Typhoon Odette, Philippines – Relief fund for an NGO school

Update posted by Nicolas Gontard On Jan 16, 2022

Hi everyone,

I has now been exactly one month since typhoon Odette hit the Philippines and our community in Siargao. A lot has happened since our last report, and it is time to update you all.

First of all, we are blessed to have you. We have received donations from the 4 corners of the world, relief goods from various Asian NGOs, individuals and governments, and this has greatly helped us in envisioning the future of our school and our community.

Relief goods have included food, water, solar lights, blankets, water filters, mosquito nets, towels, tents and medicine.

The magnitude of the damage made us realise that we had to go beyond our mission (the school). Since the community where all our students come from has been badly affected, it became clear that we had to concentrate our initial efforts in helping the community to stand on its feet again. The government and NGOs have done their part, taking care of the absolute emergency relief, and we have made sure that we helped them as much as possible on the rest.


Because we are on the island, it took some time to get proper drinking water for everyone. Thanks to donations, we were able to install water filters from Waves for Water (www.wavesforwater.org) for our community (500 people). Each filter can filter up to one million gallons of water.

In the not too distant future (target max. 3 months), we are planning to purchase a high-capacity water filtration system that can be coupled with our current water pump system.


Villagers have been receiving rice & canned food. However, vegetables & sources of proteins & vitamins have been missing, since all farms were wiped out and most fishing boats became unusable.

We sent a team on the mainland (Mindanao), who went as far as Davao to get some vegetables and dry fish that were trucked and shipped back to the island. We will be feeding the villagers who are lacking a balanced diet until the food supply situation gets better.

We also started germinating seeds in seedling trays to plant vegetables in our garden. Hopefully, the first veggies will come up in 40 days. In the meantime, we will continue to purchase vegetables on the mainland.

Health & medication

Very sadly Michael, a 5-year old child from the village, whose sister is one of our students, passed away last Sunday from severe pneumonia & severe dehydration. 3 of this family’s children had the same symptoms, but fortunately the other 2 survived.

By the time the family raised the alert on their kids’ condition, Michael’s condition was already extremely serious, and despite him being transported by ambulance boat to Surigao’s main hospital, he could not be saved.

Michael was buried this week in Surigao City. May this poor innocent boy rest in peace. Espoir has covered the cost of the funeral & parents' expenses, since they have very limited funds.

We immediately requested emergency medical assistance, and had the visit of a local doctor as well as army doctors who came to check the health condition of all kids. No major health hazard was detected.


Since electricity will not be restored for another few months, we have given all villagers solar lights. We have also used our water pump solar system temporality as a charging station.

We are also looking at various providers of solar panel systems for the whole school, rather than buying a generator. This is still under investigation.

School reconstruction

Our builder has given us priority to rebuild our school buildings. The work will start next week, and is expected to last up to 3 months, as some construction materials need to come from Cebu or Davao.

Despite a higher construction cost, we have decided to re-build all of our new classrooms' roofs in reinforced concrete. The improved structures will be able to resist the strongest typhoons and allow villagers to find a safe refuge.

Most villagers have lost any income stream since the typhoon. We have committed to hire as many villagers as possible for the re-construction of our school buildings.

Village roofs

The construction of roofs for all villagers has slowly started. A chainsaw was found, and coconut trees were donated, allowing our villagers to start re-building the structures of their roofs.

Espoir has used some of its donation money to finance part of the roofs’ construction, and if donations exceed our needs, we will use all excess money to help rebuild the villager’s homes.

The houses’ structures are not strong enough to hold a concrete roof, and alternative roof structures are currently being studied by our structural engineer.


We have finally been able to assess the extent of the damage and put a budget on it. Apart from damaged buildings, we have lost most of our furniture, equipment, textbooks, school supplies, uniforms,….

The decision to re-build the roofs in reinforced concrete (70 cbm of concrete are required) has a big impact on our budget, but we believe this is the right & safe thing to do.

Our total budget now stands at USD 200,000. Since I am matching all donations, we need USD 100,000. Up to date, between all our donation initiatives from the Philippines, Hong Kong, France & more recently Japan, we have raised about USD 70,000. We need another USD 30,000, and hope donations will keep on coming until we reach our objective.

