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by Lanelyn Carillo, Communications, WV Philippines
“Ang batis tulad ng batis ... payapa ng ibon…” (A river is like a river…. peaceful as a bird…)
Five year-old Kent Matthew sings his own rendition of the song with the lyrics, "Pag-ibig tulad ng batis... payapa tulad ng dagat." (Love is like a rive...peaceful as the sea) Kent dances and sings the tune right but tries to remember the exact lyrics of the song while his friends cheer him on. His friends chuckle even more as Kent persists shaking his hips, rolling his eyes and head, trying to complete the song he just learned during the World Vision’s Child Friendly Space (CFS).
Kent is one of the hundreds of children who have been living in Luinab Elementary School in Hinaplanon, Iligan City for two weeks now. The school has become a temporary home to more than 300 flood-affected families. Situated near the river, Hinaplanon was one of the hardest-hit villages whenTyphoon Sendong (local name Washi) wreaked havok in Iligan. Strong water current coupled with huge logs destroyed rows of houses and toppled vehicles a few miles away. Many families ran to safety on the night of December 17, saving their lives and their loved ones by climbing tall trees and roofs.
Kent (in blue) can't help but share his smile after participating in World Vision's Child Friendly Space in one of the evacuation centers in hard-hit Iligan.
Displaced by the flood, many of the families live uncomfortably in the evacuation centers, with no electricity and clean water for drinking and washing. Kent’s family, on the other hand, lives in a small tent by the school yard because there is not enough space for them in the 20-classroom building. Each classroom, about 40-square meters, would normally occupy about 18 to 30 people along with their boxes of salvaged clothes and sacks of relief goods with them.
Kent recounts how their house was swept away by the flood and how they ran towards higher ground.
“Listening to them makes children feel relieved of the sad emotions or shock caused by a bad episode in their life, in this case a big flood,” Yhen Veso, World Vision CFS facilitator says.
Yhen further explains that the CFS is World Vision’s way of helping affected children by providing a venue for them to express their thoughts and feelings. “CFS makes children feel safe and happy through drawings, songs, dances and helps them cope with their condition.”
During a CFS session, children are given colorful bags containing a coloring book, a set of pencil and papers, crayons and a bubble toy. Children are grouped according to their age and given activities appropriate for their age level.
CFS facilitators who are usually volunteers from the community, take time off to teach children songs, dances and help the children in drawing and coloring. A CFS facilitator also listens to children as they explain their drawings and tell stories of survival.
To date, World Vision’s Child Friendly Space has served more than 500 children in the areas of Hinaplanon and San Roque in Iligan City. World Vision aims to set up more CFS in other areas in the next days to reach more affected children.
For more inspiring stories of these young survivors, click here.
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