This post is long overdue.
Last December 26, 2011 the ChildHeal Facilitators of the Kids for Peace Foundation, Inc. made their way to Cagayan De Oro City to conduct an assessment. As we all know, Cagayan De Oro was badly hit by Tropical Storm Washi (Sendong) just a few days before Christmas. Some of the funds used to finance the assessment was taken from the money received by KIDS since it was one of the beneficiaries of K! Run (Knowledge Run) organized by the University of the Philippines Library and Information Science Students Association.
On the way, we saw houses covered with mud, cars that were on top of each other, and people on the streets begging for money. This is not something that you want to see the day after Christmas but then again, since when does disaster come at a perfect time? Thousands of people lost their lives and thousands were still missing. The disaster showed no mercy: people from different walks of life experienced the same thing. Water rose faster than the blink of an eye. Houses that used to stand strong despite everything crumbled to the merciless punches of the logs that, according to the survivors, came all the way from the mountains. Lives lost. A lot of repairing had to be done.
Upon seeing the aftermath of Washi, we decided to do an assessment first since it is what a responsible Psychosocial Facilitator does. It is important to know first what the physical and Psychosocial needs of the survivors are. We went to Kauswagan Elementary School and Tibasak to do art sessions with the children.
In the afternoon, we went to Tibasak to conduct another art session with the children. We wanted to get a feel of what the flow of the Psychosocial sessions should be given the loss and stress that the child survivors went through.
Despite the stress that the children had to go through, it was fascinating to see that most of their illustrations contained the sun, clouds, flowers, trees, and some houses. Some of them made graphic representations of the night that Washi happened. Some of them drew God since according to them, that’s where their parents/friends/siblings are now. All of them were strong enough not to cry while sharing their story to us, and I believe it’s because they would rather show strength instead of weakness.
Most of us perceive children as vulnerable because of their lack of experience and their physical built. In some aspects, I will have to agree. But, in general, I view children as the strongest individuals ever created. During the assessment, I chanced upon some of them and asked them how they are and the common reply was “Ok ra mi, nahitabo na ang nahitabo, padayon ang kinabuhi (we’re fine, what happened happened, life goes on)”. These children showed resilience and optimism in the face of adversity.
To UP LISSA, thank you so much because it is through your help that we had the chance to conduct an assessment in Cagayan De Oro. Thank you so much and keep up the good work! 🙂
Although it has already been three months since the disaster, a lot of things still need to be done. As I write this, the ChildHeal Facilitators are still in Cagayan De Oro conducting Psychosocial sessions with the children in Lower Balulang. A lot of areas still need help. If you’re reading this, you might want to think of ways to help the city. Thank you very much.