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Lahaina Rotarians working to help children of storm-ravaged Tacloban City

By Staff | Jun 2, 2016

Rotary Club of Lahaina member Rick Nava meets students at A.P. Banez Memorial Elementary School in Tacloban City.

LAHAINA – Lahaina resident and Rotarian Rick Nava was stunned by the devastation during a recent visit to Tacloban City in the Philippines.

On Nov. 8, 2013, the city was destroyed by one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, Haiyan.

“Because Tacloban City is no longer in the news, most people believe all is well now in Tacloban,” explained Nava, who is of Filipino descent.

This is not the case, with many citizens hard-pressed to access clean water and sanitation.

Nava traveled to the Philippines from March 18 to April 3 to attend the Rotary District 3810 Conference at The Manila Hotel and to check on the Sanitation and Water Project Rotary Club of Lahaina members are pursuing with Rotarians there.

Tacloban City in the Philippines was destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013.

Nava noted, “The Sanitation and Water Project is the second project that our club has supported in the Philippines. First project that we did was in 2003, when we helped finance and purchase 240 wheelchairs for the people of the Philippines.

“One of the most powerful experiences for me while distributing the wheelchairs was when a 72-year-old lady held my hand and said to me, ‘Thank you for coming to the Philippines and helping us with a wheelchair. For the first time in my life, I have a wheelchair.’ “

The next idea involved the Rotary Club of Lahaina providing water filters to give Manila residents access to potable water.

That city was chosen, because the Rotary Club of Paco Manila is the Lahaina group’s sister club.

Rotarian Rex Raz, who is from Tacloban City, suggested that Lahaina Rotarians should look into doing the project there instead.

A recently completed project at A.P. Banez Memorial Elementary School created a washroom and clean, safe water source for 800-plus students, staff, faculty members, their families and the surrounding community.

The Rotary Clubs of Lahaina, Paco Manila, and Tacloban – working with Melchor Canete of the Rotary Club of Leyte, Gulf, who was in charge of the project – decided to build a toilet and wash station for the 800-plus students of A.P. Banez Memorial Elementary School in Tacloban City.

Nava was there for the ribbon cutting ceremony on March 28.

The students at the large school had been using an outhouse.

Nava wants to keep working on projects that help deliver basic needs to the people of the Philippines.

“Sanitation and clean, safe water is a major focus in Rotary. Because most of the schools and communities do not have sanitation and clean, safe water, I want to continue to work with the Rotary Club of Paco Manila, Rotary Club of Tacloban, and Rotary Club of Leyte, Gulf,” Nava said. The Rotary Club of Calgary, South may also join in the effort.

“Other than just sanitation and water, I want to help and provide the youths of Tacloban slippers, school supplies, toothbrushes and toothpaste. All of these items we take for granted. However, most children of Tacloban City can’t afford to have these,” Nava commented.

In addition, Nava and Rotarians want to purchase school supplies for the children of Dr. A. P. Banez Memorial, Camansihay, and Manlurip Elementary School.

At Camansihay Elementary School, a water pump and water filter are needed for the 400-plus students, staff, their families and the surrounding community. Rotarians also want to launch a vegetable garden at the school.

Manlurip Elementary has one computer for its 280-plus students, faculty and administration. Rotarians want to equip the school with two computers and printers for 12 teachers.

Donations for the projects to help in Tacloban City can be made payable to Lahaina Rotary Youth Foundation, a 501(c)(3) corporation. Checks can be mailed to 181 Lahainaluna Road, Suite A, Lahaina, HI 96761.