Donations help typhoon survivor Keith rebuild school

Keith Wakefield, pictured with students who recently sat exams at his English Language Academy in Tacloban. Keith Wakefield, pictured with students who recently sat exams at his English Language Academy in Tacloban.

Sunday, June 8, 2014
3:00 PM

A former Exmouth businessman who survived last year’s devastating typhoon in the Philippines is slowly getting back on his feet – and has again thanked his former neighbours back home for their generosity.

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Keith Wakefield, who lives in Palo on the island of Leyte, only survived the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan in November by barricading himself and his family inside a shipping container, while his home and his English Language Academy were smashed by the deadly winds that killed thousands.

Six months on, Keith and his family are still living in the makeshift shelter they built after the storm from the container and the remains of their house.

However the school, in nearby Tacloban, is back up and running.

Keith, who appealed for donations from Exmouth in the aftermath of the storm, said: “We are very grateful for all the support the Journal and the kind folks of Exmouth have given us.

“It helped us to survive the immediate aftermath of the disaster and allowed us to help others as well.

“We now have electricity and water restored in both the house and school.”

Keith had hoped to move his school to a new building left undamaged by the typhoon, but was unable to raise the money. However, repairs have been made to its existing site.

Keith said: “The school is up and running, although half the office is still sealed off awaiting repair.

“The building the school is housed in is still only half-fixed at the front, but we are managing.

“We are making the best of what we have. The British Council here have donated four computers and books to help us back on our feet and we have a flow of students now. Most of our students are nurses wishing to work abroad. One of the main hospitals here was badly damaged so had to be closed down.”

Keith says a recent International English Language Testing System exam at the school was entered by 49 students, with 63 per cent passing.

In his neighbourhood generally, Keith says areas are being rebuilt, however there is a long way still to go, with thousands still living in tents.

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