Through the night of November 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan ripped through the central islands of the Philippines, completely devastating many communities. In Tacloban, on the island of Leyte, a five-meter storm surge washed over the city. The scenes of destruction were particularly harrowing, and dominated the world’s media for weeks thereafter.
In the immediate aftermath, Colliers International staff in the Philippines supported relief efforts by donating food, clothing and emergency supplies, repackaging these at the government’s Central Relief Operations Center in Manila. At the same time, via the Colliers USA Foundation, the company established the Colliers Philippines Typhoon Fund as a vehicle for Colliers staff globally to donate in support of a longer-term reconstruction project. Ultimately the fund raised US$56,000, principally through the generosity of individual staff.
By February 2014, we had identified the reconstruction of the Curva Elementary School as a project that desperately required support. The Curva school sits on a hilltop in Medellin, northern Cebu, a three-hour drive from Cebu City, and has an enrollment of 540 students. Six of the school’s classrooms had been completely destroyed, and the other five were unusable. One unexpected discovery after the typhoon was that many wooden desks from the school were found wholly intact in a sugar field seven kilometres away!
The contribution from Colliers was enough to fund two classrooms. So we quickly teamed up with our project-management affiliate JPM, the Harvard Club of the Philippines, and our clients Cognizant and The Results Company to deliver the entire 11-classroom project. Funding was routed via the Aboitiz Foundation, which has charitable status in the Philippines.
The first fully-fitted classrooms were turned over in December 2014, and all the construction wrapped up in March 2015. There will be minor furnishing work over the summer holiday. The funding has also covered the donation of a new library and school supplies. The school will be fully operational when the students return to their studies in early June.