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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

OPERATIONSAFE CAMP IN ZAMBOANGA

OPERATIONSAFE CAMP IN ZAMBOANGA

In late December, OperationSAFE held a child trauma resiliency camp in Zamboanga, Mindanao in the Philippines. This was the first of its kind in the nation and the staff found parents begging that their children be allowed to participate because of the trauma that they had experienced.

OpSAFE Snack Station

OpSAFE Snack Station

You are Loved

You are Loved

You are Loved

You are Loved

Be Strong and Be Brave

Be Strong and Be Brave

OpSAFE Adventure Station

OpSAFE Adventure Station

Pete teaches "You are not Alone"

Pete teaches “You are not Alone”

Wally teaches "Everyone is Important"

Wally teaches “Everyone is Important”

Aurora teaches "Follow and Believe"

Aurora teaches “Follow and Believe”

Sally teaches "Be Strong and Be Brave"

Sally teaches “Be Strong and Be Brave”

Pete asks his friend Sally, "What's Wrong?"

Pete asks his friend Sally, “What’s Wrong?”

Children love stories.

Children love stories.

Bible Story Station

Bible Story Station

Each day has a message from the Bible.

Each day has a message from the Bible.

Children hear principles through familiar stories

Children hear principles through familiar stories

Leaders help children write their dreams.

Leaders help children write their dreams.

"I want to become a teacher and help my family"

“I want to become a teacher and help my family”

Craft Station

Craft Station

Children decorate their bag with their name.

Children decorate their bag with their name.

Each day they receive a character pin.

Each day they receive a character pin.

Children make a toy that also teaches resiliency

Children make a toy that also teaches resiliency

Can you catch it?

Can you catch it?

Children learn best through play

Children learn best through play

Each child's creation is unique

Each child’s creation is unique

Some of the beads glow in the dark!

Some of the beads glow in the dark!

Girls love the pretty crafts

Girls love the pretty crafts

Draw someone who gives you strength

Draw someone who gives you strength

Children draw who encourages them.

Children draw who encourages them.

Building a bear out of a towel.

Building a bear out of a towel.

Cute bears!

Cute bears!

Games Station

Games Station

You are not alone!

You are not alone!

Groups play together and make new friends.

Groups play together and make new friends.

Lets play together.

Lets play together.

Children need to play even after trauma.

Children need to play even after trauma.

Local youth leaders join in the fun.

Local youth leaders join in the fun.

You are not alone.

You are not alone.

Can you listen and follow?

Can you listen and follow?

When you can't find your way alone, having a friend helps!

When you can’t find your way alone, having a friend helps!

Small groups share what it is like.

Small groups share what it is like.

Water relay race

Water relay race

Be strong and be brave

Be strong and be brave

You are loved

You are loved

You are loved

You are loved

Send your dreams a flying!

Send your dreams a flying!

Opening and finale with 180 children.

Opening and finale with 180 children.

Praying together

Praying together

Local youth crew leaders

Local youth crew leaders

The little ones needed care too

The little ones needed care too

Praying together

Praying together

Singing together

Singing together

Small groups are the heart of OpSAFE

Small groups are the heart of OpSAFE

Children love dancing

Children love dancing

Praying together

Praying together

Friends make everything better

Friends make everything better

Friends make everything better

Friends make everything better

Everyone gets to dance, even leaders!

Everyone gets to dance, even leaders!

Because of the armed conflict, guards ensured the security of the camp.

Because of the armed conflict, guards ensured the security of the camp.

A special program was held for little friends.

A special program was held for little friends.

Christmas gifts after the program.

Christmas gifts after the program.

The whole OpSAFE Zamboanga team.

The whole OpSAFE Zamboanga team.

OPERATIONSAFE IN ZAMBOANGA: THE STORYTELLER’S STORY

Reflection of Operation Safe Camp- Zamboanga

Roel S. de los Reyes

Aurora teaches "Follow and Believe"

Operation Safe is based upon the psychological principles of crisis intervention specially facilitating an individual’s restoration to adaptive functioning or referring that individual to a higher level of care. This statement has been translated to us during the Operation Safe Training conducted by Jonathan and Rie Wilson of Operation Safe CRASH-Japan. Personally, I am very eager to learn and “digest” all those that the lecturers have given/handed to us. But I am more at ease with the story telling as this is a major part of the technique for children so that the children could identify with the characters in the story and feel safer relating to their stories, fears and concerns through the imaginary characters.

