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Lahaina Rotarians help deliver clean water to villages in the Philippines

By Staff | Apr 27, 2017

The Rotary Club of Lahaina was able to construct two towers with 1,100-liter water tanks to serve Lorenzo Daa Elementary School in Paglaum and Camansihay Elementary School in Camansihay in the Philippines.

LAHAINA – Lahaina Rotarians were among a group of Maui residents who recently traveled to the Philippines to help people living near Tacloban City, who are still recovering from the devastation of powerful Hurricane Haiyan in November 2013.

Rick Nava of the Rotary Club of Lahaina went with the group to check on two clean water projects that the club sponsored and distribute more than 200 pounds of school supplies purchased in Hawaii for five schools.

With the support of the Rotary Clubs of Calgary, South; Lahaina Sunset; Tacloban; and Paco Manila, the Rotary Club of Lahaina was able to construct two towers with 1,100-liter water tanks to serve Lorenzo Daa Elementary School in Paglaum and Camansihay Elementary School in Camansihay.

The water is filtered and connected to water distribution sites centrally placed on the school grounds.

At both schools and the surrounding communities, their water source had been rain.

“When they do not have rain, there is not water for the school, and they must go to the polluted river for their water source,” Nava explained.

“Both schools and most of the villages outside of Tacloban City rely on the rain and polluted river for their water.”

The group – which also included Nava’s wife, Rina; Mila Salvador, the current International Service chair of the Rotary Club of Lahaina and past president; reigning Miss Hawaii Filipina Emily Laborte; Maui Filipino Community Council President Elmer Tolentino and his wife, Shirley; Yvette Laborte; Shelley Hee; Diana Yamamoto; 2015 Miss Maui Filipina Casey Salcedo and her dad, Roland; and Rhod Casio – was joined by Bob McNatt, past president of the Rotary Club of Lahaina, who now resides in Tacloban six months out of the year.

The group delivered food to an orphanage in Manila and participated in a feeding program sponsored by President Rodrigo Duterte in Tacloban.

“Though it was very touching to be able to feed the children, I would love to do more for them other than just providing them a meal for a day,” Rick said.

The school supplies and books were distributed to four elementary schools in Tacloban City and one in Manila.

“We brought with us over 1,000 individual pencil sharpeners that we gave to every student, along with several manual pencil sharpeners that can be placed in the classrooms and common areas in the schools,” Rick explained.

“The pencil sharpener was a suggestion from a friend and a fellow Rotarian of the Rotary Club of Paco Manila, Rex Raz. Rex grew up in Tacloban. He told me that when he was growing up in Tacloban, they either had to bite their pencil to have it sharpened or use a knife. He feels smarter when his pencil is sharp and that he writes much better; and, what comes to his mind, he is able to write it a lot more fluidly when his pencil is sharp.”

Rick said the Maui travelers were grateful for the experience and inspired to continue to help the people of the Philippines, especially in Tacloban.

When his cousin, Elmer Tolentino, saw the living condition of the people and the schools, he was so moved that he donated 50,000 pesos ($1,000). Raz also made a donation of 100,000 pesos to help continue to provide clean water for the people of Tacloban City.

Last year, Rick trekked to the same area to launch a washroom and clean, safe water source for 800-plus students, staff, faculty members, their families and the surrounding community at A.P. Banez Memorial Elementary School.

He plans to return in August to work on another clean water and sanitation project in Tacloban City for the 1,306 people of Santa Elena and the 200-plus students of Santa Elena Elementary School.

Santa Elena is located 15 miles away from the outskirts of Tacloban City. Water infrastructure was damaged during the storm, and most of the people in the area drink unclean river water.

“The Clean Water Project for the 1,306 people of Barangay Santa Elena will be a much bigger project than the two we’ve completed for Barangay Paglaum and Barangay Camansihay,” Rick noted.

“This project will consist of three 2,000-liter overhead water tanks. Just like the other two projects, the water source will be underground water and will be pumped via a solar-powered pump. Water will then be filtered before it gets to the water distribution centers. A water distribution center and a wash station will be built in the school grounds, and another water distribution will be constructed outside of the school for the people to have access to clean water 24/7. This project will cost $12,500. The Rotary Club of Lahaina will again spearhead this project.”

Rick is passionate about providing these villages with clean, safe water – “something that we on Maui take for granted.

“Clean water is life. Clean water is a human right. Because the people from these rural areas do not have any choice, and in order for them to survive, they use the water from a river that is contaminated. It is my goal to help provide clean water to as many villages as I can in the Philippines, where I was born. It is my hope that our community will help me with my effort to provide clean water to as many people as we can all over the country,” he added.

To support the clean water project, mail a tax-deductible donation to the Lahaina Rotary Youth Foundation, 181 Lahainaluna Road, Suite A, Lahaina, HI 96761.