In the country’s remote highland villages, students are not the only ones who go to school by walking long distances, climbing mountains, clinging on cliffs and crossing streams. So-called volunteer teachers also risk their lives in the same way to educate children in out-of-the-way communities.
Ediliza Decina and Ruschel Corañes – both assigned to the Kagbana Elementary School in Burauen town – walk more than two hours across mountains and rivers starting from San Vicente village every Sunday afternoon to reach Kagbana, the remotest of the 77 villages of the biggest town in Leyte.
Carrying backpacks filled with food supply, clothes, teaching materials and personal items, they cross six streams and a chest-deep river, pass through some slippery and sharp rocks and walk in narrow cliff pathways. When crossing the Marabong River, they have to raise their backpacks above water.
Decina and Corañes get two benefits from doing the energy-draining and dangerous profession. They develop stamina and ensure that 69 children in Grades 3 to 6 can fulfill their dreams of a better future.
For those who want to emulate the two teachers, there’s a catch. The routine trek mentioned above is during summer months. The real challenge is doing it in the rainy season when the river water is raging and the wet terrain is slippery.