Three years after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Bohol and damaged the dormitories housing our deaf students, the Loon Special Education (SPED) students have been provided with a fully furnished, two-story dormitory designed to withstand earthquakes.
The memory of that traumatic earthquake is still fresh to all who lived through it, but we also remember the gracious gifts that came because of the tragedy. The gift of the new dormitory is thanks to the collaboration of our two partner organizations – the Christian Blind Mission (CBM) and the R.C. Trust.
On Tuesday, October 18, the students and local officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Loon South Central Elementary School to celebrate the dormitory opening. The program included students, CBM’s Regional Director, Emergency Response Manager and staff, R.C. Trust’s representative, the Loon Municipal Mayor, Elvie Peter Relampagos, the Schools Division Superintendent from the Department of Education, Dr. Wilfreda Bongalos, the SPED Coordinator, Ms. Carmelita Restificar and the School Principal, Mrs. Maricel Mero. The hearts of all attendees were warmed to see the beaming faces of the children enjoying their new dorm. Some were brought to tears as they witnessed the students performing various dances and song interpretation as their way of expressing their heartfelt gratitude.
The dorm is truly a luxury for the students, providing an entirely new quality of living. At home, many students have cramped quarters and leaking roofs. In the dorm, they enjoy a safe place and such luxury comfort as a foam mattress.
The dormitory also accommodates our students’ additional safety needs. Its emergency alarm system is designed especially well for the deaf with strobe light fire alarms, flashing light signals, and visual guidance to emergency routes. It is also built with wheelchair access ramps, wide doorways enough for a wheelchair user, adequate handrails and grab bars, and toilets with sufficient space to allow a wheelchair user to move around comfortably. In all aspects, the students are well cared for. Although the dorm has generous space for the current 50 resident deaf children, it is designed to be able to accommodate as many as 100 students. This dormitory was designed with an eye on the future.
Our most significant opportunities are indeed found in times of greatest challenge. A million thanks again to CBM and R.C. Trust for helping us rebuild a home for our deaf students. We at IDEA can’t wait to see these kids create new memories in their beautiful new home.