Providing child protection in emergencies training in Mindanao
“Mental health and psychosocial support is a unique service that an agency can provide to a disaster-affected community,” says community leader Mary Ann from Mindanao region in the Philippines.
Mary Ann has served on her village’s child protection council for six years, so when a magnitude 6.6 earthquake rocked her community in North Cotabato province in October 2019, she knew she needed to do something to help ensure the welfare of affected children.
Mary Ann joined 35 other participants in a training workshop for child protection committee members facilitated by Plan International and its implementing partner, Balay Mindanaw. The training taught Mary Ann how to identify the various child protection needs during emergency situations as well as understanding the council’s role in protecting children.
As a result of the training, funded by the Start Network, the council created a plan of action which included the establishment of child-friendly spaces and referral systems for children in need.
“Child-friendly spaces lower the risk of children engaging in harmful behaviour as they are preoccupied with play and structured activities,” Mary Ann says.
Expressing her gratitude for the training, Mary Ann explains how it gave the council ideas on how to provide better services for children before, during and after a disaster occurs. “If it wasn’t for Plan International, the ability to destress would not be possible – not only for the children but also for the adults who look after them.”