Remarks by USAID Deputy Mission Director Reed Aeschliman, Handover of Post-Disaster Education Assistance Package to Leyte Schools

Thursday, January 30, 2014

[As Prepared]

Regional Director Dr. Luisa Yu,
Superintendent Dr. Ronelo Firmo,
Superintendent Dr. Mariza Magan,
DepEd Supervisors, Principals,
Teachers, Students and Parents

Maupay nga aga.

It is my pleasure to be with you today as we handover this assistance package from the American people through the U.S. Embassy Manila’s United States Agency for International Development.

I am delighted to see the children and teachers back in school. Your courage and optimism in the midst of this devastation is truly inspiring. I am happy to see the students smiling again.

Ten months ago, I visited your town and was impressed by the diligence of the Warays. Today, I have seen your most profound trait -- your unbreakable spirit.

The scale of destruction of Super Typhoon Yolanda that struck on November 8 and ravaged Eastern Visayas is beyond comprehension. Following disasters such as these, the provision of basic education services is of great importance. Education helps normalize the lives of children, and helps communities stabilize. Education allows children, teachers, and parents to again hope for the future and look forward to a better tomorrow. Education can also mitigate the effects of catastrophes in the future by inculcating disaster preparedness in children and parents alike.

Seeing education as an important component in post-disaster rehabilitation and following the lead of the Philippine Government, USAID, through its flagship basic education program, Basa Pilipinas, is providing teaching and learning kits, back-to-school kits, and trainings for teachers on psychosocial support services. Over 100 schools in the divisions of Ormoc and Leyte will receive these education kits, benefiting nearly 13,000 students and about 600 teachers. This assistance is part of the nearly US$88 million (Php3.7 billion) support provided by the American people to help you recover from this catastrophe.

But despite the tragedy, I am confident that your incredible resiliency will help you in rebuilding your lives. The United States and the Philippines are “best friends” or as you all say, B-F-Fs. And as your friend, the United States will continue to be there to help.

To our Philippine Government partners, let me reaffirm our commitment to help restore normalcy in the lives of affected families, especially the children as we continue to work toward our shared goal of accelerating broad-based and inclusive growth.

To the students here today, I admire your courage in going back to school after the earthquake. Like your favorite superheroes, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, you are all strong and brave to face the challenges that will come your way. Your “powers” will be even stronger when you continue to listen to your parents and teachers and learn.

Damo nga salamat!

Palo, Leyte
Issuing Country