Sponsoring a child

Since the typhoon hit, we have had many requests from donors to sponsor a child. They understand the urgent need to support our community and our students in the long-term, and not just temporarily with a one-off payment.

Sponsoring a child costs USD 50/month and helps pay for all the school expenses (teachers’ salaries, food for students’ lunches, school uniforms, textbooks, school supplies).

If you are interested to know more, please contact us at: [email protected]

Thanks again for your amazing support so far ❤️

Nicolas Gontard

Founder of Espoir School of Life, Inc.

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Update posted by Nicolas Gontard On Jan 01, 2022

Hi everyone,

It’s now been 16 days since Typhoon Rai (Odette) has hit the Philippines, and we would like to update you on all the progress we have made and the challenges we are facing. In many areas, this typhoon was more devastating than typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013. Some of the latest photos & videos we received show the devastation in Siargao close to our school.

With the help of the municipality of Del Carmen, we have managed to secure enough rice & canned food to feed our community. The maritime lines with the mainland (Surigao port) have been restored, and we are also starting to receive relief goods from various organisations, which is great news. Yesterday, we received a large delivery of rice, water, blankets, slippers and other necessities from a local NGO.

Most villagers have been eating rice, noodles & canned food in limited quantities in the past 16 days. This could lead to malnutrition or a poor balance diet. We are planning to re-start planting vegetable seeds as early as next week, as all farms have been destroyed by the typhoon. We are now looking for farming tools on the mainland.

The water supply remains a problems, as drinking water is available in small quantities. Some cases of diarrhoea have been reported, so we are extremely vigilant in informing the community about the importance to drink bottled water (if available) or boil the water carefully.

  • Our short term solution is to use water filters: We have managed to secure 3 water filters so far (1 can serve 10 households), but we need 10 to cover our community. Hopefully we can find the missing ones shortly from the mainland.
  • The long-term solution is to have a large-scale filtration system that can be connected to our water well, so that the water becomes drinking water for the village. This will cost an estimated PHP 250,000-300,000, as some of our well pipes have been damaged as well.

The electricity will only be restored in the next 4-6 months, so we are looking at acquiring a generator to provide electricity to the school and community. In the meantime, since our water well is damaged, we have converted the solar panel of our water system into a charging station for the community.

Apart from water, the biggest challenge for villagers is the repair of their roofs. We still haven’t been able to find a chainsaw to cut the coconut trees to make roof structures and have to go all the way to Davao to get one. Since it is still the rainy season, villagers are still facing very difficult conditions. We hope to find the appropriate construction equipment to help them start this process next week.

As far as our school buildings are concerned, and after studying the very few buildings which resisted the typhoon’s destruction, we are planning at having all the roofs of our new 5-classroom building & all future buildings with a concrete slab ceiling. This will allow us to become a safe and efficient evacuation centre for the community. As you can imagine, all these improvements will cost more than the original structures.

We celebrated Christmas with our students and gave them books. We have also decided that school will restart on 9 Jan 2022, as kids need to get back to a life that is as normal as possible.

Espoir is also providing psychological first aid (trauma management) to kids, who have been shocked by the typhoon devastating effects. Espoir has helped the local community as much as possible, and considered their well-being was extremely urgent. We are also helping neighbouring communities who have been even more affected by the typhoon (mostly light structure wooden houses).

I would like to thank all of you who have supported us with financial and moral support: private donors, NGOs, Foundations,…..

Many thanks to the local government of Del Carmen & their staff for their efficient support, to the police, army and coast guards with the delivery of relief goods.

Many thanks to all our teachers and staff, who have been on the frontline helping our community and launching relief initiatives while their own houses had been destroyed.

And finally, many thanks to our School Head Jerlyn for her incredible work and support in dealing with this crisis. Jerlyn’s previous experience in a refugee camp has been incredibly helpful.

Our above initiatives and commitment to a better & safer tomorrow will cost us much more than our original estimate, so feel free to continue your amazing donation effort.

