The last 2 of the 18 remote barangay school-recipients of this year’s School in a Bag and ShelterKits welcomed the members of RCC and Smart Communications in barangays Gaas and Liki in Balamban town. RCC was led by Pres. Stephen Chian, Project Chair David Barnes, Treas. Walter Cang, Rtn, Hector Almario and Rtn. Bobong Castillo. The barangay hall of Gaas was chosen as the drop off point for supplies intended for Malingin Elementary School due to its remote location. This school sits in a valley at least 3 hours on foot and that’s downhill all the way. It would be hard to imagine the effort and time required to make that trek when you’re laden with a 70kg. box of school supplies, tablets, printer, projector, projector screen, and other essentials. It was foggy, cold and at times it rained hard but the school Principal, Miguelito Inso, was brimming with excitement at the prospect of introducing the new technology to his more than 150 students. Asked to describe the environment around the school, he said students in his school have never used a cell phone as there is no service available in the valley. A river ran behind the school so there was always the danger of flooding. Oh, and just last month, a pre-school student succumbed to a bite from a poisonous snake! It’s hard to comprehend that while we take many things for granted, those who live in the fringe of development face struggles this real. And here we are complaining about the traffic and how long our food got delivered. One can never know sunshine unless he has been through rain. Our last and final stop was in a mountain community where Liki Integrated School was established. From the highway we turned into an unpaved road, in some sections just wide enough for one vehicle to pass. About half an hour into our drive, we crested a hill and finally saw the school. The land where it stood was donated by the grandmother of one of the teachers and it was heartwarming to know how this single act of generosity has benefited thousands to gain education over the years. The school took pains to decorate their outdoor stage commemorating our visit. What struck us most was how many students this school had! Our minds were unable to correlate the remoteness of the location and the absence of a large community to the number of uniformed students that were present. Yet there they were. Lined up in neat rows to give us a warm welcome. Suffice to say, students from this school may have trekked far and wide from the surrounding hills and mountains to get there. I used to think old timers who said they had to climb mountains and ford rivers to attend school were exaggerating. I am humbled. Pres. Stephen Chian shared an anecdote about his life as a student and elicited laughter from the crowd. He encouraged them to strive hard because knowledge gained can never be taken away. After a short message from school officials, we were feted to a simple but well prepared lunch. As I enjoyed my meal, I pondered on the saying, “Those who have less will often try to give the most.”. Perhaps we as Rotarians can learn from these simple folks. And so it come to pass that we conclude this year’s School in a Bag and ShelterKit distribution project. This project wouldn’t have been possible without the Global Grant from The Rotary Foundation, our partner club, the Rotary Club of Daegu-Taebaek, ShelterBox Philippines who donated the educational supplies and most specially to Smart Communications for developing School in a Bag and giving us the opportunity to tap and organize the resources of different organizations and funnel these into a joint effort. And so on behalf of the students and teachers of the 18 schools touched by School in a Bag, RCC wishes to say a BIG Thank You to all.