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US ambassador inaugurates new Leyte facilities

In Photo: The US Ambassador Sung Kim and Palo Mayor Remedios Petilla pose with students from Anahaway Elementary School and National High School during the formal inauguration of nine new classrooms in the town.

UNITED States (US) Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim made his first trip to Leyte to inaugurate classrooms and a livelihood-training center constructed by the US Embassy in the Philippines’s United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Kim and Tacloban City Mayor Cristina Gonzales offer a wreath at the Yolanda memorial in memory of the lives lost during Supertyphoon Yolanda.

Palo Municipal Mayor Remedios Petilla joined Kim during the formal inauguration of nine new classrooms for Anahaway Elementary and Anahaway National High Schools in the municipality of Palo. The classrooms are designed to withstand high-velocity winds of up to 360 kilometers per hour and an 8.5-magnitude earthquake on the Richter scale.

“These classrooms are among the many examples of the US’s solidarity and friendship with the Philippines. We are your strong ally and dedicated partner,” Kim said.

The ambassador then made his way to Tacloban City to turn over the Tacloban City Training Center to the local government, represented by Mayor Cristina Romualdez.

The center, which is expected to serve over 6,000 farmers, fisherfolk and entrepreneurs operating in the city and nearby areas, is part of the US government’s broader initiative to help revive Leyte’s economy post-Yolanda (international code name Haiyan).

“Our partnership has come a long way after three years. But what makes us truly proud is your courage and determination to rise above the adversity. Your stories are an inspiration to all of us,” the ambassador said.

The US government has spent more than P7 billion to bolster post-Yolanda recovery. To date, the USAID’s rebuild project, implemented by Louis Berger Group Inc., has built 310 classrooms and 30 livelihood-support facilities to rehabilitate communities in typhoon-affected areas.

The USAID has also constructed 12 health facilities and provided sustainable livelihoods to over 1,000 sari-sari storeowners, 1,400 local entrepreneurs and 10,000 farmers and fisherfolk. Still bullish, Kim voiced optimism about sustained relationship between the Philippines and the US as he spoke to hundreds of officials and residents, vowing to continue the support of his government to various development programs in the country.

“US friendship with the Philippines will always be there. The future belongs to you, the students,” he told the crowd, who waited for hours despite the rain showers.

The USAID also inaugurated rural health units, hospital-improvement projects and schools in Dagami and Carigara towns in Leyte.

Image credits: PNA photo courtesy of US Embassy Information Office

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