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June 10 2015 | ISABEL, PHILIPPINES

"Fiesta" in Matlang, in the Philippines, where the typhoon had wreaked havoc: the School of peace and hope is opened

"Today, we no longer feel isolated, Sant'Egidio has built a bond of solidarity for which we are very grateful", said mons. Du, Bishop of the affected area one year ago, at the opening of the school, which is already home to 170 children.

 
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One year and a half ago, Typhoon Yolanda hit the Philippines hard, causing in a few hours over six thousand deaths and leaving sixteen million people homeless.

 On the island of Leyte, although the population has worked tirelessly, you can still see the signs of its passage: the coconut trees broken, the roads cut off, the pitch black of night, the blackout schedule.

 The shock and fear are still being felt among the people. The sea and the peaceful landscape, country life away from the hustle and bustle of the capital Manila, together with the faith of the people and the proverbial kindness of the people, seem to mitigate the pain for what has happened. The delegation of the Community of Sant'Egidio has received a great reception. Waiting for her there was the Archbishop of Palo Mons. John Du with some priests, civil authorities but above all the teachers, the children and families of elementary school just rebuilt.

It was not easy to complete the building: materials and labour were in short supply due to the demands nationwide, while a few have gone so far on the outskirts of the island. In the area there are no public schools, but few can afford to pay the fees of private institutions. The Community has been able to follow the different phases of the work, faithfully visiting the village of Matlang and "St. Augustine" parish, which runs the school. Six classes, cool and airy (the heat is felt a lot), were completed in time for the start of the school year: 170 children are already enrolled including kindergarten and primary schools.

The teachers and staff thanked with emotion the Community for having been faithful, in closeness to those that have suffered, and for giving them a school "of hope and peace", as reads the plaque blessed by Pope Francis during his visit last January. The children, smiling and excited, expressed their joy by dancing and singing. The archbishop, gathering the feelings of many, said: "I remember my visit to Rome and the talk with the community, they immediately accepted our request for help. Today we no longer feel isolated, Sant'Egidio has built a bond of solidarity for which we are very grateful". After the ribbon cutting and blessing of the classrooms, there was a real "fiesta" in Filipino style, a banquet for all with the specialties of the place, with the demand to continue to grow the school and friendship that was created.

 

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