HEALING THE HEALERS: TRAINING CHILD TRAUMA IN SAMAR

As I arrived at the resort hotel in Western Samar, I was greeted by smiles of young people barely older than the children we were training them to serve.  These youth were ecstatic to stay in the beautiful hotel, swim in the pool and  sleep in real beds after living in tents for months.  You see they were from Eastern Samar where Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) swept away whole villages.  After serving as crew leaders during the Quinapondan child trauma camp they were getting a well deserved treat as well as training to prepare them for dozens of camps over the next few months.

Best Selfie Ever

 

I was impressed at how eager they were to absorb the material, as I taught them about critical incident stress, PTSD, child protection and how to care for their own emotional and spiritual health as well as their teammates.  They knew just how important it was and listened as through their very lives depended on it.  (And they just might)  Since we have now completed two OperationSAFE camps in the Philippines; Zamboanga and Quinapondan, the veterans of those camps have now become the trainers passing along songs, crafts, games and Bible stories to those who will lead the children next.

As Little Children

After long days of training, they stayed on to translate “Pete’s Adventure” into their local Warai dialect so that the children in the next camps will be able to understand the story even better.  There are six towns in Eastern Samar where the child trauma camps will be held; Quinapondan, Balangkayan, Hernani, Giporlos, Balangiga and Lawa-an.  Once the initial camps arecompleted, local teams will then conduct smaller camps in the barangay (communities) surrounding these centers.

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As we finished the week of training we spent time talking through with each person what they had experienced during the disaster.  For many of them it was difficult both to talk about the terrible things that they saw and also to listen to the stories of others, but through it they were able to share their burden, find that they are not alone, and pray for one another.Healing the Healers

 

TESTIMONY FROM DR. JOJIE ILAGAN: QUINAPONDAN CHILD TRAUMA CAMP

Adventure Station

I began to feel the shivers inside me as I started to picture in my mind how I will be able to deliver “Pete’s Adventure” with his friends, using Pilipino language to relate to 200 children and crew leaders who are mostly using the Visayan (Waray) dialect.  In the two weeks prior to our departure, I was really struggling inside me on whether to accept the task and was praying that somebody else will be assigned to be in charge. I then prayed for wisdom and the courage and creativity as I started to review the modules, storyboards, and translation of Pete’s story in Tagalog, one story, one theme, one day at a time.

Children of Quinapondan

 

The storyline and translations seemed to be simple enough to be readily understood but what kept me apprehensive during the pre-departure period was the fact that I will be facing grades 1 and 2 children who had suffered trauma during typhoon Yolanda and the “fear” of the unexpected when we start camp in Quinapondan, Eastern Samar. We then continued to pray and seek God’s wisdom for organizing ourselves, packaging of our baggages, things we need to bring as emergency aids (given that there are still no electricity, with possible tents as our resting areas, transport concerns, excess baggages, and completion of the Op SAFE materials that we need to bring with us). We continued to pray for a secured place to stay and that the generator that was bought by PCMN will be the source of our power supply. Three days prior to departure, we were informed that we will be residing in the newly rented PCMN Mission house and that electrical supply become operational once again in the municipality! Halleluliah, and Praise be to Our Lord Jesus Christ for His faithfulness in answering our prayers….

Quinapondan Children

February 4 Tuesday (Day 1 Camp)

My prayer….“Dear Lord, please help me to remember the storyline of Pete, translate the words correctly, coordinate the movement of cards and get the attention of the children and let them appreciate Pete’s adventure.” I then remembered and reflected on the theme of the day ….”You are not alone….FEAR NOT”.  Then the jitters inside left me as I personally noticed that I was actually enjoying the time with the children when I told the story of Pete. God has really brought out of me the penguin walk, the penguin grimace, the penguin’s sad face, and a lot more of other movements that captured the attention of the kids. I was so relieved and happy to see them smiling, participating, and interacting with me throughout the session. It was being noted that there was one child who was affected by Pete’s story of separation from his parents. The teacher reported that she became so sad and teary eyed as she remembered the loss of her father during a recent flashflood while he was fishing for food in the river. She was then monitored as she moved through the different stations and was referred to Ms Wendy. I also noted the crew leaders and the assistant station leader (teacher-in charge) was also listening attentively….Thank you Jesus for day 1.

Quinapondan Children

February 5 Wednesday (Day 2 Camp)

As we started Day 2 of the camp, we noted the excitement from the children’s faces as they walked the streets towards the school premises. It was even more challenging for me for I have to learn how to present 4 of Pete’s friends in the scenario. I had to project the voice of a big walrus, 3 other penguins, and then to a baby seal needs a little bit of creativity to capture the interest of the children. The day’s theme was “Everybody is important….FEAR NOT.”  I remember how the children were able to recall the name of Pete’s friends that day and describing their character. For me, it was an indicator of their attention span and interest and how they are doing in terms of their participation in the station’s activity. “Thank you dear Father God for sustaining me through the 5 batches of children for the day.”

