Starting today, PCMN, our partner network in the Philippines, is holding three days of training for 60 volunteers to respond to the psycho-social and emotional needs of displaced children affected by the Marawi conflict.
Around 360,000 people are displaced by fighting, which broke out in May between government forces and the ISIS-inspired Maute rebel group. Children comprise a third of displaced people.
Operation Safe International is partnering PCMN in the training, having previously worked together in the 2013 Zamboanga City Siege and following Typhoon Haiyan the year after.
In the last three months, PCMN has already helped close to 1,000 displaced children in Iligan and Davao cities. Tess Torres, a volunteer from Iligan, says, “We were able to reach out to children in May for two consecutive weeks at Sta. Elena Evacuation Center. The children were happy that people like us has reached out to them. At end of the five-day intervention, they wouldn’t let us leave, clinging to us, and wanting more. We were touched by their response.”
Fe Foronda, PCMN National Director, says, “This project recognises the role of local volunteers nearest the conflict as first responders to the crisis, as they have unique resources of wisdom, compassion and community knowledge that can help children who have been through trauma recover.
“Volunteers working together from local organisations such as churches, NGOs and humanitarian organisations are the most effective way to enhance the local capacities of peace to bring healing to children of greatly affected by the war in Marawi.”
The partnership in Iligan City comprises of seven volunteer teams of five members each. The volunteers will receive support from PCMN team on the ground through regular debriefing from stress, mentoring, coaching and supervision.
In addition to psycho-social support for a planned 8,000 children, PCMN is also aiming to establish Temporary Learning Centres and youth-friendly spaces for 800 out-of-school young people and set up five Supervised Neighbourhood Play Centres for 1,000 preschoolers.
- For the volunteers being trained – that they will learn the programme quickly and be able to put it into action to make a tangible difference to children’s lives.
- That PCMN and Operation Safe will continue to respond to the needs of displaced children and their families.
- For peace and stability to return to Marawi.
We are running an Appeal in Hong Kong to raise money for this work with displaced children from Marawi – click here to read more and to give.
Get further updates from PCMN’s Facebook page.