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Children Struggle to Deal with Typhoon Aftermath

Children play amid the rubble of ruined buildings in Cateel
Children play amid the rubble of ruined buildings in Cateel
December 19, 2012

“At night when I sleep, I suddenly wake. In my dreams, I visit the nightmare of the people I saw being hurt,” says 12-year-old Alyza Grace.

Alyza making the attempt to come to terms with what Typhoon Bopha did to her community in Davao Oriental which is located about 590 miles southeast of Manila.

When Bopha ripped through the Philippines earlier this month with winds of up to 162 mph, it unleashed the kind of destruction not seen in those parts for 100 years. Entire communities were destroyed and more than 1,000 people have been confirmed dead.

Putting the Pieces Back Together

 

Countless homes were leveled by the storm of the century and Alyza's house was among the casualties. Now as families struggle to rebuild their homes and lives, many children are having a difficult time processing what they have experienced.

“I feel afraid because I'm scared of having an accident or getting wounded. I get worried every time I see a wounded person. I've seen so many wounded people,” adds Alyza.

Her father Alex, a pedicab taxi driver by trade, has noticed a change in the behavior of all of his children. “Mentally, the children have changed. They were playing like normal before, but now when there's wind or any rain, they run and hide for shelter. They call out for their parents and get very scared when they hear loud noises. They can't sleep and wake up suddenly in the night and start crying,” he says.

Coming to Terms with the Situation

 

Carin van der Hor, country director of children's organization Plan Philippines, says many of the children affected by Bopha exhibit classic signs of serious distress.

“We've seen that some of the children in affected communities have been struggling to cope with what they've endured. They're barely interacting with their families and they’re not speaking,” she adds.

As part of its emergency response across Mindanao, Plan will offer psychosocial support to severely affected children and their families to address their emotional, social, and mental needs. If left untreated, long-term psychological problems can develop.

“The children need to return to some semblance of normalcy as soon as possible. They need to play and to enjoy themselves once again. This is why we're setting up child-friendly spaces across the region where the girls and boys can relax and digest their experiences,” adds van der Hor.

Plan's Response to Typhoon Bopha

In addition to offering psychosocial counseling and disaster training to communities in need, Plan has deployed teams of technical experts to support the immediate delivery of clean drinking water, food, medical supplies, and educational resources. With over 50 years of experience working in the Philippines, Plan has also been recognized for its expertise in protecting emergency-affected children from abuse, exploitation, neglect, and violence.

 

 

Information for Sponsors

We will contact sponsors directly if we receive any news about individual sponsored children. If you are planning a visit or have any particular concerns around this issue, please contact our Donor Relations staff at donorrelations@planusa.org or at 1-800-556-7918.

How You Can Help

Plan is currently collecting funds to aid those affected. To make a donation, visit our "Make a Donation" page, and select the "Disaster Relief & Recovery" fund in the "Gift Information" section.

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