Education Department Awards Balay for its Psychosocial and Education-in-Emergency Activities for Typhoon Pablo Survivors
The Department of Education (DepEd) has awarded Balay a certificate of recognition for its psychosocial response and risk reduction activities for school children who have survived the destruction brought about by Typhoon Pablo ('Bopha") last December 2012. In a ceremony held at the Bulwagan ng Karunungan (Hall of Knowledge) of the Department on July 19, 2013, Education Secretary Armin Luistro expressed appreciation to Balay and to their other partners for "helping communities rebuild schools and equip children" so they can resume their normal lives and reduce their vulnerabilities from disastrous events in the future.
Balay mounted its disaster response project in the typhoon-ravaged areas in Monkayo in Compostla Valley and in Trento, Agusan del Sur at the start of the year in collaboration with the Education Cluster, headed by the DepEd, and Unicef with the assistance from AusAid and the Japanese Government. The Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) also provided support. It entails, among others, the construction of 18 temporary school houses to serve as 'safe space for learning of around 1,000 learners, the provision of psychosocial support for distressed children and adults, the training of teachers and Barangay Councils on disaster risk reduction (DRR), and the integration of DRR and concepts and preparedness practices into the regular lesson plans of teachers.
Over the last six months, Balay's disaster response team has provided psychosocial support to more than 6,500 children in ten disaster-stricken communities and seventeen schools in its project sites. Of this number, 51% are boys and 49% are girls. Adults who benefitted from the activities count to more than 1,130, some of whom are connected with the Barangay Council as community health and nutrition workers, disaster response volunteers, and members of the Parents-Teachers Association. Some of those adult partners later on participated in the construction of safe learning spaces (SLS) and volunteered to repair the damaged portions of the schools and clear waterways that were blocked by debris. Others lend a hand in preparing for the food for the feeding program of the schools and the social welfare department.
A total of 117 teachers from Trento and Monkayo also participated in an inter-active sharing-and-learning activity about Education-in-Emergency and DRR organized by Balay. The participants learned about basic concepts on disaster, including ideas about hazards, capacities and vulnerabilities. Fundamental concepts and framework on Education in Emergency were introduced. The resource persons also discussed the psychosocial impact of disaster on children and adults and workshops on basic counseling skills, hazard mapping, preparedness planning were done. The outputs of the workshops were a school-community hazard map and a risk-sensitive inputs to the school improvement plans of the partners schools.
Upon their return to their respective communities, the teachers initiated a parents-teachers assembly to bring together members of the Barangay Council and villagers to discuss DRR issues for the children. They presented their action plans to the community and asked for closer school-barangay interface to reduce the risk of disaster on the children.
Before the end of July, the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils (DRRMC) in 15 barangays covered by the Balay project would have been revitalized. They will include as members the more than 100 barangay officials and teachers who participated in the on-going DRR seminar to promote a school-community collaborative continuum to promote good governance and accountability in managing hazards and other security risks to the children and other vulnerable population.