Quinapondan Children

February 6 Thursday (Day 3 Camp)

As I was reviewing and preparing for day 3 character (Aurora) to be introduced as another friend of Pete, I faced the most difficult part when Aurora (who was a big old whale) will have to sing some lines as she swims towards Pete and his friends. My initial reaction was….oh no, now I have to sing!! Haayyy……this one is difficult as we tried to find a song that would fit Aurora’s line (in Tagalog). I prayed hard before I slept that night for God to provide me with the right notes and tune for the lines. I woke up early and reviewed the module on Aurora’s story and started to hum some notes. Lo and behold, God’s wisdom and faithfulness has allowed and provided me with the “song of Aurora” which I introduced to the children and the crew. “Sundin ang iyong puso (follow your heart)…sundin ang iyong puso (follow your heart)….sundin at maniwala ka (follow and believe), ” the song reflected the theme of the day which was “Follow and believe….FEAR NOT.”  It was easy for the children to learn the song and they were even singing it as they were moving to the other stations. This was another signal that they are having fun and learning at the same time. God’s love was already felt inside their hearts as they were singing Aurora’s song. Praise God our Lord Jesus Christ for the love and music in our hearts!

February 7 Friday (Day 4 Camp)

Day 4 was another challenge for the OpSAFE team as we were being informed that it will be the last day of the camp. For me, my thoughts were, how can I finish the 2 remaining adventure stories and other activities in 3 hours. I prayed hard for God’s guidance to keep me focused so that I will not lose on time. I was able to finish the first batch on time but during the second batch, I was being called for an emergency with one teacher who was not feeling well. I immediately notified Dr Wendy that I need to leave the station to attend to the sick teacher. I was later on informed by Dr Wendy that my assistant station leader Ms Norma (teacher assigned in the room) took over the story telling session in Waray. I was so glad and happy to receive the news as Dr Wendy was describing to me how the teacher was relating the stories to the children the same way that I had been moving around and depicting the various characters in the storyboard. We were all happy at how Ms Norma handled the session that we both agreed to do it together on the last batch. We also noted that rain started to fall and so it was decided that the raincoats will already be distributed to the children. During the last batch of children, the rain was falling hard and the wind became stronger which actually distracted (once again) the attention of the children. I saw all them turn their heads all at the same time staring at the windows and very quiet. I then told them that we will pray together (me in Tagalog and Ms Norma translating it in Waray). As we ended the prayer, the children felt better and waited for the next activity. As the children wore their individual raincoats, they were so happy and excited. We were informed by Ms Norma that this was the first time ever that these children each receive a raincoat that they can use. The children were smiling and singing as they started to exit. The joy and gladness can be observed in their smiles and how they expressed themselves to most of us especially their crew leaders.

Quinapondan Children

“Nais ko pong ipahayag ang kabutihan ng Pangainoong Hesus sa akin sa mga nangyaring himala at masasayang oras na ipinagkaloob ng ating Panginoon Hesus upang maabot, magamot, at mabigyan katuwaan ang mga bata at mga iba pang kapatiran na dumanas ng hirap hindi lamang sa pisikal kundi pati sa emosyonal na aspeto ng kanilang mga buhay matapos ang pagsalanta ng bagyong Yolanda. Ang Kanyang katapatan at mga kaloob na kakayahan ay tunay kong pinasasalamatan dahil kung sa aking sariling lakas at dunong ay hindi ko kayang gampanan ang itinakdang Niyang gampanin para sa akin na makapagkwento sa grade 1 and 2 students ng paaralan. Alam ko na mula pa sa umpisa ay kinakabahan na ako sa dahilan na ang bahaging ito [Adventure Station] ay hindi madali at hindi biro lalu na sa pagpapadaloy ng kwento ni Pete. Salamat sa ipinagkaloob ng Panginoon Hesus sa pamamagitan ng Banal na Espiritu na patuloy na gumagabay sa bawat isa sa amin at nagbigay ng lakas ng loob, karunungan, at kakayahan upang maganap ang maayos at nakatutuwang pakikipag-usap at pagkuwento sa mga bata.  Patuloy kong pinanghahawakan ang Kanyang mga pangako sa Jeremiah 29:11 at sa Filipos 4:4-9. Maibalik nawa ang papuri at luwalhati sa Kanyang dakilang Pangalan.”

OPERATIONSAFE CHILD TRAUMA CAMP IN QUINAPONDAN, EAST SAMAR

The first OperationSAFE child trauma camp in East Samar finished in the city of Quinapondan.  The Philippines Children’s Ministry Network and local volunteers held the 5-day camp with support from Humedica and the Billy Graham Evangelical Association.

Christmas Stollen Project: Thank you so much for your help!

