Philippines (OM) — It’s been months since Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines, but for some child survivors, recovery is starting now. Through Operation Safe, emotional scars are being healed one-by-one.
Four workers from Operation Mobilization (OM) Philippines received training in trauma counselling for individuals–especially children–in Calbayog, Samar, in March.
“This was a timely training, since Philippines recently experienced a series of disasters that have badly affected many areas and traumatized people, especially children, at different levels,” said Xenia Bodero, OM Philippines’ social worker.
Convinced of the benefits of this training, OM Philippines conducted Operation Safe camps in three areas of Northern Cebu and Tacloban that were badly affected by Typhoon Haiyan, as well as in different areas of Cebu City and Bohol that were hit by the earthquake.
Street children from Lorega Cemetery in Cebu City also underwent the program weeks after their community was destroyed by a fire in March that reportedly left 7,000 people homeless.
“These camps are basically aimed to cater for children ages seven years old and up,” said Bodero. “They facilitate psycho-emotional restoration through stress-debriefing [by means of] dance and songs, craft making, creative snacks, fun-filled Bible stories, adventure storytelling and team time. [These children] where able to ventilate their experiences and emotions caused during the disaster.”
One of the children in Northern Cebu who attended the Operation Safe camp was very quiet during the first few days of camp. He had seen his home fly away during Typhoon Haiyan.
“During the week, he slowly began to interact with other children and enjoyed the activities, especially song and dance,” noted Bodero. “By the end of the camp, he had become lively and active.”
Scholars who benefit from OM Philippines’ Scholarship Program also helped run various Operation Safe camps in Cebu City and Bohol. “Not only were they able to further develop their leadership skills, but they also had the opportunity to share God’s love with trauma survivors,” Bodero added.
One of the scholars said that Operation Safe had helped her change her attitude “because I met people who are very kind to me…. Even though they experienced great loss and trials during Typhoon Yolanda [Haiyan], they still believed in God. Their smiles, even in pain, were very encouraging.”
Another scholar was amazed to see how “the tragedy brought people closer to God, especially in those places where we [hosted] Operation Safe. We were greatly blessed.”
Pray for more healing as Operation Safe camps continue through the summer. Learn more about OM’s work in the Philippines here.