Stories from the Children
Plan, in partnership with a consortium of aid agencies, conducted a child-friendly consultation with children that focused on the Hernani township in East Samar and Basey township in Western Samar. These two townships suffered some of the greatest losses following Typhoon Haiyan.
As part of the consultation, youth between the ages of 8 and 17, were invited to share their experiences and challenges with their peers and Plan’s youth facilitators. Their experiences will be factored into the future development of impacted communities and will help direct Plan's response over the next five years. The activity also gave the children an invaluable opportunity to share their stories within a supportive environment.
Children participated in games and activities designed to help them to share their views. During one activity, the children lay on a large piece of paper while their friends drew an outline around their bodies. The children then wrote their thoughts on post-it notes and adhered them to the corresponding parts of their ‘body map’, including the head (thoughts), eyes (vision), ears (hearing), mouth (food), shoulders (responsibility), torso (well-being), heart (feelings), and arms, hands, legs and feet (action and capabilities). The children were also encouraged to talk about their priorities and the ways in which their lives have changed since the typhoon.
“Our life became dark. We are not feeling lively. I have no urge to eat or to play. There is only one well and the water is too salty, so every day I walk two hours to another village first thing in the morning and again in the evening just to get some fresh water,” said 14-year-old Jeremy.
“I was lazy and naughty, but I have changed. I have new responsibilities. Every day, I go out and look for plastic or metal so that I can sell it. I want to help my family,” said 15-year-old Jone Paul.
“There are only two temporary toilets (one for boys and one for girls), provided for the whole community. I don’t like it because it is always dirty and smelly so it’s unavoidable to practice open defecation,” said 13-year-old Maryjoy.
“I don’t know if I can go back to school because my parents have no income,” said 15-year-old Mae.
“The whole community is very dark and silent at night. Sometimes, I hear someone crying. I can’t tell if it is a girl, boy, man or woman. I feel pity for them,” said 10-year-old Paolo.
All of the children have agreed that they want their community to be rebuilt—and all have witnessed enough devastation to last for a lifetime. Despite their experiences, their spirits remain high and many of them are confident that their circumstances will improve.
Sharing Helps Recovery
Trishia, 16, is a Plan Youth Facilitator who survived the typhoon. She is currently grieving for her grandmother who died in the storm, but remains focused on helping the children in her community.
“This activity is not just about ‘assessing’ the situation” she says. “This is an opportunity for children to express their feelings and for them to return to a sense of normality after experiencing such harsh times. Any issues that come to their minds, what matters to them and what their needs are will be heard. I understand them well. I know what they’re going through and I feel what they feel.”
Unni Krishnan, Plan's Head of Disaster Response and Preparedness, says the children's consultation will help girls and boys define their own needs, priorities, and gaps.
“In times of emergency, it seems like everything needs to be done all at once and it can be overwhelming. The consultation will help amplify children’s voice—voices that have been barely been heard up to now. It will make a big difference to the humanitarian response as the children can put forward their concerns and guide how we respond," he says.
The findings from Plan's consultations will now be combined with those of the other participating international agencies to help inform the aid response.