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Praise the Holy Name of the Lord!

Thank you for your precious prayers and cooperation with the project. We were able to raise 104,000 yen, along
with the churches of Sendai and Koriyama at the temporary housing cafes we were able to provide 25 stollen!(Christmas Cakes)

From Koriyama Cooperative Staff – Yuko Shiotsu

These were just some of the comments I heard from disaster survivors living in Aizu.

“The stollen was very delicious, thank you so much!”

“It was so well made and contained delicious apples.”

“We are so happy that people all over Japan remembered us”,

From Sendai Office Leader – Ayumu Sasaki

Through the precious gifts of everyone, We were able to finish the 2013 CRASH Japan Christmas Project full of
blessings.  So many people wondered “what is stollen?” “Is it food?”, so I was able to explain about it and after that everyone was really happy to receive them.  I was able to have the opportunity to explain unfamiliar Christmas customs to people.  I would like to express my heartfelt thanks, and ask for your continued prayers for Tohoku.

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OPERATIONSAFE IN ZAMBOANGA: CRAFTS HELP HEAL TRAUMA

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Reflections on OperationSAFE Zamboanga from Craft Station Leader Mho

A long time ago, I desired to go to Mindanao. After the Operation Safe training with the Wilsons, I sat in on the meetings for Opsafe Zamboanga even though I knew at that time I would not be able to go.  But surprisingly, by God’s grace and will there came the opportunity to be part of the first Opsafe Camp in the Philippines.

Truly, I was blessed serving those kids together with people of the same heart and faith. Even spending Christmas and New Year celebration away from my dear family, I know Jesus is worth it all.

DAY 00 REFLECTION– HONEYMOON STAGE

Everyone was getting excited the night before. I felt the same way as well. I enjoyed listening, talking and sharing with Dr. Jojie.  God imparted in my heart after the conversation that I have to make the most of the time I have left. That kept me going and more excited.

We had volunteer orientation.  It was so smooth with the help of Jemima (OpSafe coordinator in Zamboanga) with

amazing effort – to the max!  Even before the conversation with the team, I was thinking what if possibly those volunteers have been in trauma.  But truly, I was so blessed seeing them trying to understand what Opsafe is during the orientation. Some might not grasp everything about this trauma care process but God did amazing things in short amount of time like what He did in Nehemiah’s life.  He was able to rebuild the wall in 52 days. Amazing isn’t it? In a short amount of time OpSafe volunteers were able to be part of the first aid for those kids in trauma. I saw that they were the best people to really understand those kids because they also experienced the same thing. But still, it depends on their heart (if it’s ready) and responses.

After the orientation, I talked to the mother of two volunteers. She told me that her son was so depressed and kept asking her about his father’s death. They grew up without him. His father was killed without any valid reason – she added it’s normal in their area. He was just one of those who are broken not just because of war but also because of their own emotional poverty.  I saw that God really uses people even they are broken.

DAY 01 REFLECTION – A CHALLENGE

The first day with the kids became more exciting. I was busy preparing for my station. I was down in the registration area and I was fascinated by a group of cute little kids. I acted like a kid to get their attention. Then, I was shocked when Kuya Ruel told me that the number of participants is more than of what we were expecting. I saw Pastor Ceasar and he told us to give them snacks and afterwards they will be sent home.

A special program was held for little friends.

While entertaining the kids, there was one of them whom I called “Batman” and asked his name. He cried and his mother told me that after the war her son became fearful and cried a lot. He didn’t go back in the group. Batman was one of the cute little 5-6 years old.

The team thought that if we sent them home – it might not be helpful because they might be the ones in pain.

It was a challenge. Most of us bore the burden for those kids. By God’s grace and wisdom the team ended up taking the responsibility for those kids. We took the challenge. Everyone has been flexible and it stretched our faith.

In every station there were challenges because of the increase of number of participants. We prepared for 150 participants only but there were 180 kids. The first day was finished and everyone was so amazed in God’s hand. He made the day. Its worth to trust Him even it seems so impossible (that’s faith). If it is His will it will be done!

I was thinking the whole time in my station how will everyone be able to make their own craft. God made it possible. It makes my eyes roll and my head spin when there were two pouches and one towel left. Everyone was able to make their craft. Incredible!

I got back in my devotion that day, it says in Philippians 2: 13 “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose”. Beyond doubt He did, and He let us saw His invisible hand working.

In addition, I remember the child who made an abstract drawing on his pouch. He used dark colors in his craft. The crew leader caught my attention when she said that this kid made an abstract. Although, I know it might say something regarding his emotions and thought that he cannot express we just let him finish the way he wanted.

