Starting a new life in day care centers after Typhoon Yolanda
By Diana Valcarcel
TANAUAN, Philippines, 27 January 2014 - Christina Baguisa is only 4 years old, but she already sings like a professional. Her father Teodoro says she learned to sing from watching TV. Christina sang today in front of 184 children, day care workers and parents at the launch of back to learning in day care centres in Typhoon Yolanda-affected areas.
Under the leadership of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Office of the Municipal Mayor, UNICEF and partners are supporting an estimated 80,000 children aged 3 to 4 years old to return to day care centres.
Children from five barangays gathered at the Canramos gymnasium to attend the launch. Together with UNICEF's implementing partner INTERSOS, day care workers organized games and fun activities for the children, who were happy to go back to their normal life after two long months.
"Let's forget about the past. Let's forget about Yolanda. Now it's time to meet friends, learning and playing together," said UNICEF Education Officer Evangelina Cledera.
Day care centres give young children an opportunity to learn and play as part of their development, and prepare them to enter elementary school at the age of 5. Getting back to a routine of going to school helps children overcome the difficulties they have gone through during and after the typhoon.
Christina's father Teodoro is experiencing many challenges in raising his four children. His wife passed away two years ago, when Christina was just 2 years old. "I am a pedicab driver. My pedicab was washed out in the typhoon. I have been doing cash-for-work and receiving relief support," he said. Teodoro's main objective is that his four children finish their studies so they can have good jobs and earn enough money to live.
Going back to learning is not only good for children but also for parents. Teodoro will now have time to look for a job in the mornings while Christina is at the Santo Niño day care center. In the afternoon he takes care of his four children.
For teacher Marcelina Dado, the reopening of schools and day care centres is a bittersweet experience. "Two of my students died in the typhoon," she said, crying. "We don't have a school now. It's damaged. UNICEF has supported us with a tent and learning materials. We are very grateful."
Marcelina is Christina's teacher. "She is very smart. She easily learns lessons. She is a very happy girl and [is] interested in classes," she said. "During the morning, his father goes to work. But every afternoon, she is at Christina's side."
The song Christina sang in today's ceremony was about reaching dreams. Maybe many of the children, by going back to learning in the day care centers, have reached their dream of continuing their studies and preparing for elementary school. For their parents, even if they face many challenges like Teodoro, some of their dreams are being fulfilled by seeing their children back on the good path of education.