Legazpi City, Albay – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) through its Field Office (FO) V has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Department of Education (DepEd) in the Bicol Region  and Educo, a non-government organization (NGO) based here, for the provision of food assistance to the volunteers of DepEd’s Emergency Brigada Eskwela who will help in the repair and rehabilitation of schools that were damaged by Typhoon Nina.

Emergency Brigada Eskwela involves the support of parents and potential stakeholders to do volunteer services, including the clean-up of school grounds and classrooms, repair of roofs, walls, and chairs, and assessment of electrical and water systems in order to make educational facilities conducive to learning again after being destroyed by disasters.

Under the agreement, the DSWD will provide food-for-work or family food packs (FFPs) in exchange for the work that will be carried out by the volunteers of the program, who are mostly victims of ‘Nina’.

Educo, a global development NGO for the welfare of children which has been present in Bicol since 2005, will help in overseeing the delivery of the food packs and its distribution to the volunteers.

The agreement was signed by DSWD FO V Director Arnel B. Garcia, DepEd Assistant Regional Director Tolentino G. Aquino, and Educo Logistics Manager Blesila B. Bongayal on January 10 at the FO V office.

“As observed from the communities, the attendance of pupils usually drops after the occurrence of typhoons, as children help their parents find food for the family,” Assistant Director Aquino revealed.

For his part,  Director Garcia said that the food-for-work program of the DSWD will be a great help to parents and community members who will provide volunteer services. They could provide food for their family and at the same time help in the rehabilitation of damaged schools.

DSWD FO V has already turned-over an initial 350 pieces of FFPs to DepEd to be given to the volunteers in Catanduanes and Camarines Sur provinces. It intends to allot 5,000 food packs for the program. The priority of the program includes select cities and municipalities in Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, and Masbate provinces.

According to the January 1 report of DepEd Bicol, a total of 625 damaged classrooms were reported in the region. Some 1,082 partially damaged classrooms need major repairs, while 988 partially damaged classrooms will need minor repairs.

DepEd’s School Maintenance Week, popularly known as Brigada Eskwela, is usually conducted a week before the opening of classes in June. However, due to the recent typhoon which damaged several schools, parent and community volunteers were tapped to help in the rehabilitation of the educational facilities.

DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo lauded this partnership with DepEd and urged other field offices of both Departments to replicate this initiative which can help victims to bounce back faster.

“The cooperation and coordination of government agencies to provide immediate assistance to Filipinos affected by calamities is very important. We can do more, help more Filipinos when we work collectively and unite behind the same goals. We can help our communities recover faster and rebuild their schools, hospitals, and other infrastructure through united efforts,” she said.

Remaining ‘Nina’-evacuees

Meanwhile, according to the 8pm, January 12 report of DSWD- Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information Center (DROMIC), there are still 146 families or 690 individuals currently staying in 14 evacuation centers in the municipalities of Bato, Bula, and Nabua in Camarines Sur.

DSWD FO V in coordination with the provincial local government unit continues to monitor these evacuees to ensure the provision of relief assistance.

‘Nina’ has affected a total of 547,242 families or 2,431,599 individuals in 2,012 barangays in Regions CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, V and VIII when it hit the country on December 24-27, 2016.

To date, a total of P250,757,295  worth of relief assistance has been provided to affected families from the combined resources of the Department  with P233,254,693 as well as LGUs and NGOs with a total of P6,118,832 and P11,383,770, respectively. ###