DAY 02 REFLECTION – A LITTLE BIT OF CULTURE SHOCK

It was my first experience to be asked to stop using Jesus name in teaching. I was not hurt because of who asked me but because of the thought that I was restricted to tell Jesus. I was used to share who Jesus in my life and His teachings in my work place, in church, in Luzon (technically). I was shocked that the freedom I have became limited when I get to the south. I was so sad that day not because I lost my eyeglasses or I was tired but because of the burden in my heart.

I submitted and respectedthe authority. The next batches I used God instead of Jesus. During the session for the last batch for the day, I was thinking if we will pray again. In my thought I was really struggling I wanted to pray the way I used to be but I know I have to obey and respect the Opsafe mission and goal. But I was so surprise when one of the kid called me and said, “Ate Mho, pray tayo” (Ate Mho, lets pray). I was relieved and I prayed the way I used to be.

The staff or the team should be trained well. I remember what Pastor Jonathan said, you will do what you are trained to do.

Small groups are the heart of OpSAFE

Brokenness

We had time to talk in small group and share things that burdens them. In my group – compose of three girls and a boy, all of them were from broken family. Brokenness is one factor that burdens the kids. One of them told me that her mother left them and her father really works hard for them. Many stories were shared regarding their issues in their families but I keep on telling them that Jesus our Lord always catches them in times of trouble.

Unfortunately, the time was very short to keep the conversation.

DAY 03 REFLECTION – TIME PRESSURED

Some of the beads glow in the dark!

In craft station, our craft for the day was the key chain. We struggled for time. Most of the kids choose different beads so it took time. Most of them also did know how to make the key chains. They find it hard to tie the chain. And also, it was agreed to lessen the time. But in craft station it was really hard to do that. The kids were pressured because we have short time to finish and the next group was waiting outside.

But somehow, the kids were able to ask help during this time due to time pressure. It also helps the leaders and for me to spend time with the kids even for a little while. There are stories of fear. I was roaming around when one of the kids was alone making her own key chain. She said she witnessed how the rebels cut the arms of some men. I felt like it was normal for her to tell the story. I observed also that the same kid was telling the same story to other leaders. It

seemed that she wanted attention from the ates and kuyas. I heard the same stories from the kids. They were afraid but I saw that most of them were taking those things normal now.

After the day, I was able to talk to craft station assistant leader. She said it was normal for her to have a nightmare. She always saw in her dream that she was one of the rebels, shooting people using firearms. When the thoughts are coming back she struggles. During the war she and her family immediately evacuated the area because once the rebels saturated the area they could not go outside to buy food. By God’s grace they were able to escape. Now, they prepare themselves for possible attack again of the rebels. They have their emergency bag anytime the war starts they can just grab it and go.

She also shared what the rebel did that was blocked in media. The rebels used human shields during the war.

I can’t help but pray for her, so we prayed together.

DAY 04 REFLECTION – CHANGES OCCURRED

I changed the craft for the fourth day because the material was not applicable. The colors that we have are non-toxic and it didn’t make a good result. So, we decided to let them draw anything or anyone who gives them courage. The crew leaders were also able to talk to them and pray for them also.

Children draw who encourages them.

The additional waiver that the children wrote also pressured them. The waiver was for their parents to know that there will be Christmas party the next day. I saw in the first batch that they really find it hard to enjoy the craft and conversation with the crew leaders because of the short time and additional task to do. In the next batches, I tried to write the waiver on the papers before they start. My assistant was the one facilitating while I was writing the waiver for the next batches. It helps and by God’s grace the kids were able to enjoy the craft.

DAY 05 REFLECTION – BLESSING IN DISGUISE

Kids became more excited and some expressed separation anxiety. We have the teddy towel for the last craft. I love this craft much.

Cute bears!

Being love is our theme for the last day. Even I expect that they will find it hard to do the craft I was so amaze how the kids make it easily. I just stand in front above the chair and demonstrate to them how and let them follow one by one. Incredible they’ve got it.

I remind them that Opsafe team will not be forever be here but there I will leave the one that will love them forever its Christ.

As soon as they finished I asked them to give name to their teddy. It might be the one they love or the one who love them so much. Most of them enjoyed the craft.

There were stories of the kids naming the teddies, “Milari” and “Misuari” – they are the leaders of MNLF.  Surprisingly, most of the poor families in the area were so thankful to what had happened because they received plenty of food. They received relief goods in bulk. Compared to their situation before the war, in evacuation it is more convenient because they don’t have to work hard to get food.

In our eyes what happened was worst but for some of them it was a blessing in disguise.

IN RETROSPECT

We might not able to record some stories but in God’s eye it wasn’t hidden. There are reasons behind all what happen. These must awaken the believers to be the salt and light of this world. Opsafe Camp is short-term yet I believe God can make things worth even to the least thing that we’ve shared and done to help the kids and to let them find hope in Christ. This experience helps me more and more to stand in the gap for Christ and make Him known.

Praise God for all of these. Jesus is worth of all the cost of my obedience