Philippines children being helped to recover amid typhoon trauma

By staff writers
November 22, 2013

Child-friendly spaces are being set up in Northern Cebu to give children a place to play, learn, and recover from trauma after the horrific Philippines typhoon.

On the 69th annual Universal Children’s Day (20 November 2013), Christian aid agency World Vision announced that it had begun setting up its dedicated ‘safe spaces’ for children affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

Dr Yvonne Duque, a health expert for World Vision in the Philippines, explained: “Child Friendly Spaces are a safe place for children to express themselves and start coming to terms with what has happened – often by explaining their emotions through artwork. They start drawing their surroundings, where they live, and this starts helping them understand why this happened. The healing process will take years and it’s crucial to start right now.”

A Child-Friendly Space is staffed by trained counsellors, who are there to help children express their feelings and give them a safe place to simply be a child. Inside, children are given information on how to protect themselves and their friends from the dangers in their changed environment. Another nearby space provides the children with health check-ups.

The first ‘Child Friendly Space’ was established on Wednesday 20 November, by World Vision, in northern Cebu. Thousands of buildings have been destroyed so large tents will be used. Around 40 additional safe spaces will be set up in the coming weeks and months.

Longer-term, CFSs can include educational tools, lessons, and even become a small version of a school.

Other Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) member agencies are also working to protect the safety and education of children in the Philippines.

Save The Children is to establish three Child Friendly Spaces in Leyte, to address an “urgent need for significant intervention to help bereaved children”.

Oenone Chadburn, Tearfund's Head of Humanitarian Support, said: “Right now, it's crucially important that we help children to feel safe and loved so they can start to grieve. Children need routine, safe places to play and learn, and lots of love. We need to make sure they get proper medical care and have people around them who will help them face the future.”

Tanya Barron, chief executive of Plan UK, added: “In times of disaster, girls have particular needs for protection, healthcare and education which are often not met, or even recognised.”

The project is being collaborated on by the members of the UK Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).

* More information on ‘Child Friendly Spaces’, visit http://www.worldvision.org/news-stories-videos/child-friendly-spaces-report

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