HAIYAN: How World Vision Child Friendly Places Bring RecoveryBy Annila Harris, World Vision communications associate
Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms on record to make landfall, battered the Philippines on November 8, 2013 and caused catastrophic damage. World Vision’s teams continue to respond with emergency relief supplies for children and families in desperate need.
“Come Harvy, come. See, all the other children are drawing their wishes. Come draw yours here on this coloured paper,” gently coaxes Harvy’s teacher.
Gradually lifting his head, Harvy’s expressionless face reveals no sign of comprehension. He recalls the winds of the Typhoon Haiyan: “It was cold and it was raining. The wind was strong. I was scared that the wind would take me away with the roof.”
Finding warmth and comfort in his grandmother’s embrace, Harvy and his sister bid goodbye to their home as water gushed in and then sought shelter in a neighbor’s house.
“The rain stopped and the water went back. I saw my house. The kitchen was destroyed by coconut trees. The roof, blown away,” says Harvy.
Harvy fears the wrath of the winds coming again and is reluctant to come to the elementary school, the site of World Vision’s Child-Friendly Space. Assured of the benefits, his grandmother accompanies him daily.
“This program helps Harvy,” says his grandmother. “He comes back home and talks about what he did. He is talking more.”
It is through colored paper and meeting his friends that Harvy is empowered to conquer his fears. “Drawing helps me feel good,” he says.
Child-Friendly Spaces allow children to express themselves through art and play, and enable them to connect with other children facing similar distressing experiences. The volunteers are trained to observe and identify issues of child protection and stress among children after a catastrophic disaster and administer special care for them.
“When he started drawing, we understood what was bothering him. The child is afraid and traumatized with the typhoon because his parents are not here to comfort him. We have noted this and are trying to help Harvy through this difficult time in his life,” says Harvy’s teacher.
Fold by fold, the teacher turns Harvy’s yellow sheet into a boat ready to be released in the river. Each fold showcases Harvy’s wishes: a family together, his favorite toys and a pencil that symbolizes his hope of going to school and one day working in the city when he grows up.
Harvy will travel with his teacher to the river to release his wish boat into the vastness of the water, in the hope that someday his wishes will come true.
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