I will personally match every donation, dollar to dollar up to USD 100,000. Don’t be shy;-)
We will make Espoir and our community a better place.

More updates are regularly posted on our Instagram and Facebook pages:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/espoirschooloflife/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/espoirschooloflife

All of us at Espoir take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year with the hope that 2022 will see bluer skies.

Nicolas Gontard
Founder of Espoir School of Life

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Update posted by Nicolas Gontard On Dec 24, 2021

Hi everyone,

It has been one week after Typhoon Rai (Odette) swept across the Philippines, we want to update you all on the situation.

First of all, a huge thank you from all of us at Espoir for your support & generosity. As of today, we have already raised USD 34,000 since we launched this campaign 4 days ago. This is an incredible start, and we are confident we will soon reach our goal. We have already started sending money to our team on the ground to purchase water, food, medical supplies, and material to fix the roofs & buildings.

It’s been an emotional rollercoaster as the school was cut from the rest of the world, and no communication was possible until Sunday night. The magnitude of the damage has become more clear, over 375 people have been reported dead, with many more still missing. The island of Siargao has been severely damaged, with all evacuation areas and 95% of Siargao damaged, according to Del Carmen Vice Mayor JR Coro.

The funeral of the courageous grand-father of one of our students who lost his life rescuing some of our students took place on Wednesday, and we will honour his memory at Espoir for his courage and selfless acts.

Our priorities at the school have been the following:

1. Feed everyone in the community at least once a day with our current inventory of water, rice & vegetables;
2. Install milk stations for mothers with young babies;
3. Make sure all injured people are taken care of by medical staff. We had one doctor come on site to give them basic medication;
4. Clean the school site from debris;
5. Buy the necessary equipment to rebuild the roofs first, as they all blew away (except one miraculous roof which is only party damaged);
6. Once roofs are re-built, buy the missing furniture & equipment, and repair all damaged fixtures (windows, doors,…).
Our builder has already come to the school to assess the damage, and we are currently discussing with him how to make the roof structure stronger.

From a logistics point of view, there are very few planes and choppers coming to the island with food, water & equipment, and they are very expensive to rent. The sea routes between Surigao (on Mindanao) and Siargao are not yet operational, apart from small boats with limited cargo capacity. We have sent some of our staff to Surigao to bring back about 120kg of rice and water. The logistics will become much easier once larger boats operate again, which we hope will start in 7-10 days. We are also waiting for filtration water, which is supposed to arrive just after Christmas.

Mobile phone networks are slowly starting to work again. Electrical companies mentioned it would probably take up to 6 months to restore all electrical lines. We are checking the cost of getting a generator to re-start the school as soon as possible. We are also looking at the cost of setting up a water purifying station.

We have attached some photos of the ongoing work to clean the school site from debris and a couple of photos of the city Del Carmen, which was badly damaged.

The road ahead will be long, but the whole team is in high spirit to revive the community and ensure education can start again as soon as possible.

We will update you again after the holidays and wish you all Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!
Thank you all for your amazing support, we are very touched ❤️

Nicolas Gontard
Founder of Espoir School of Life

Video: https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-asia-59739685

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Backed with $500.00 On Jan 26, 2022


Great Work Nicolas. Wish you much success with your raise. Am also involved with friends without a border FWAB that could be of interest to you as well.. Thy have treated millions of children in Cambodia and Laos. They also need help.


Backed with $500.00 On Jan 20, 2022


Bravo pour ce que vous faites et Bon courage pour la reconstruction! Gael de Dorlodot


Backed with $100.00 On Jan 20, 2022


Cheminat Family

Backed with $300.00 On Jan 19, 2022


Keep making a positive difference in the world!

Jeremy Beuque

Backed with $100.00 On Jan 18, 2022



Backed with $400.00 On Jan 17, 2022


Sahoko Sakai

Backed with $300.00 On Jan 13, 2022


Thank you for all efforts and actions.


Backed with $300.00 On Jan 13, 2022



Backed On Jan 11, 2022 Amount Hidden


What a great cause and effort to rebuild the community. All the very best and keep us updated on the progress!

Amanda, Z & Kaia

Backed with $1000.00 On Jan 10, 2022

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