Monday, October 12, 2009
I volunteered as counselor at the Ultra Evacuation Center last week. I was with twenty four fieldwork students of the College. We were assigned to look after the 549 children ages 5-12. Unfortunately, there was no electricity. We were supposed to show a short documentary film about typhoon/ disaster. So, the students ended up as impromptu performers/actors depicting a story of a family whose main income is logging. A news breakthrough about an impending typhoon. The family was caught unprepared and they were seen climbing up their house and shouting for help. At this point, the children were shouting at the top of their voices as if they were really experiencing the same event at that moment. I thought role play is really a powerful tool in "debriefing" the children. The play ended up with the family at the evacuation center receiving relief goods and psychosocial help. I was at one corner attending to a sleepy five year old boy among other children sitting on the bench. The next day, the site received donations of toys from UNICEF. So we put the children in different tents with one box each of toys. They were so happy playing, as if there was no trace of trauma whatever. Boys in our camp were seen playing with plastic cookwares, dolls, etc. Children tend to group themselves based on the toys of interest. After a two hour play, everything seemed in chaos but deep in my heart I knew it was a very fulfilling experience because I was enervated by the enthusiasm and vitality of the children.