UN Secretary-General visits UNICEF-supported school in Tacloban
Delivers message of hope and solidarity
TACLOBAN, Philippines, 21 December 2013 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon visited Tacloban today, where six weeks ago Super Typhoon Yolanda left several regions in tatters.
Ban said that he wanted to see firsthand the destruction and to remind people that the United Nations would stand strong with them through the recovery efforts.
His first stop was to the Manlurip Elementary School, in the San Jose neighbourhood, one of the many schools that took a beating from the typhoon. Seven out of the nine classrooms were severely damaged, depriving the over 370 students and nine teachers not only of their learning space, but one of the most important touchstones in their lives. UNICEF supplied tarpaulins to cover the roofs, constructed a tent to serve as a temporary learning space, and supplied school and recreational materials. The UNDP assisted in clearing up the thick debris on the school grounds.
"Never despair, there is hope," Ban told dozens of children inside the tent.
Even though it was a Saturday, children came to school wish the Secretary-General a merry Christmas, and to back it up with a rousing version of "Jingle Bells," sung in tropical temperatures nearing the 80s. With the UN chief clapping along, Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon "Dinky" Juliano-Soliman and UNICEF Emergency Coordinator for the Typhoon Yolanda Response Angela Kearney led children in singing the Yuletide classic.
"Children feel safe when they can go to school every day," said Kearney. "The government's determination to get as many children in school as possible by early January will be a huge gift to them and to the entire community."