risked their lives to save others, and the heroes that served others despite their situation

Psychosocial support initiatives for children was needed in so many communities that it became rather difficult to make decisions on where to establish programmes. To ensure that all the communities in need were reached, we coordinated with other actors such as aid agencies, local and national government departments.

In Tacloban City, many displaced children were staying in evacuation centres—mostly schools and other larger centres that had all been damaged to some extent, yet offered a roof, or partial one, under which to sleep. Work in the evacuation centres was being coordinated through the City Social Welfare Department and there were plans to utilize day care centre workers with the tasks of operating child friendly spaces. But many of the day care centre workers were, of course, themselves affected and were also putting the pieces of their lives back together.  We began with some simple measures to set up child friendly spaces in evacuation centres with the support of teachers and other community volunteers.

Panaloran School in Tacloban was one such evacuation centre. On the morning of Typhoon Yolanda, it housed up to 70 children and numerous families.  The school yard looked like a battle zone, yet the main building itself had withstood a large brunt of the storm.  The same families that had sheltered there in preparation for the storm were still residing in the few classrooms.  I met many heroes during my time in Leyte—their selfless actions saved the lives of countless children—but I particularly remember the poignant stories from a man named Oscar in Panaloran School.


Oscar, a community member in Tacloban stands in front of a school where he, his wife and 30 community members took shelter during Typhoon Haiyan. Photo Credit: David Bloomer/Save the Children

Oscar and the others at the school were in a ground level classroom on the morning of the storm. They anticipated the high winds but few had any inkling of the storm surge that would accompany it. As it became apparent that the water was going to rise above their heads, they moved to the second floor of the building despite greater risk of debris flying through the air. But the strength of the water currents made it impossible for them to open the classroom door.  Oscar broke open one of the windows and each person scrambled out through it; children were carried through the window to waiting adults on the other side. Oscar was the last one out.

The children at the school were the saddest I had witnessed in my first few days. We quickly mobilized the adults at the school; provided them with protective gear and provided cash for work for the clean-up of the school.  This was the most amazing community—by the time I had returned in the afternoon, the school had been cleared almost entirely of dangerous debris; a small classroom that was ankle deep in mud and other debris had been cleared and was being prepared for a child friendly space and temporary learning space.  Most gratifyingly, the children wore smiles on their faces and looked happy; this only in anticipation that a small space for them was being established and they would have a place to be with their friends and could engage in some fun activities. In other words, a chance to take their mind off of the horror that surrounded them. 

It was Oscar’s wife, a teacher herself, who led most of the activities for children in those early days. This was a woman who was badly affected herself, but gave her time to the children instead of salvaging her belongings and rebuilding her home. The children always came first.


Oscar’s wife, a teacher at the school her and her husband took shelter in during the storm, stands with one of the children her husband saved. She is now living at the school with her husband, Oscar, after their home was badly damaged by the Typhoon. Photo Credit: David Bloomer/Save the Children

As activities went on, I saw even more smiles on the faces of children the next day as they played with their friends and held cuddly soft toys. The scene at Panaloran School was one repeated over and over again in villages, communities and towns.  

Mali – Sponsorship Supports Schools

Picture 2 of blog author

Aboubacar Sogodogo, Basic Education Assistant


October 14, 2013

Thanks to sponsor generosity, our
programs support more than 50,000 children and work with 996 teachers in 264
schools in Sikasso and Yorosso districts. Like elsewhere in the country, lack
of qualification and an insufficient number of teachers are two of the many
issues that plague the education system in these districts. The most apparent
reason for the teacher shortage is the structural adjustment the government
went through in the 1990s when the Ministry of Education had to lay off hordes
of experienced teachers through early retirement and shut down all the teacher
training institutions.

Photo of a teacher in action1The teachers serving in the schools we
support often have different profiles, experience and qualifications. But broadly,
they fall into three categories:

Category 1: Teachers who have a
contract with the government through the Ministry of Education. The government
used to be the biggest teacher employer, but has now reduced its recruitment of
teachers, preferring to leave this responsibility to elected entities or

Category 2: Teachers who are employed
and paid by elected entities. Under the Malian decentralization law,
municipalities are responsible for running and supporting some key social
services such as health and education in their areas.
Photo of a teacher in action2

Category 3: Given the chronic shortage
of teachers and the inability of both government and municipalities to recruit
adequately, some communities hire and pay their own teachers with technical
support from the ministry of education.

Teachers in all three groups are either
certified by official teaching institutes or received crash, pre-service
training before being sent into the education system. Currently, more than 70%
of the teaching force in our sponsorship schools is made up of teachers from
categories 1 and 2. However, for job security, the government remains a
preferred employer for most teachers; it’s viewed as a permanent and regular
salary payer.

Whatever the employer, the ministry of
education remains the government arm responsible for policy guidance and
direction on all education matters. It’s also responsible for what teachers
teach and how they teach it.

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to find out more

Rita Weaves her Magic in Grade One Classroom


Sanjana Shrestha, Communication

Nepal Country Office

July 19, 2013

deters Rita, not even a room full of curious and mischievous first graders. On
a field trip to Kapilvastu, one of our sponsorship impact areas, I accidentally
stumbled into Rita’s classroom and listened to her teach numbers to eager and
excited first graders.

has drawn a chart with numbers and things that represent the number. For
example, the number 3 is represented by drawing of three cups alongside a “3.”
She engages in a discussion with children about how and why they use cups.
Children promptly answer that they drink tea from cups. She also encourages
children to find synonyms for cups in other languages. When it’s time to learn
about the number 4, she asks the children to count the number of windows in the
classroom. In Rita’s class, children not only learn about numbers, but also
about new words, language and discovering things on their own.

Nepal_blog_Rita in her classroom

Rita in her classroom

look around her classroom and I am captivated. Rita has covered the walls with pictures
and learning materials. Story books hang on a line that runs across the
classroom, children’s drawings are suspended from the ceiling and there are locally
made toys, games – and learning materials Rita made herself.

do not find teaching these children difficult. In fact, it’s more difficult to
stay home doing nothing,” says Rita, who lives an hour away and comes on a
bicycle every day. “My students help me in class. When I announce the lesson for
the day, they volunteer to bring learning materials needed for that class. One
of them always keeps the attendance register. The best part is when children
volunteer to bring water when anyone is sick in the class or needs to take

says that she started enjoying her job more when she participated in training
to make learning materials, “a door to new ways in which she could teach
children.” She sometimes gathers her first graders and makes teaching materials
with them, all the time asking them questions about what things they can make
from cutting papers in different shapes and sizes. She says learning materials
make children creative and more imaginative. When they see the lessons in
textbooks turned into something visual, they can understand very easily.

whose mother tongue is Tharu, uses Awadhi, the language they use at home, to
speak to her students. She is a bridge for her young wards in switching between

Nepal_blog_Rita with her students

Rita with her students

takes great pride in her first graders and the discipline they show in class,
even when they are playing games. She says, “I like the beautiful handwriting
the children are learning, and I like their questions. I hope they help their
grade two teacher like they did me.”

of her students Anita, 8, says, “I like my teacher a lot because she loves us
and tells stories to us.” Anita, who has been in grade one for the past three
years, is making huge progress this year with Rita as her teacher.

says, “Anita didn’t go to an ECD [early childhood development] center, but
started in grade 1. In the evening after school, she goes home to wash dishes
and cook. She can write and read Nepali and sometimes leads the class, and she counts
from one to hundred. She even asks me for difficult homework.” Rita is
confident Anita will pass grade one with flying colors this year.


Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.