Pagnamitan Elementary School is known as the mother school in Eastern Samar, having been in the region since the American period. The school had just undergone improvements when Typhoon Yolanda struck. It had a huge stage, a big covered social hall, four electric fans to keep students comfortable, a mini-library and a kindergarten room complete with tiled comfort room and lavatory — a small piece of luxury for Guiuanons.

Sadly, the school almost completely collapsed under Yolanda’s fury. Today, teacher-in-charge Socorro Calvadores and three other teachers make do with only two tattered classrooms for their 61 students. Doors and windows are still broken. Tarpaulin sheets serve as roof. Teaching tools are just borrowed from other schools.

San Fernando Elementary School, with the third largest elementary school population in Basey, Eastern Samar, suffered a similar fate. The school had a modest-sized canteen, covered walkway and landscaping. A computer center had just been completed. The school was just 100 meters away from the sea. Waters rose to as high as the roof during the storm surge, washing away everything.

Yolanda took a heavy toll on students. Principal Ester Onate- Sim notes in the vernacular,“Those who had siblings who died, no longer returned to school because of deep sadness.Others needed to help their parents rebuild their houses and lives.” Socorro admitted that the broken school building would be far easier to fix than the broken spirits of their students.

Operation Blessing Foundation Philippines’ feeding program is helping these school leaders motivate their students to go back to school. “On the first day of Operation Blessing’s feeding program, the students’ joy was palpable because it was the first time that they had a lot of food to eat together,” Socorro shared. Students of Pagnamitan enjoyed Operation Blessing’s feeding program so much that even if the weather was not so good, they would still go to school knowing that they would have healthy and filling meals.“Operation Blessing’s feeding program proved to be a big help in inspiring students to go back to school.”

Seeing their children regain their enthusiasm for learning, parents happily volunteered in preparing nutritious meals during the 30-day feeding program.“We are so grateful for Operation Blessing’s feeding program It is a big help for the students and their families,” the principal adds.