Japanese studes help build classrooms in Angeles City


ANGELES CITY — Some 52 students from at least nine universities in Japan are enjoying as construction aides of Filipino workers in building four classrooms at the Pineda-Gutierrez Elementary School in Barangay Tabun here.
The Japanese students, who are mostly in their first year of college, are undergoing an immersion program in the Philippines as part of their school requirement.
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The Rural Asia Solidarity Association (Rasa), a non-profit organization based in Nagoya City, has tapped the students in connection with the Overseas Development Assistance of the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Miku Hanaka from Sugiyama University and Saki Kataoka from Nanzan University in Nagoya City said they are enjoying their stay in the village because their foster families are very kind and hospitable.
Fr. John Seland, a Catholic priest belonging to the Societas Verbi Divini (SVD) or Divine Word Missionaries who is the president of the Mother Laura Gertrude Seland Foundation Incorporated, said the students are accompanied by five Japanese engineers who are supervising the construction of the classrooms, which are expected to be completed on December this year.
The priest said Rasa and the foundation are giving financial assistance to host families for the students’ food and other basic needs. Each student donated 100,000 yen for their 17-day (August 18 – September 3) immersion program.
“It’s a very nice program. We want students to have a nice experience together with their foster families,” Seland said.
The Rasa, in coordination with the foundation, has already built 25 classrooms at Calapan and Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro, Cavite, and other parts of the country since 1999, according to Seland.
In Japan, Rasa get donations from different churches and Japanese government and the funds are sent to the foundation in order to build schools and provide scholarships to Filipino students, Seland added.
At present, the foundation has 50 scholars in college, high school, and elementary levels.
Aside from these, the Mother Laura Gertrude Seland Foundation and Rasa also have ongoing feeding programs in Cebu and Cabuyao, Laguna and livelihood (animal dispersal) for poor families in selected areas in the country.
“About 25 children in Cebu and 50 children in Cabuyao eat free full meals,” Seland said.
Japanese students see the program in the internet and those who visited Philippines comeback and they tell their friends about their experience, Seland said.
He lauded Christine Nacario, executive director of the Mother Laura Gertrude Seland Foundation Inc., for coordinating and implementing the construction of the classrooms in Barangay Tabun with the Rasa.
The classroom, which will also be furnished with tables and chairs, will be inaugurated and turned over to the school in January next year.
“We will be coming back next year for the blessing and inauguration of the school building,” Seland said.
He also thanked Engr. Wataru Ueno and Norio Fujii, executive director of Rasa, for their assistance in providing funds for the projects in the Philippines.
Ueno asked potential donors to send their donation to the RCBC Santa Rosa Branch under the account name Saburo Yamada with account number 3-318-33875-1.
Seland also expressed gratitude to Yoshimi Ando, director of Aichi Rescue who helps Rasa very much to get Japanese government assistance and support.
“The Mother Laura Gertrude Seland Foundation is very active helping people who struggle to meet the basic necessities of life. We are only a small group, but we feel that what we are doing is a valuable way to assist people in their daily needs. It is for this reason that we want to expand our activities,” Seland said.
“We would like to make it possible for you to learn more about what we are doing and, if possible, to contact us. The more people are involved, the better. And so, we welcome you. Please learn more about us, and help us to help others so that we can contribute to build a world of justice, peace, and love,” he added.
Vilma Liao, principal of Pineda Gutierrez Elementary School, thanked Rasa, Mother Laura Gertrude Seland Foundation and the Japanese engineers and students for construction of the classrooms.
She said the school building will add up to the existing classrooms where more than 700 pupils are having classes.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on August 28, 2012.

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