When Super Typhoon Haiyan struck the Phillippines last November, the results were catastrophic: The storm left 6,300 dead and four million people displaced. And while the typhoon is no longer headlining the evening news here, it's still an everyday reality in Guiuan, the area hit hardest by the typhoon, where rebuilding efforts remain slow. As a result, child labor is on the rise as increasing numbers of children leave school to help support their families. Those not in the workforce face overcrowded classrooms in makeshift buildings and a lack of basic supplies.
American Ballet Theatre soloist Stella Abrera, a first-generation Filipino American, is doing her part to help. She teamed up with disaster relief organization Operation USA to form Steps Forward for the Philippines, a charitable fund dedicated to providing educational supplies to the school children of Guiuan. Her goal is to raise $30,000 to ensure schools receive basic necessities such as desks, chairs, chalkboards, computers and A/V equipment.
Abrera heads to Manila this month to perform the title role of Giselle with Ballet Philippines alongside ABT principal James Whiteside. But her trip also serves a charitable purpose. “I knew my upcoming visit to the country needed to somehow contribute to the relief effort," she says in a statement. After the performance on September 19, she'll travel to Guiuan to survey Operation USA's educational initiatives, meet with school children and present them with school supplies. For more information, or to donate, click here.