Philippines: is this the world’s wettest school run?

Sailors’ Society is making a huge difference to the daily life of schoolchildren in the Philippines…

Packing the school bag, battling the traffic, making sure everyone has the right uniform – the school run can be pretty exhausting at the best of times.

But spare a thought for Ramie and his school friends, who until now have had to wade, and sometimes even swim, two kilometres just to get to class.

Ramie is 16 and has disabilities, including breathing difficulties. He and his siblings, like dozens of other children in five tiny islets in the Philippines, are separated from Sulangan Integrated School by a stretch of sea.

The children risked being washed out to sea just to get to class, and their books would sometimes get wet or pulled away by the water. Ramie’s brother, Marvy, is only six, so their dad Ramone had to carry him on his back to keep him safe.

At high tide, they often couldn’t get to school at all – or they would be trapped for hours after class until Ramone could borrow his neighbour’s boat to collect them.

Now, they are celebrating, because Sailors’ Society, a charity which helps seafarers and their families around the world, has funded two boats to take them to school.

The motorised boats, which carry up to 30 children each, will make a massive difference to their education. Ramie’s parents didn’t get to finish school, but Ramie is determined he can graduate and build a better future for himself and his family.

“The school boat project brings us, and other families like us, so much joy because at last we won’t be late and won’t miss going to school ever again,” he says.

“This will serve as a stepping stone for me to become a seafarer someday.”

Sandra Welch, from Sailors’ Society, says: “The worst thing most of us face on the school run is a bit of traffic, so it’s hard to believe that there are children who have to swim through the sea just to get an education.

“Thanks to these boats, the children of Sulangan Integrated School no longer face an exhausting, dangerous journey every morning and arrive at school safe, dry and ready to gain the schooling they need.”

Sailors’ Society aims to transform the lives of seafarers and their families at home, in port and at sea through the delivery of chaplaincy, education and the relief of poverty and distress.

To find out more about how you or your church can support Sailors’ Society, please visit, e-mail or call 02380 515950.

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