Kids in earthquake-hit villages missing school

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TAYASAN, Negros Oriental—Ten-year-old Galileo Balasabas Jr. cannot wait to get back to school.

Being in the company of his classmates and friends will definitely be much better to the life he had in the weeks following the February 6 earthquake that devastated this northern town as well as Jimalalud and La Libertad and Guinhulngan City.

But there will not be much of a school to return to when classes resume Monday.

Instead of having classes inside the classroom, the pupils of Matauta Elementary School will have classes in an open field because of the damage to all their classrooms.

“We are appealing for donations of tarpaulin sheets for our improvised classrooms,” said Emily Balasabas, barangay (village) captain of Matauta and president of the Parents, Teachers and Community Association. Emily said donors may text her through her mobile phone No. 09261552286.

Dr. Marilyn S. Andales, provincial schools division superintendent of Negros Oriental, said they were submitting a report of damaged schools to the Department of Education central office.

Since the earthquake struck, Galileo has been tagging along with his mother, Emily, to keep himself busy.

The boy didn’t show any sign of trauma and would talk about his experience on February 6.

“We were about to be dismissed when the earthquake struck,” he narrated. “First, we lay on the floor. When the earthquake got stronger, our teacher told us to run outside. If we did not do so, I might have been hit by the falling cabinet,” Galileo said.

Everyone rushed outside, leaving their school bags in the classroom, which still remained unclaimed as of Friday.

Some pupils, however, were not like Galileo.

“My granddaughter would not eat. She would stare at a distance,” said Luciana Sameon. She said her granddaughter was on her way home from school when the earthquake struck.

Floripas Balasabas, the town midwife, said her 10-year-old daughter also developed fear after she saw their house swaying. “She doesn’t want to go back to school,” Floripas said. She said her daughter regained some confidence when she talked with their parish priest. “But she doesn’t want to talk about what happened,” she added.

Sameon said they were grateful for the help given by various groups that donated rice, sardines and noodles.

Among them was Energy Development Corp. (EDC), whcih distributed bags of relief goods to households in barangays Matauta, Banga and Tamao, all in Tayasan.

Dwight Maxino, EDC vice president for Southern Negros Geothermal Production Field, said this was the third wave of relief operations, which also saw the distribution of relief goods to households in barangays Bangkal, Camandayon and Baye in Jimalalud town.

Now that their need for food is being addressed, the residents of Matuata are asking that their school building be repaired.

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