Save the Children visits young ‘Yolanda’ survivors

MANILA Child rights and welfare advocacy group Save the Children Philippines visited Ormoc, Leyte on Thursday to assess the programs it placed for child survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda, five years after the deadly cyclone hit the Philippines.

According to the group, some 1.5 million Filipino children were affected by "Yolanda" that battered Visayas, most particularly Samar and Leyte in 2013.

From relief and recovery operations, the local chapter of the London-based organization shifted its focus to building resilience and providing psychosocial counseling for children in communities devastated by the super typhoon.

Our experience from Typhoon Haiyan taught us hard lessons that children face the greatest struggle to survive and recover in times of disasters, said Albert Muyot, Save the Children Philippines chief executive officer, who is in Leyte province to personally check on the child survivors and the organization's programs.

Since 2013, the group has assisted close to a million children in Yolanda-hit areas in the Visayas through water, sanitation and hygiene activities.

It also established "child-friendly spaces" to protect them from physical and gender-based abuses, and Temporary Learning Spaces (TLS) among others to provide opportunities for kids to resume classes.

In 2015, the group implemented the child sensitivity program that addresses inter-generational poverty among the Yolanda-affected families in Leyte.

Two years later, Save the Children Philippines started its Child Sensitive Social Protection (CSSP) initiative in Ormoc to further strengthen the government's 4Ps cash transfer programs in terms of building the resilience of Yolanda child survivors.

The CSSP program covers psychosocial healing of minors under ages 13-17.

Child survivors still cry when they recall their tragic experience losing loved ones and being displaced during typhoon Haiyan, Muyot said.

The Haiyan experience has left lifelong scars among children who survived. Healing takes time but it's possible when we help improve their lives and secure a better future for them," he added.

Typhoon Yolanda, with international name Haiyan, made landfall in Guiuan, Eastern Samar on Nov. 8, 2013 and has been tagged as one of the "strongest and disastrous" cyclones in history, killing thousands and resulting in billions of pesos in damages.

A total of 16,078,181 persons were affected by the typhoon, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Official records said 6,300 died, at least 28,688 were injured, and 1,062 others went missing. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency