IMAGINE having to swim to school.
That's what some destitute children in a Philippines have had to do to get to school.
The children who live in a mangrove village have been swimming to school while straining to hold their books above the water.
But they no longer have to anymore - thanks to generous Facebook users.
The Associated Press (AP) reported that blogger Jay Jaboneta, who learned how children from Layag-layag village in southern Philippines battled water to reach school, raised money through Facebook to provide them with boats.
Jaboneta, a government employee, raised enough money for one motorboat, which was turned over to community leaders in March.
"Some of these children came from families which were too poor to buy even small boats so they have to swim their way to school," Jaboneta told AP. "It's an inspiring story. They saw the school as the only way out of poverty."
On Monday, when the country's 26 million students returned to school after a two-month break, the bright-yellow motorboat, called "New Hope", carried the children to their elementary school.
It was a rare occasion when students from the village did not have to swim about 1.6km of mostly chest-deep water were.
Teacher Racquel Bangayan said the children arrived in dripping wet clothes when they could not hitch a ride on fishing boats before. She added that many often came late but some excelled in school.
Charity worker Anton Lim said that villagers will be allowed to use the boat for fishing and seaweed farming - but have to contribute a piece of their profit for gasoline and promise to ferry the children to and from school.
Two more boats are being built.
The charity group overseeing the donations also provided the children with school bags, slippers and blankets.
"The children were jumping with joy holding their new bags and slippers," Lim said. "They did not appear as excited with the new boat. They've been so used being in the water."
The new school year has put the spotlight on the ills of its educational system - congested classrooms, dilapidated buildings and a huge number of dropouts due to poverty, reported AP.
(Source: AP, Daily Chilli)