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Barrier-free and Enabling Environment for the Displaced Children of Marawi

After almost three months of war in the City of Marawi, destruction not only on the infrastructures and resources of the city but also on the lives of the people residing there was felt. It resulted to the displacement of thousands of individuals, families, and children to nearby provinces. Some families even reached Metro Manila to stay away from the crisis and try living their lives normally.

With the support of American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Center for Disaster Preparedness in partnership with Culiat Elementary School organized a psychosocial support activity last August 4. The said activity was participated by selected students and teachers affected by the war. Psychosocial support services is one of the relief that focuses on processing the emotions of the internally displaced people to help them in terms of their psychological well-being aside from the food and non-food items that they are receiving from numerous institutions.

Knowing Myself and my Fears

“Takot (ako) sa Marawi kasi may nagbarilan”, A* said. Art activities were used to introduce themselves, measure their feelings, and identify people, things, or situations that scares them. “Takot ako sa sundalo. Kasi may mga baril (sila). Baka barilin (kami,)”, H* shared based on their experiences from the war in Marawi.

Knowing my Safe Place

Safe places for the students were also identified through art activities. Despite the war, most of them still considered their home in Marawi as their safe place because it is where they grew up and found friends. Some of them also considers their evacuation center in Davao as their safe place but it is just a temporary shelter and it does not provide an enabling environment for them. Their current home here in Manila was also considered by some students as their safe place even if some adjustments are needed for them to adapt in their new environment. “(Isang) maayos na bahay (para sa mga bata at) magandang lugar na pwedeng maglaro (sila) ng malaya(at) walang takot. (Isang) friendly (na) environment.”, a teacher shared that by providing a school and home for the students where they can play and study freely constitutes a safe place for them. They also mentioned the importance of child protection from the factors hindering their safe places. “Hindi magiging magulo yung buhay nila. Or kung mayroon man, we shield them from whatever that makes them feel unsafe.”

Support from Parents and Teachers

“(Kaming mga guro ay parang) magnifying glass. Mapapansin ko (bilang guro) kung ang isang estudyante ko (ay) may trauma o hindi siya okay. Kaya may magnifying glass kasi (dapat) proactive; parang papaano mo titingnan ng mas malapitan (ang sitwasyon ng mga bata)”, a teacher mentioned that there is a need for them to undergo trainings on psychosocial support and handling the psychological needs of the students. The teachers also expressed their willingness in increasing their awareness on the culture of the students from Marawi to break the barriers and establish an enabling environment for both teachers and students.

With this, another activity focused on stress management would be conducted to the teachers and parents to continue creating a support system for the students to help them cope with the after effects of war and adapt in the new environment that they are part of.

*Name excluded for protection of identity

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