NEW YORK, NY – August 14, 2014 – Steps Forward for the Philippines, in alliance with the disaster relief organization Operation USA, is raising funds to supply a school in the coastal municipality of Guiuan, where Super Typhoon Haiyan first made landfall on November 8, 2013.

Super Typhoon Haiyan impacted around 16 million people—including 5.9 million children—and left 6,300 dead and four million displaced. Rebuilding efforts are progressing slowly amid the ruins. Meanwhile, child labor rates are rising in the typhoon-hit areas. According to the Associated Press, a joint assessment conducted in April 2014 by the International Labor Organization, the United Nations, the Philippine authorities, and others, found that "54 per cent of 112 surveyed villages reported that children were involved in harsh and dangerous labor, with 39 per cent of them saying the number of such children increased after the typhoon struck... The joint assessment said 82 per cent of villages reported that the children had volunteered to do harsh work to support themselves or their families.“

Increasing access to education for the children affected by the typhoon is a top priority in combating the rising child labor rates. The current conditions for education are sometimes verging on hazardous. Many classes are held in overcrowded, makeshift schoolhouses, and supplies are scarce. Operation USA is on the ground helping with the rebuilding efforts in Guiuan, which include building quality infrastructure for the area’s children.

In response to the urgent need for educational access in Guiuan, Stella Abrera, Filipino-American ballerina with American Ballet Theatre, created the charitable fund Steps Forward for the Philippines, in partnership with Operation USA. Steps Forward for the Philippines is dedicated to serving the educational and creative needs of children in the Philippines. The organization’s goal is to raise $30,000, which will directly provide educational tools and equipment to motivate and help the school children of Guiuan succeed.

This September, Ms. Abrera returns to the Philippines, the country of her heritage. She will visit Guiuan, survey Operation USA’s educational initiatives in the area, meet the children of the region, and present them with much-needed school supplies.

To highlight her homecoming, she will dance in the Philippines for the first time, as a guest artist with Ballet Philippines in Manila, performing the title role of Giselle at the Cultural Center of the Philippines alongside ABT Principal Dancer James Whiteside

Donations are being accepted by visiting the website:
All donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by the law through Operation USA.

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Steps Forward for the Philippines (SFP) is a charitable organization created by Stella Abrera, Filipino-American Soloist with American Ballet Theatre. SFP is dedicated to providing for the education and creative needs of children in the Philippines. Our first mission,  in partnership with Operation USA, is to provide students at Guiuan, Philippines with educational tools and equipment to motivate and help them succeed. 

Founded in 1979, Operation USA helps communities alleviate the effects of disasters, disease, and endemic poverty by providing privately-funded relief, reconstruction, and development aid throughout the world. The Los Angeles based non-government organization offers material and financial assistance to community-based organizations that promote sustainable development, leadership and capacity building, income generating activities, education, health services, and advocacy on behalf of vulnerable people. Learn more at

Richard Walden, President and CEO of Operation USA, is available as an expert source on disaster recovery.

Operation USA is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization, and all contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by U.S. law through Operation California, Inc.  Operation USA is a d.b.a. of Operation California. Federal Tax I.D. #95-3504080