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MINDANAO, Philippines -- Global child-rights organisation Plan International has teamed up with the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) to provide emotional support sessions to children affected by Typhoon Sendong, which has killed 1,470 and left 1,074 unaccounted for.
As thousands of children are reeling from stress caused by the deadly storm, which also left 430,500 homeless, the PNA has mobilised dozens of nurses at evacuation centres in Mindanao, where Plan Philippines is working with local authorities to support children and their parents.
"I was embarrassed initially to see so many foreigners and international organisations like Plan coming in to help affected people in Mindanao,” PNA Chairman Neil Martin said.
“It is the first collaboration of PNA with an international organisation on children and psychosocial initiatives,” Martin said.
Typhoon Sendong, known as Washi internationally, caused heavy rains and flash floods on December 16 in Mindanao, affecting 624,600 people. The strong current in the swollen river carried timber from illegal logging sites downstream, damaging houses along the bank.
Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities on the north coast of Mindanao were the most severely hit, with more than half of the currently displaced taking shelter in these two cities, where Plan and the PNA are working with affected children.
"Every time it rains I'm afraid that it's happening all over again, “ said Jerome, an 11-year-old boy whose house on the riverbank was washed away by the 5-metre water in Cagayan de Oro. “It feels like a nightmare,” said Jerome who survived the strong current by clinging on to a log for hours.
Jerome is among thousands of stressed children Plan and PNA are looking to help under this collaboration.
Volunteer nurses, working and living in various cities in Mindanao, travel to evacuation camps in villages or cities to play and work with children, having them sing or draw pictures to express their feelings. The nurses will assess significant cues and may make referral to the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services cluster for further treatment, Martin said.
Under this collaboration, Plan provides free transportation and meals for the volunteer nurses for the psychosocial support sessions. The PNA will also recruit and train laypeople on how to provide emotional support, also known as psychosocial support, to flood-affected children, in order to increase the number of children being assisted. children.
As of January 27, Plan has given psychosocial help to some 715 children. It is expecting to reach an additional 1,000 children and 160 adults as it embarks on future psychosocial sessions with the help of 75 nurse volunteers from Xavier University and Mindanao State University.
Plan’s response in Mindanao has now focused on ensuring that all school-aged children are back to school. The organisation has already distributed back-to-school packs to about 5,000 school children in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro. Hygiene kits have also reached some 2,042 children and non-food items, including tents, have been given to some 3,970 families.
“Plan always looks for partners to work with during an emergency response. Collaborating with a trusted organisation like the Philippine Nurses Association is a real boost to our work,” said Baltz Tribunalo, programme adviser for disaster risk management of Plan Philippines.
To donate to Plan's work on this disaster, please follow this link.
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