Principal Nagz Sapasan and his joyful students at Cmdr Bara Elementary School

Saving Commander Bara Elementary School Brings New Life to a War Torn Community in Muslim Mindanao

On September 4, 2017, in a joyful ceremony with teachers, students and parents in attendance, Cmdr. Bara Jalaidi Elementary School in the area of armed conflict and severe poverty in Indanan Sulu, Philippines celebrated the inauguration of its newly renovated building. This facility that previously lacked a roof, windows, covered floors, chairs and tables offered harsh learning conditions for boys and girls eager to learn basic learning skills. With the persistence of new school leader, Nagz Sasapan, financial assistance from Asia America Initiative and donors, local craftsmen and village volunteers, Cmdr. Bara Jalaidi ES finally has become a comfortable school for its children.

For years, Cmdr Bara school lacked a roof
For years, Cmdr Bara school lacked a roof.

For more than twenty years under a blazing tropical sun or heavy monsoon rains, destructed school shack, children had to sit on a dirt or muddy floor and their parents were volunteering as teachers. The school, which was built during ongoing civil war encountered severe damages during the never-ending military confrontations, local violence and natural disasters. School head, Nagz Sasapan, remembered how challenging conditions were from the start. “No school building, no teachers and no books,” he says.

For years, Cmdr Bara school lacked a roof
For years, Cmdr Bara school lacked a roof.

After Asia America Initiative intervened due to Principal Sasapan’s numerous appeals, two months of construction led to school children starting to experience humane and colorful classrooms. “This achievement is a symbol of what Sulu can be if everyone works together for the benefit of the next generations,” said AAI Director, Albert Santoli, “children will benefit from the legacy and labor of love by their parents, teachers and local officials.”

September 2017, celebrating a school reborn
September 2017, celebrating a school reborn.

The teachers and the parents devoted their time and effort to make sure their children attended school every day, even under deplorable conditions. That, in turn, inspired people from around the world to donate their hard-earned money and compassion to Asia America Initiative’s appeal. “If there will be peace and progress,” Santoli says, “the actions we take like here at Commander Bara Jalaidi Elementary School is the foundation of teamwork and trust needed for success.”

A letter from AAI Director Santoli at the school’s reopening
A letter from AAI Director Santoli at the school’s reopening.

(Photo on top: Principal Nagz Sapasan and his joyful students at Cmdr. Bara Elementary School.)