With all of the gifted volunteers willing to serve in Japan, CRASH Japan is sometimes able to channel unique talents and skill sets into their outreach events. One volunteer, Yukiko Hirano, has practiced Japanese tea ceremony for over 40 years. She was delighted to have the opportunity to serve survivors of the great earthquake and tsunami, who are now living in temporary housing.Hirano-san sees many similarities between Japanese tea ceremony and the Christian faith. The cloth that goes around the waist of the person performing the ceremony is much like the cloth Christ wore around his waist when he washed the feet of his disciples. It is meant to signify servanthood, and a position of humility.In this special volunteer portrait video, you can see the beauty and grace of Hirano-san’s art. Your prayer and donations continue to make it possible for CRASH to connect with survivors in a meaningful way. Thank you for the support.
World Relief Indonesia has been implementing a psychosocial support project to serve asylum seekers/refugees in a detention center in Bali. In 2013, there were at least 120 asylum seekers from various countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Turkey being detained there. The definition ofasylum seeker applies to all people fleeing persecution in their country, adults and children. Children are one of the most vulnerable groups of asylum seekers. They are subject to multiple, serious stressors. These include dealing with the behavioral and psychological distress in adults, dislocation from protective social groups and structures, witnessing violence and self-harm, and separation from important relational attachments. These stressors have incredible negative impacts such as: depression, stress-related medical conditions, and delayed growth and development. They can also manifest themselves in violence.
Three days of training by Jonathan and Rie Wilson on October 2013 has improved the capacity of World Relief Indonesia’s Refugee Team in providing psychosocial support for the asylum seeker children. We were equipped to run the five-day camp in the detention center where we have been serving these children by providing opportunities for education, self-expression, and play.
The parents of these twenty-three children commented that they had never seen their children so happy ever since they were detained.
Due to the regulations, facility and the various cultural backgrounds in the detention center, World Relief had to make a few adaptations to the original format. But the team of seven staff and volunteers managed to run the camp without any significant difficulty on the third week of December 2013. The impact, thankfully, was encouraging and heartwarming. The parents of these twenty-three children commented that they had never seen their children so happy ever since they were detained. The team also witnessed the children’s positive behavioral changes after the camp ended.
The following story was written by one of the staff who took part in the OpSAFE camp:
Omar* is such an adorable 5 year old boy from Iran. His chubby face is cutely framed with his light blue framed eyeglasses that he has been wearing for a couple of years. Although he is big for his age, he is the gentlest and the most polite boy in the detention center. Omar and his family–father, mother, a twin sister with cerebral palsy, uncle and aunty, have been in the detention center for over 3 months now, and they will still be detained until further notice. They are trying to get refugee status so that they could be resettled in Australia.
When I first met Omar, he was so shy that he did not even mention his name. He was hiding himself behind his father. I could tell that he was curious about me and other World Relief staff, as he kept on peeping at us and trying to hold his smile when I smiled at him. From then on, every time I approached him, if his parents were not around, he would retreat to his room. Omar and I never had a moment of talking or playing together like the other kids in the detention center until December 2013.
After getting trained to run 5 days activity of “Child Trauma Healing Intervention” on October 2013, the staff team and I were excited to implement what we had learnt. We were really encouraged in providing emotional care to children in the detention center who are traumatized by the violence in their home country, the rough journey and transition, as well as the limiting and, often time, harsh environment in the detention center. I was in charge of a group leader in which Omar was a part of.
During the first two days, Omar would not want to join the group if his father was not there with him. He would run out of the class or the activity to his room looking for his father when he lost sight of him. Although I encouraged him to stay with his friends in the classroom, he would politely say that he needed to look for his father. That was the sign that he did not yet have the trust in his friends and me as crew leader, and that was something that I was ready to handle because it was mentioned on the training. Getting the children’s trust is something we would like to achieve in order to be able to provide them emotional care.
On the third day of the activity, I was surprised to see that Omar would come out of his room without his father when I called him out. He also grabbed my hand when we walk together to the classroom, for the very first time. When his father had to attend an interview with UNHCR, he stayed calmly in the class throughout the day. I was so surprised as much as I was so grateful about it.
What we taught during the five days activity: You are not Alone! Everyone is Important! Follow and Believe! Be Strong and Courageous! and You are Loved! seemed to impress the children’s heart. We prayed together, played and ate together and the kids have grown their trust for us. We are thankful to be able to improve our capacity to love and help the children in the detention center.
*For security reasons, the name of the child has been changed.
IN APRIL AND MAY WE ARE GOING TO HELP 1000 CHILDREN RECOVER FROM TRAUMA IN THE PHILIPPINES!
Recovering from disaster is hard enough for adults, can you imagine what it can feel like for a child? Research shows that untreated childhood trauma leads to a higher risk of social, neuropsychiatric and other medical problems. Yet most of the children affected by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) have no access to psychological care. Without care, a whole generation is in danger or being lost to depression, PTSD, teenage pregnancy, adolescent drug abuse, school failure, victimization, anti-social behaviour and other long-term effects of trauma.
BUT WE ARE GOING TO DO SOMETHING TO HELP!
Over the next two months we are going to hold OperationSAFE camps in six towns in the typhoon affected region of Samar. Each camp will serve around 150-180 children who went through Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). Through the camp they will receive primary emotional first-aid and screening for more severe problems. These will be just the beginning as afterwards smaller camps will be held in barangays (villages) around each town.
April 1-5 Balangkayan
April 21-25 Hernani
April 28- May 2nd Lawa’an
May 6-10 Balangiga
May 20-24 Giporlos
May 27-31 Quinapondan
WHAT WE NEED NOW IS FOR YOU TO BE INVOLVED!
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.
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.
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.
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.