January 17, 2014
Amidst the devastation that Typhoon Haiyan wrought in November 2013, the people of Cebu and neighboring islands in the Philippines are starting to pick up the pieces of their lives. UUSC is working with the Trauma Resource Institute (TRI), a longtime partner, to ensure that UUSC’s grassroots partners in the Philippines have essential skills to help people recover from the mental, emotional, and physiological trauma of the disaster.
On the ground in Cebu City, TRI is currently halfway through a training of trainers organized by UUSC that is introducing TRI’s Community Resiliency Model, a set of body-based skills that help heal trauma. The training is not only teaching the skills but also giving participants the tools to train others in the skills. “The training is going really, really well! Participants are reporting that they are picking up lots of useful skills that they will be able to use with survivors,” reports Wendy Flick, acting manager of UUSC’s Rights in Humanitarian Crises Program, who just received an update from the field.
TRI is training two groups of 20 people each: a group of local people from Cebu Island and a group of people from typhoon-affected areas throughout the Philippines. Participants include social workers; frontline aid workers; government workers from the Department of Social Welfare and Development; and workers from Islamic Relief Worldwide, Child Fund, and Help Age, nonprofits that work with a range of people who are often marginalized in relief work. On Saturday, both trainee groups will attend a full-day session focused on interventions specifically designed for children experiencing trauma.
TRI conducted a baseline survey with participants at beginning of the training and will conduct a survey at end to help measure the impact of training and assess needs for follow-up. Furthermore, UUSC is working with a group of researchers from Loma Linda University in California to assess impact; the researchers are in attendance and will be following up to track not only how the work is helping the trainees but also how it affects the beneficiaries of the trauma resiliency work those trainees will bring out into the field.
Rainera Lucero, UUSC’s consultant on the ground in the Philippines, is coordinating the TRI training as well as meeting with participating organizations during free time. Together, they are exploring various recovery strategies in discussions that will help formulate UUSC’s response strategy in the Philippines moving forward. For example, drawing on work that UUSC has done in Haiti, UUSC is currently looking at the best ways to work with partners like the Pagtambayayong Foundation to support sustainable agriculture and livelihoods for survivors in Cebu.