Child-friendly spaces support displaced children in North Cotabato

16 June 2020

Eight-year-old Samantha is happy to have the opportunity to play and meet new friends again, thanks to Plan International’s child-friendly space installed in her evacuation camp in Tulunan, North Cotabato, where she has lived since last October following a series of earthquakes.

“I am grateful that Plan International gave us this space, so we can play and have fun with other children. It is good that we can play and know that I am not the only one who is scared of earthquakes,” Samantha says.

Samantha’s family is one of 268 families in their barangay whose lives were disrupted by the earthquakes. More than 45,000 people were displaced from their homes and had to take shelter in the evacuation camps set up by the government.

Volunteers provide support

When Plan International started working in the camp, Samantha’s 46-year-old mother, Arlene, immediately signed up as a volunteer at the child-friendly space, which is funded by the START Network Fund and Masonic Charitable Foundation.

During a training workshop, the volunteers were taught how to perform psychosocial support sessions through play and structured activities that can help children cope with the emotional stress caused by earthquakes, as well as learning valuable life skills.

“I am thankful to Plan International because they were there to help us cope. What happened to us was tragic. They provided us with psychosocial support training and water kits that helped us restore our way of living,” Arlene says.

Children recover from their experiences

Before the earthquake destroyed their home, Arlene was the Barangay Record Keeper and her husband worked at a banana plantation. They lived happily together with their 2 children.

But now Arlene says that being a child-friendly space volunteer is equally fulfilling. “I help conduct the play sessions and feel happy to see the children developing their social skills through the various activities we can offer them.”

Plan International is also helping children to return to school by replacing damaged or lost school supplies and has distributed 2500 water kits and 675 hygiene kits to affected families in Tulunan.

Emergencies, Child protection in emergencies