Australian Embassy
The Philippines

MR131209 - Australian Soldiers and sailors help kids go back to school in Ormoc

Australian Soldiers and sailors help kids go back to school in Ormoc
09 December 2013

Australian Defence Force engineers and sailors working in Ormoc as part of a ‘Recovery Support Force’ have focused their clean-up efforts on local schools, helping more than 14,500 students return to classes at 13 schools since school started back on December 2nd.

Since arriving at San Antonio beach from Australian amphibious ship ‘Tobruk’ on November 27th, the Australian troops have been busy, cleaning up the schools in partnership with the Australian Government and Philippines Department of Education.

The troops’ efforts over the past 12 days have repaired 175 classrooms, removing over 850 cubic metres of debris and recycling which filled 185 truckloads.

Lieutenant Colonel Rod Lang, Commander of the Australian Task Force, said the schools were badly damaged by the typhoon and he was proud of the efforts of the troops cleaning up the schools.

“Just to see all the kids back at school after we’ve been here for just over a week is a really inspiring feeling,” he said.

The efforts of the task force and over 140 local labourers has, according to local Department of Education figures, allowed more than 14,500 children able to attend classes at their local schools this past week. The troops have removed debris, patched or re-roofed buildings and removed dangerous structures.

Mrs Anacorita Brilata, Principal of Liloan National High School, thanked the Australian forces for helping over 900 students to return to her school last week.

“We are very thankful and very appreciative of the people of Australia for sending us their volunteers to fix our classrooms. (They) have done so much for us, thank you very much,” she said.

The Australian Defence Force established Operation ‘Philippines Assist’ to support Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations following Typhoon Haiyan.

The ADF support to the Philippines recovery has included Army Engineers, amphibious ship Tobruk and Air Force C-130 and C-17 aircraft.

The Australian planes have been delivering aid to Tacloban, Ormoc, Guiuan and Roxas since November 13th. The ship delivered aid to Bantayan Islands last week.

Approximately 500 ADF personnel have been supporting the operation.