Holcim Philippines, MWF champion DepEd’s WASH in Schools through LCFWinS

Adjusting to the changes and the “new normal” has been a real challenge for teachers, pupils and parents alike, according to Teacher Niño of Sapang Kawayan Elementary School (SKES) in Norzagaray, Bulacan.

With the disruption of face-to-face classes and the limited access to the internet, pupils of SKES need morenon-digital instructional resources, especially on the prevention of COVID-19. This is to ensure that their learning continues despite the pandemic. “Ito pong area namin, mahirap po talaga ang internet access. Kaya po ‘yung mga [mag-aaral] namin, hindi sila informed talaga (Our area has limited internet access. That is why our pupils aren’t properly informed),” he said.

Fortunately, through the League of Corporate Foundation (LCF)’s initiative, LCFWinS: Lingap Eskwela sa Pandemya, corporate organizations such as building solutions provider Holcim Philippines are helping communities address the gaps around the access to information and hygiene products as a way to strengthen the water access, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) at the level of schools, health centers and barangays.

LCFWinS: Teachers of Sapang Kawayan Elementary School receive IECs and hygiene kits to be distributed to their pupils in line with the distance learning modality

WASH in Pandemic

Gilma Porley, Principal of Mabini Central School and DepEd representative of Mabini District in Batangas, shared that the project would be a great help in pushing WASH in Schools forward despite the distance learning modality. “Ang common problems or issues na nasasabi [ng mga magulang] sa amin—aside po sa kakulangan ng budget dahil sila nga po ay focused na sa kanilang food supplies—‘yon pong handwashing, hindi na nila magawa dahil wala nga pong mga sabon. (The common issues that we were told—aside from lack of budget on food supplies—is practicing proper handwashing, because of the lack of hygiene supplies),” she said.

Napakalaking tulong po nang nalaman namin na isa kami sa recipients, dahil maipapagpatuloy po nila ‘yong health habits sa kani-kanilang mga tahanan. Sa ganoong paraan, hindi lamang po sila ang matututo pati rin po ‘yong mga relatives, mga kapatid, at mga magulang. (This is a huge help when we learned that our school is one of the recipients of this project because the pupils will be able to continue the health habits in their own homes. This way, they are not the only ones who will learn, but also their relatives, siblings, and parents),” she added.

Mabini Central School is one of the four schools that benefitted from the LCFWinS program with Holcim Philippines’ donations. Communities that host Holcim Philippines’ cement facilities in Bacnotan, La Union, Norzagaray, Bulacan, Batangas, Lugait, Misamis Oriental, and Bunawan, Davao City were also helped by the program.

WASH in Communities

LCFWinS: Representatives from Holcim Philippines and Manila Water Foundation distribute IEC materials and conduct hygiene education session in Bacnotan, La Union

In La Union, several groups such as the families under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) expressed their interest in getting copies of the IECs, which would help spread the awareness about COVID-19 in their respective communities, according to Gillian Cortes, CSR Manager of Holcim Philippines in Bacnotan. She shared, “The mere fact that a lot of people asked for materials even if they weren’t the beneficiaries already indicates that they find it very valuable, even the Tanod-Bayan—the group wanted copies of the posters and then the 4Ps women also asked for copies.” With the materials translated in their native language, Cortes added “Thanks to [Manila Water Foundation’s] posters, in Ilocano, [it is] very much appreciated by the barangays.”

Cristy Andaya, Barangay Secretary of Quirino in Bacnotan, La Union said that the IECs would also help in the recall of the proper hygiene habits among their stakeholders. “Malaki ‘yung maitutulong nito [IEC materials] kasi kapag nakikita ng tao o nababasa, mas natatanim sa kaisipan nila kung ano ba yung tama at mali na gawain para mas lalo pang mapaigting ‘yung paglaban natin sa COVID-19 (This would be a huge help for us because, when people see or read the material, it is more likely that they remember the proper precautions, thus making us stronger in the fight against COVID-19).”

LCFWinS x Holcim Philippines

LCFWinS: The LCFWinS initiative sponsored by Holcim Philippines and implemented by Manila Water Foundation was able to provide 5,300 copies of info-education materials and reached more than 78,000 individuals in its host communities.

Holcim Bulacan CSR Manager Melchor Soylon stressed that the pandemic sustained the company’s motivation in supporting communities. “Dahil po sa pandemya ay talagang tutulong at saka susuporta din talaga kami sa aming host barangay para maiwasan yung COVID-19 (We are eager to help and support our host barangay to prevent the spread of COVID-19 amid the pandemic),” he said.

For Holcim Mabini Operations Manager Catherine Joy Guinto, they are glad to be part of the WASH in Schools initiative especially at this time. “The goal of the project, which we were fortunate enough to participate in, is that we were given the opportunity to give [schoolchildren] IEC posters and hygiene kits prior the start of their classes,” she said.

Overall, the initiative was able to provide 5,300 copies of info-education materials and reached more than 78,000 individuals in its host communities. Around 800 students from the four schools also received hygiene kits and WASH storybooks.

The League of Corporate Foundations (LCF) is a network of the largest operating and grant-making corporate foundations and corporations in the Philippines. Its initiative, LCFWinS, demonstrates the impact of the collaboration for shared goals between and among communities and the private sector to triumph over COVID-19.

[Article submitted by Sandy Sandoval, Manila Water Foundation, Inc.]