Sailors' Society's Cathy Paeste with pupils from Lipayran Integrated School

New school provides seafarers’ children with safe space to learn

Hundreds of Filipino pupils will no longer have to be taught in shacks and tents, thanks to a new storm-proof school built by maritime welfare charity Sailors’ Society.

The six-classroom school was built for the seafaring community of Lipayran island in the Philippines, which was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. The original buildings were not big enough to cater for everyone and some classrooms were little more than shacks, unable to withstand tropical storms.

The new school was put to the test almost immediately when Typhoon Rai (Odette) hit the Philippines in December. The building not only withstood the storm but provided emergency shelter for some 200 people.

Once pandemic restrictions lift, more than 800 children will benefit from the new facilities and Water and Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) training will be offered to local families.

Gavin Lim, Sailors’ Society’s regional development manager, Asia, said: “This has been a tremendous joint effort between us and our partners and it’s wonderful to see the hard work over the past couple of years come to fruition. We are so pleased to hand over the building to the school authorities and cannot wait for the day that they can open the doors to the children.

“We’re extremely grateful to The TK Foundation and the generosity of our other supporters for enabling this project. It will make a huge difference to the children, giving them a safe and comfortable space to learn, as well improving the long-term economic prospects for the community.”

The building will be multipurpose, serving as a school and as an emergency shelter from typhoons, as well as providing a base for adult education and other community activities. The new facilities include electricity, desks and chairs.

The build was funded with a grant from The TK Foundation, as well as funds raised through Sailors’ Society events and by Sailors’ Society’s Manila Ambassadors Group.

Jesper Karlshøj, Member of the Junior Board of The TK Foundation, said: “We were very eager to support the building of a new school for the families on Lipayran and it is fantastic that the school is ready to be put into use.

“Education of disadvantaged young people in seafaring communities has always been resonant with The TK Foundation’s mission, so we are proud to have supported such an ambitious and visionary project. We hope that this new school will have a lasting impact on the island community as a whole.”

Sailors’ Society worked in partnership with the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. and the local government (the Municipal of Bantayan and Barangay Lipayran governing council). As a government-run school, the Department of Education will cover ongoing costs including building maintenance, staff salaries and school supplies.

Sailors’ Society is a trusted charity partner in the Philippines and has an established track record of delivering projects for local seafaring communities, including rebuilding homes, schools and health centres in Cebu, Leyte and Bohol provinces.