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Zambo Siege Survivors return to school for Solidarity

Three years after the tragic dawn of September 9, still visible are the ruins of struck bullets and the dilapidated classrooms that are ready for renovation and re-construction.

The memories of the past have flashed back. Through the painful scenarios that have captured right before them, a resilient community has emerged and triumphed through the challenging years.

The teachers and parents who came back as the gates have finally opened to begin the 6-day Brigada Eskwela 2016 truly made them more ready enough to move forward and begin anew.

After more than a year of enduring the makeshift classrooms in Zamboanga City East Central School, finally, the students from Sta.Barbara Central School can once again enjoy the comforts of having their classrooms in the learning corners of their original school.

Sitti Nurhiya Alih, a Pantawid Parent Leader from Sta.Barbara whose family has been displaced due to the conflict, was forced to stay at the Grandstand Evacuation Center when their humble abode was swallowed by a huge fire and razed down to the grounds at the height of the crisis. “Tupok na tupok ang bahay namin, hindi namin inaasahan na aabot sa ganon dahil akala namin sa loob ng tatlong araw matatapos na”

With high hopes, she only wished that they can go back to their home to begin a better life but she’s grateful enough to know that finally her 4 children won’t be spending too much in order to reach their school from the Asinan Transitory Site where they were temporarily stayed for refuge. “Ang mga anak ko tuwang tuwa dahil dati rati kailangan nilang gumising ng alas singko ng umaga kung saan kailangan ng dalawang sakayan para makarating sa paraalan. Kapag dito na silang muli, malapit na at  malalakad na lamang ito mula sa Transitory Site”

The school which was under the conflict area was one of the greatly affected during the first few weeks of heavy exchange of fires between the armed groups and the military forces in the 21-day Zamboanga Siege.

Armed with broomsticks and cleaning paraphernalia, Pantawid Pamilya including MCCT Beneficiaries of Sta.Barbara and Zone 4 joined the Brigada Eskwela kick-off with an overwhelming presence together with other stakeholders.

Sitti Nurhiya together with other 17 Parent Leaders and members of the program actively submitted themselves to participate in this nationwide school maintenance week. “Bilang constituent ng Sta.Barbara dapat namin ito muling itayo, laking pasasalamat na makakabalik na ang mga anak namin dito. Ito po ay taus puso naming inihahandog para sa aming mga anak at sa ikakaunlad ng paaralang ito”

The activity is a heart-warming comeback where beneficiaries have played great roles in the significant re-opening of the campus. Prior to the kick-off activity, School Principal Ms.Daisy Ebrada recognized the presence and help of the beneficiaries especially in the detachment of makeshift classrooms and the immediate transfer of school properties from the Zamboanga City East Central School to Sta.Barbara Central School. “Simula nung kame ay nagkaroon Pre-Brigada Eskwela, naging malaki na ang kontribusyon ng mga beneficiaries lalong lalo na mabilis na pagtransfer.Kahit mga babae ay nagagawa nilang magbuhat ng mga upuan at libro. Araw araw sila ang katuwang namin dito” She added.

The school principal said that the classrooms may not be enough to accommodate the standard proportion student size since there are only twenty two available classrooms including the two newly constructed rooms for all grade levels. The rest of the school buildings that are still under construction are part of the Zamboanga Z3R project plan. She knew that the pressing challenge might be the increase of enrolees during the enrolment period, but she’s certain enough that this can be managed.

The activity has once again recorded its success as different stakeholders expressed their contribution for the school through their commitment to contribute in the renovation works.

The Brigada Skwela has indeed enforced solidarity among stakeholders in all walks of life whose goal is to provide the students with safe, clean and conducive facilities in order to facilitate better learning experiences in preparation for the opening of classes on June 13. It is a proof how possible community involvement participated by the different partners can be fostered through remarkable volunteerism and upholding Bayanihan spirit.

This year was anchored on the theme: “Tayo para sa Paaralang Ligtas, Maayos at Handa mula Kindergarten Hanggang Senior High School” ##

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