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Schoolchildren write 40,000 letters of hope

/ 01:46 AM December 20, 2013

“We will rise again for our country. Whatever is the test we are going through now, we have to be strong. Let’s pray to God even if we belong to different faiths.”

That short but heartwarming message, in Filipino, comes from Kimberly Capapas, a student at Sergio Osmeña National High School in Zamboanga del Norte.

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Capapas’ letter, along with thousands of others containing inspirational messages from individuals, mostly students, have been sent to the Visayas and to the Zamboanga region, where people have been rendered almost hopeless by tragedies at a time of supposed festivities.

“The letters are supposed to give hope to those areas devastated by disasters,” Kathleen Kho of the Department of Education (DepEd) office for regional operations, told the Inquirer on Thursday. The office is in charge of the Messages of Hope campaign.

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So far, more than 40,000 such letters have been sorted out at the DepEd central office, said Cash Maghirang, who is in charge of the campaign.

12 boxes

More than 140 volunteers—composed of private individuals and DepEd employees—classified the letters in boxes  variously labeled as “Tacloban,” “Samar,” “Eastern Samar,” “Leyte,” “Palawan,” “Cebu,” “Aklan/Antique/Capiz/ Iloilo,” “Bohol” and “Zamboanga.”

At one time or another, these areas have been hit by devastating calamities.

So far, 12 boxes of such letters have been sent to Region VIII, two boxes to the Zamboanga area, four boxes to Bohol, two boxes to Capiz and one box to Iloilo.

“They are being distributed with the help of the concerned (school division superintendents),” Maghirang said.

Text messages

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Kho said the DepEd office did not expect such an “overwhelming” response.

In fact, she said the campaign started only as text messages to the regional directors and school division superintendents. These officials were then encouraged to send the messages to the survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda.”

Less than a week later, Kho said, “boxes and boxes of letters” written by students and other private individuals from across the country were sent to the DepEd central office.

The concept expanded to include Bohol and Zamboanga, which had been ravaged by an earthquake and armed conflict, respectively.

Notes of inspiration left by DepEd employees in several dropboxes in the headquarters were also eventually included in the campaign, she said.

“It’s so heartwarming. One letter said, ‘I love you.’ Another said (in Filipino), ‘Hope you will always think that we are here for you,’” Kho said.

Some children even took the time to decorate the letters with drawings and other colorful designs, she added.

More letters coming

According to Kho, the volume of the letters was such that it was difficult to know specifically where Capapas’ letter went.

At one point, she said, DepEd employees had to use another vacant room to store all the boxes.

“They couldn’t fit here (in the Office of the Undersecretary for regional operations) anymore,” she said.

In fact, Kho said, more letters had been coming in even after the more than 40,000 earlier letters had been delivered.

“It’s really very touching. You see the solidarity of the people in the country,” she said.

She said those letters would be sent to the different areas through the Office of the Undersecretary for External Linkages, which is in charge of sending out donations.

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TAGS: Disasters, faith and hope, letters, Philippines, schoolchildren, Supertyphoon Yolanda, tragedies
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