Soldiers and sailors get kids back to school in the Philippines
6 December 2013
Soldiers from 3rd Construction Engineer Regiment and sailors from HMAS Tobruk deployed to Ormoc in the Philippines have focused their clean-up efforts on schools, helping more than 10,000 students return to classes this week.
Since deploying from HMAS Tobruk in an amphibious operation on 27 November, the troops have been busy, cleaning up nine key schools and 155 classrooms in the Ormoc area.
Sapper Jack Hill from 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment said the schools were a real mess when they arrived and he was proud of his efforts in cleaning them up.
“Just to see all the kids back at (this) school … after we’ve been here for two days is a really inspiring feeling,” he said.
The efforts of the task force and locals has, according to local Philippine officials, allowed more than 15,000 children to attend sessions at their local school this week. The troops have removed debris, patched or re-roofed buildings and removed dangerous structures.
Mrs Anacorita Brilata Principal of Liloan National High School thanked the Australian forces for helping more than 900 students to return to her school this week.
“We are very thankful and very appreciative of the people of Australia for sending us their volunteers to fix our classrooms …you have done so much for us. Thank you very much,” she said.
As of 3 December the clean-up had produced about 530 cubic metres of debris, which filled 120 dump trucks.
The ADF has established Operation PHILIPPINES ASSIST to support Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations following Typhoon Haiyan.
The ADF commitment includes command and control elements from the Brisbane-based Deployable Joint Force Headquarters, Army Engineers from 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment, Amphibious ship HMAS Tobruk and Air Force C-130J Hercules and C-17A Globemaster aircraft.
Approximately 500 ADF personnel are supporting the operation.