My House Looks Like a Skeleton Now


World Vision launches its first Child-Friendly Space in the Philippines to help children regain some sense of normalcy after Typhoon Haiyan.

Children stand among the ruins of their classrooms after Typhoon Haiyan’s high winds tore the roof off much of Somosa Elementary School, scattering books and furniture and exposing everything inside to pounding rain. 

Emmanuel Ngojo, 8, shows his uncle a drawing he made during a coloring activity with friends in the rural town of Tabogon in northern Cebu Island, Philippines.

“My house looks like a skeleton now,” Emmanuel says.

His picture shows the house as it looked before Typhoon Haiyan, whole and surrounded by tall trees, and as it looked afterward, with walls and roof gone and only a bare frame standing.

Emmanuel and about 400 other children enjoyed a day of games, activities, and learning, finding relief from the stress and insecurity that has overcome their lives since the storm tore through.

World Vision launched its first Child-Friendly Space to help children regain some sense of normalcy and give their parents a much needed break to find work or rebuild their homes.

The enclosed, bright white tents stand on the grounds of the roofless and tattered Somosa Elementary School, where many of the children attended classes. Some of their teachers welcomed them to the new space, offering a familiar face.

“It’s so they can go back to school and succeed,” says Arlo Ramos, a child health and nutrition specialist who helped establish the spaces in Tabugon. “We trained their own teachers in the Child-Friendly Space module and worked alongside them. These teachers will be able to carry on the work to help the children recover.”

Another 110 younger children enjoyed hours of playtime while their mothers together reveled in the time of respite from the chaotic aftermath of the storm.

“This is great for their moms as well as the children,” says World Vision child protection specialist Patrick Sooma. “They have a chance to relax and relate to each other while the children are playing with toys and having fun.”

“Parents say they worry that their kids are not safe playing at home where there’s debris and construction going on,” Patrick says. “This gives them a chance to get some work done and know the children are safe.”

While community volunteers or teachers help run the daily activities at the Child-Friendly Space, World Vision specialists track children’s development, community awareness of children’s issues, quality of activities in the space, and each child’s overall well-being.

“When we came into the community a few days after the storm, children were begging for food and money on the roadway. Now you don’t see that,” Arlo says. “World Vision distributed food, and that helped to lift the burden from the children of helping their parents find food. Now we’re helping them return to learning."

By Kathryn Reid and Chris Huber

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