Everyone remembers the super typhoon that devastated the country in 2013. Who could forget the damage it caused not just to the many infrastructures but also to countless of lives lost? In truth, anyone who has seen photos and videos and who has read stories about the catastrophic event was gravely affected. One need not be present to see and feel the helplessness it left behind.
As we near the second anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, it’s uplifting to know that rebuilding is in progress. Tacloban, one of the cities that were hit by the super storm, is healing —- and the kids are proof that hope is alive and life can flourish again, thanks to the efforts of kind-hearted individuals.
A group of friends opened a library in Tacloban City in September and called it Learning Lab (Laro, Aral, Basa) @ Old Kawayan. It planted its roots in a hut located in the outskirts of the city proper, and serves as a hub where kids can learn and play.
"My friends and I want to give back, kasi naghirap rin kami," says one member of the group who call themselves “Unlifriends.” He says the disaster opened his eyes to many things that needed to be done to rebuild communities after disaster struck. “Nakaka-guilty to think that the cost of a dinner or drinking session with friends is enough to feed 80 kids," he said in an interview with Coconuts Manila.
Learning LAB has academic and fiction books for young readers, plus toys for kids as young as toddlers. It is open 24/7. Sometimes, the scholars and other kids who study and review in the library can even stay overnight.
This is the second Learning LAB that opened in the area. The first one opened in April in the city proper, and it caters to street children who live in the area.
The idea behind this local library is spot on. Psychologist Jasmin Castillo-Merejilla, M.A., R.P., executive director of Childfam Philippines Company, says that play, artwork, and journaling are creative tools that may help children cope with trauma. While children may be emotionally and psychologically scarred because of a traumatizing event such as Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, all is not lost. With the help and support of people around them, they can pick themselves up and live the life they have always wanted.
The buck doesn’t end here, though. Rebulding lives is an ongoing process. After almost two years, there is still much to be done.
If you’d like to donate to Learning LAB, go to Facebook.com/coconutsmanila.