Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it. (Hellen Keller)
When disaster hit the Philippines on November 8, 2013 with the arrival of Super Typhoon Haiyan at 195 miles per hour, the strongest tropical cyclone to ever make landfall, the Year 9 students from Rainford High Technology College, together with their Form Tutors, felt compelled to help, embracing the school ethos of ‘Everyone Matters, Everyone Helps, Everyone Succeeds’. 13 million people were affected in the area; 2 million were left homeless just before Christmas and in some areas 90% of the housing was destroyed.
Following a PSHE lesson about the disaster and considering how Rainford students could help, Matthew in Year 9 felt that more could be done to help the people in the Philippines with the involvement of the Rotary Club of St Helens. Matthew was aware that the Rotary Club were involved with ShelterBox whose key aims are to provide Shelter, Warmth and Dignity following a natural or man-made disaster. Within 24 hours he had initiated communication between his Uncle, Simon Hairsnape, Rotary Club Publicity Officer and his Form Tutor Mrs Wilkes-Siddeley.
Together with a fellow Rotarian John Frodsham, Mr Alan Dickinson, Community Projects Team Leader demonstrated the Shelter box and its contents to Year 9 students during a special assembly inspiring them to launch an inter-form competition to raise as much money as possible to help the people of the Philippines.
Within a few weeks the students were well on their way to reaching the target of £590 needed to fund the purchase and transport of one ShelterBox to the disaster zone, enough to shelter, and equip for survival, a family of up to 10 people. One Form Group, 9PLN, managed to raise just short of £100 and in the last days of term before Christmas the whole school embraced the fund raising effort by contributing 1/3 of the money raised from an ‘Own Clothes Day’ towards the Shelter Box appeal.
Overall £725 was raised and a cheque was proudly presented by Matthew and his friend Sam to the St Helens Rotary Club on 24th January. The money will not only provide a home for a large family but also provide much needed tool kits for people desperate to rebuild their lives.
Mrs Wilkes-Siddeley said, “I am very proud of the way in which our Year Group, both students and Form Tutors alike, took this cause to their hearts. At a time when many other charities were asking for support our students found a way to dig deeper and help a group of people on the other side of the World whose lives had been decimated. Their enterprise and enthusiasm was infectious and they are a credit to the school.”
The students will soon receive a tracking code from the Rotary Club to enable them to monitor via the internet the progress of their ShelterBox to the disaster zone.
It is said that ‘Christmas doesn’t come in a box’ but this year, thanks to the Year 9 students of Rainford High Technology College, for one family in the Philippines, it did!