As I volunteered to be part of the team in going to Zamboanga, one major problem I encountered is how am I going to translate the story of Pete’s Adventure in such a way that the children could understand and relate their own stories to the characters and feel more safer in relation to what they have experienced and encountered particularly that they have been affected during the September, 2013 war or armed conflict that happened in their very own place!

OpSAFE Adventure Station

Translating Pete’s Adventure in Filipino language has been very difficult since terminologies must accurately fit with the kind of words or messages  the story conveys. Nights after nights, I exerted efforts so that Zamboanga children could really understand and make use of the characters as a springboard of psychological restoration to adaptive functioning.  Resiliency among Filipino children are inherent  and they have their own ways of adapting though it takes time and need certain technique/strategy to assist and surface the psychological trauma they have experienced. Every night I kept reading the Filipino translation I  made and I kept on identifying certain appropriate terms to fit the exact terms or words.  At the last day of the week that I kept on reading and re reading and changing and re-changing the words, I just prayed!

ALL OF THE TEAM MEMBERS ARE READY AND PREPARED FOR THE ZAMBOANGA TRIP!

In Mampang Elementary School where we are going to conduct the Operation Safe Camp, I feel overwhelmed as there are so many children! There are some mothers with their children and keep on asking if her child be included even if her child is not included in the pre-registration.  At first, we told them that the target age bracket is 7 to 12 years old. At that moment, the mother narrated that her son must be included in the Operation Safe Camp as he also has witnessed the havoc that the war brought.  She pleaded that her son have been traumatized as her son manifested behavior  that have been not normal like bedwetting, body shaking every time he sees a  man who look like a military personnel or wearing military uniforms, unshaven man, etc. and becomes aloof. My heart goes to this little boy!   Dr. Jojie Ilagan and I heard the story from the mother and I feel so burdened that at the time the team calls for an immediate team response/action for those unlisted children as they are not included in the age bracket we have targeted.  And have come up with a decision to include  these children and we know during that first day that we have exceeded our target number of 150 children to 180 children!

The little ones needed care too

But as we walked towards the Pete’s Adventure assigned room to prepare our materials, I requested one of my team mate, Teacher Mho to pray for me and for the team.

Pete’s Adventure station is my assignment.  Together with my assistant station leader and some volunteers, we prepared the room and the materials. After which, I briefed the volunteers and prayed together. And requested them to accompany the assigned crew and group of children after the Opening Station session where the children are now enjoying the new song, the themes and characters of the story.

As the assigned Story-teller of Pete’s Adventure, I have utilized theater antics/strategies, body movements, participatory actions, and sound effects to actualize the scenario of Pete’s Adventure.  I tried to let the children visualize the actual scenes from day 1 to day 5, from Pete the penguin, Wally the walrus, to Aurora the orca, to Sally the seal, and finally to Corey the polar bear.

Children love stories.

Each day, Pete’s Adventure station has been transformed (at least) to the scenes where the story happened. Each day, the children expected new character story. Each day a new theme has been learned. Each day have been  full of children eager to listen and participate in the actualization of the stories. I know they enjoyed the stories as all of them listened attentively and every time I mentioned the Themes, they shouted Fear Not.  And in Filipino, Hwag matakot. Personally, I liked the Object lessons as this reinforced the theme’s messages and I liked the Day 4 Object lesson the most! Because when we are connected to Jesus you will be strong and be brave!

After the first day, I feel so over fatigue and just wanted to sleep and skip my lunch.

On the second day, before the Opening station, some boys called me “Kuya Pete! Kuya Pete!” I approached them and told them (again as this happened during the last day) that my name is Kuya Roel not Kuya Pete!  I smiled and asked “do you like Pete’s stories”? And they all answered yes.

