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A school for Manila's slums

Built out of recycled 40-foot shipping containers, Jane Walker's school will house more than 1,000 children.

Built out of stacked and recycled 40-foot shipping containers, the school will house more than 1,000 children when it opens in June.

“It would have been a lot cheaper to build if we hadn’t had to go so deep through the mountain of garbage to lay the foundation.” Walker said.

The school is air-conditioned, with wireless internet throughout. It has a library, computer room and art room. There is even a roof deck that will be used as a recreation area. To build the school Walker enlisted the pro bono aid of engineers and architects. The Philippine government gave her the land. The 78 shipping containers were all donated.

“The thing that makes it ground breaking is that it is stacked four stories high," Walker explains of the new structure.

Walker is also trying to support the families of her students. She has set up a recycling center where many of the children’s parents work, making bags and jewelry out of garbage that are sold at posh stores in London.

The workers are paid more than they could ever earn from picking through the garbage heap, Walker says, and in proper working conditions that meet international standards.

Walker aims to have the proceeds from the recycling center pay for about half of the Philippine Community Fund’s charity work within five years. The rest of the funding comes from private donations, grants, individuals who sponsor children and fund-raising events.

Walker has many other plans to help the poor in Manila, including sanitation and more livelihood projects.

But for now she will focus on the opening of her container school and, as she puts it, “giving back the kids their childhood.”