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CRASH OperationSAFE camp Philippines

Testimony of a Trainer from OperationSAFE

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14 March 2014

CRASH (Christian Relief, Assistance, Support and Hope) is a disaster relief organization based in Tokyo, and a member of the Micah Network.

OperationSAFE is a ministry of CRASH for children suffering trauma in post-disaster contexts. Below, a trainer from an OperationSAFE camp held in the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan gives her testimony of the experience. “Pete’s Adventure”, told over four days, brings a fun and accessible approach to recovering from trauma for children.

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Testimony from Dr Jojie Ilagan: Quinapondan Child Trauma Camp

I began to feel the shivers inside me as I started to picture in my mind how I will be able to deliver “Pete’s Adventure” with his friends, using Philipino language to relate to 200 children and crew leaders who are mostly using the Visayan (Waray) dialect.  In the two weeks prior to our departure, I was really struggling inside me on whether to accept the task and was praying that somebody else will be assigned to be in charge. I then prayed for wisdom and the courage and creativity as I started to review the modules, storyboards, and translation of Pete’s story in Tagalog, one story, one theme, one day at a time.

February 4 Tuesday (Day 1 Camp)

My prayer….“Dear Lord, please help me to remember the storyline of Pete, translate the words correctly, coordinate the movement of cards and get the attention of the children and let them appreciate Pete’s adventure.” I then remembered and reflected on the theme of the day ….”You are not alone….FEAR NOT”.  Then the jitters inside left me as I personally noticed that I was actually enjoying the time with the children when I told the story of Pete. God has really brought out of me the penguin walk, the penguin grimace, the penguin’s sad face, and a lot more of other movements that captured the attention of the kids. I was so relieved and happy to see them smiling, participating, and interacting with me throughout the session. It was being noted that there was one child who was affected by Pete’s story of separation from his parents. The teacher reported that she became so sad and teary eyed as she remembered the loss of her father during a recent flashflood while he was fishing for food in the river. She was then monitored as she moved through the different stations and was referred to Ms Wendy. I also noted the crew leaders and the assistant station leader (teacher-in charge) was also listening attentively….Thank you Jesus for day 1.

February 5 Wednesday (Day 2 Camp)

As we started Day 2 of the camp, we noted the excitement from the children’s faces as they walked the streets towards the school premises. It was even more challenging for me for I have to learn how to present 4 of Pete’s friends in the scenario. I had to project the voice of a big walrus, 3 other penguins, and then to a baby seal needs a little bit of creativity to capture the interest of the children. The day’s theme was “Everybody is important….FEAR NOT.”  I remember how the children were able to recall the name of Pete’s friends that day and describing their character. For me, it was an indicator of their attention span and interest and how they are doing in terms of their participation in the station’s activity. “Thank you dear Father God for sustaining me through the 5 batches of children for the day.”

February 6 Thursday (Day 3 Camp)

As I was reviewing and preparing for day 3 character (Aurora) to be introduced as another friend of Pete, I faced the most difficult part when Aurora (who was a big old whale) will have to sing some lines as she swims towards Pete and his friends. My initial reaction was….oh no, now I have to sing!! Haayyy……this one is difficult as we tried to find a song that would fit Aurora’s line (in Tagalog). I prayed hard before I slept that night for God to provide me with the right notes and tune for the lines. I woke up early and reviewed the module on Aurora’s story and started to hum some notes. Lo and behold, God’s wisdom and faithfulness has allowed and provided me with the “song of Aurora” which I introduced to the children and the crew. “Sundin ang iyong puso (follow your heart)…sundin ang iyong puso (follow your heart)….sundin at maniwala ka (follow and believe),” the song reflected the theme of the day which was “Follow and believe….FEAR NOT.”  It was easy for the children to learn the song and they were even singing it as they were moving to the other stations. This was another signal that they are having fun and learning at the same time. God’s love was already felt inside their hearts as they were singing Aurora’s song. Praise God our Lord Jesus Christ for the love and music in our hearts!

February 7 Friday (Day 4 Camp)

Day 4 was another challenge for the OpSAFE team as we were being informed that it will be the last day of the camp. For me, my thoughts were, how can I finish the 2 remaining adventure stories and other activities in 3 hours. I prayed hard for God’s guidance to keep me focused so that I will not lose on time…

 We also noted that rain started to fall and so it was decided that the raincoats will already be distributed to the children. During the last batch of children, the rain was falling hard and the wind became stronger which actually distracted (once again) the attention of the children. I saw all them turn their heads all at the same time staring at the windows and very quiet. I then told them that we will pray together (me in Tagalog and Ms Norma translating it in Waray). As we ended the prayer, the children felt better and waited for the next activity. As the children wore their individual raincoats, they were so happy and excited. We were informed by Ms Norma that this was the first time ever that these children each receive a raincoat that they can use. The children were smiling and singing as they started to exit. The joy and gladness can be observed in their smiles and how they expressed themselves to most of us especially their crew leaders.

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This testimony was originally published on the CRASH website here.