Pete teaches "You are not Alone"

On the third day, as I finished Aurora’s Song, I asked the children if they like it. And the children answered back by saying ye. (Although I know I could not sing that much! Probably the children have been able to understand the message of the song… believe in the light and follow it… and there will be life, love, peace, and hope. And so we have to believe. . . In God!) My assistant station leader has made justice to the song of Aurora!  After the children left, I overheard groups of children chanting “Fear Not! Hwag matakot” in loud voices while going back to the Final station.  And I smiled.

Fourth and Fifth day are Sally’s and Corey’s stories… I observed that the children are expecting new “actions and movements” while narrating the stories. So I changed the timbre of my voice and produced   a different “voice” as according to the expected characters.  As I moved while narrating the stories, I looked into their eyes and seen the eagerness to listen and learn more of the characters of the stories.

Ah, I know that by the last day and final story, all of the children have listened and participated in the stories,  have been able to absorb the messages of the different themes. As they have enjoyed the new songs, and fellowship,  they have been able to identify the camaraderie they feel while attending the camp and able to adjust and function as a normal child.

The last day has been very memorable!  As the children enjoyed the songs with actions, you can see their smiles and laughter! You can feel the energy  as they requested more!

 

And I know… deep in their hearts … we have done SOMETHING for them… Thanks be to God!

 

Singing together

 

TRAUMA HELP FOR THE CHILDREN OF QUINAPONDAN

QUINAPONDAN, EAST SAMAR

The first OperationSAFE child trauma camp in East Samar will be held in Quinapondan from February 2nd to the 7th for 200 1st and 2nd grade students. East Samar is the area in centre right of the country marked in red in the map. This map shows the % of the population that lived below the poverty line BEFORE the disaster. The region is not as heavily populated as some of the other areas hit by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) but it bore the brunt of the surge and the winds and has received much less help.
I. Background on Crisis situation

Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda) swept through the central Philippines on 8 November killing over 6,000 and displacing 4 million people. The storm flattened homes and damaged schools, health centres and other infrastructure. Some experts estimate the storm was among the strongest ever to make landfall. About 100,000 people remain in evacuation centres six weeks after the storm. According to Philippine government and the UN the storm has affected 14.1 million people, leaving 4.1 million people displaced and over 1 million houses damaged. 6,069 have been reported dead and another 1,779 are missing as of December 16th.

II. OperationSAFE Child Trauma Camps

OperationSAFE is a child trauma intervention held to raise the resiliency of children who have been through mass trauma situations. It has been used successfully in China, Haiti, Tibet, Japan and the Philippines. The 5-day camp is run by trained volunteers in a Vacation Bible School format in cooperation with local churches. Each camp can serve 150 children between the ages of 5-12 and helps the majority of children to recover from post-traumatic stress and screens more severe cases for further care. OperationSAFE camps have been requested in 58 elementary and 78 pre-schools in East Samar.

III. Short-Term Mission Involvement

We are looking for churches to “adopt” one OperationSAFE camp. The responsibility of the church would be to raise money to sponsor children to attend the camp ($33 per child covers curriculum, supplies, staffing, travel and housing), send a short term team for a period of 10 days to assist the camp and local church host, and to provide prayer and on-going encouragement as the community recovers.

From Facebook…

すみません。ハスカップのおにぎりの写真を忘れました。 ... See MoreSee Less

3 days ago  ·  

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今日は午前中、地震で散らかってしまった上厚真の倉庫の片付けをしていただきました(私は同行せず、お店の留守番でした)。オヤツにいただいた「ハスカップのおにぎり」は予想に反してとても美味しかったです。夕方は急遽依頼の入った、ハロウィン用カボチャの荷下ろし。土曜日には子どもたちを集めてパーティーだそうです。明日は、今日片付けていただいた倉庫に、岡山からの支援物資が搬入される予定です。
今日で、岩手から来てくださったお二人は活動終了、明日早朝ベースを出発、八戸行のフェリーに乗船予定です。ありがとうございました。
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3 days ago  ·  

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今日の午前は穂別キリスト教会の会堂から荷物を運び出す作業をしました。昼に一度ベースに戻り、隣のティールームにおじゃまして、カレーとピザの昼食を食べてから、また厚真に行き、昨夜ベースに入ったボランティアに被災地を見ていただきました。今日もまたマスターに大変お世話になりました。本当にありがとうございました。 ... See MoreSee Less

4 days ago  ·  

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