TABUGON, Philippines (November 21, 2013) — World Vision opened on Wednesday its first dedicated ‘safe space’ for 400 children affected by Typhoon Haiyan. Child-Friendly Spaces allow children to continue learning, playing, and start coming to terms with the disaster. The first Child-Friendly Space was set up in Tabugon, Philippines, a remote community of northern Cebu, where homes and schools were flattened by the 200 mph winds. Around 40 more are planned for the coming weeks and months.
“Some children have literally nothing left but the clothes on their back, and they are living in a devastated landscape which was once their home. Everything around them, including their safety network, disappeared when the typhoon hit," said Dr. Yvonne Duque, a health expert for World Vision in the Philippines. “Our immediate priority was to deliver food and water to families, and thousands of people have now received this. Now we need to urgently address children’s emotional needs, as well as ensure they’re protected. This is to provide safe areas to continue to provide some kind of normality amid this chaos.”
According to a study from Columbia University and World Vision, the benefits of Child-Friendly Spaces have proven effective in previous disasters, particularly as children’s development in their early years is known to have an impact throughout their whole life.
Dr. Duque continued: “These spaces are a safe place for children to express themselves and start coming to terms with what has happened — often by explaining their emotions through artwork. They start drawing their surroundings, where they live and this starts helping them understand why this happened. The healing process will take years, and it’s crucial to start right now.”
The Child-Friendly Spaces will be set up in communities where emergency food and water has already been handed out. Children will also be given information on how to protect themselves and their friends — and how to prepare for future disasters. Another facility nearby will provide children’s health check-ups and promote mothers’ breast feeding, ensuring women get the right nutrition throughout the emergency.
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World Vision is a Christian relief, development, and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. For more information, visit www.WorldVision.org/press or follow them on Twitter @WorldVisionNews.