|Children do their best to learn in an over-crowded classroom|
© UNICEF Philippines/2009/Andy Brown
The focus of the trip was on schools being used as evacuation centres. I was travelling with Martijn, who was looking at the impact on children’s education, and Hirut, who was testing a new needs assessment form.
The first evacuation centre, in San Pedro Elementary School, was quite chaotic. The 200 families living there had been told that the military would be arriving the next day to transfer them to a ceramics warehouse. While the education team met local officials, I went with a teacher to interview evacuees. I was quickly surrounded by a large crowd of people demanding food, money and supplies. They were clearly desperate and I knew from my security training how these situations can turn ugly. With the teacher’s help, I explained that my job was to report on their situation, in order to try and raise more money, but that I couldn’t personally promise them anything. Eventually they calmed down but it was an unnerving experience.