FOUR YEARS after the devastation brought about by typhoon Pablo visited Barangay Cabinuangan in New Bataan, Compostela Valley, the barangay has seen much improvement — homes have been repaired, crops replanted, the boulders and debris from landslides have been removed, and major infrastructure made operational. Still, the shadow of typhoon Pablo hangs over the barangay.
Even though the local and national government, and several non-governmental organizations have addressed the people’s immediate relief and daily needs, the scars of the disaster are still felt due to the limited psychological and emotional support available to residents. Up to this day, children and their parents are still showing signs of anxiety, stress, and panic during brief bouts of rain thanks to the traumatic memories of typhoon Pablo. Children have been reported to still wake up from nightmares about the typhoon.
In response to the limited psychosocial and emotional resources available not just to Barangay Cabinuangan but to the hundreds of towns in the country that are exposed to natural disasters every year, the MLAC Institute for Psychosocial Services, Inc., the TELUS International Philippines Community Board, and Hijo Resources Corp. came together to develop a guide that can be used by trauma workers to assist them in helping others on the road to recovery.
The trauma and recovery primer, called Presence: A Primer on Trauma and Recovery for the Use of Trauma Workers, was launched in Barangay Cabinuangan in December.
The book can be used to aid people who encounter individuals or groups who have gone through traumatic experiences — not limited to disasters like typhoons but also physical abuse, prostitution, loss of loved ones, and other devastating scenarios. Ideally, one trauma worker can accommodate up to 20 patients in one session, so a primer such as this can go a long way towards empowering barangays and local governments in terms of trauma stewardship and emphasizing the importance of Psychological First Aid.
After the book launch, a trauma healing seminar session was conducted to trauma workers including teachers from nine different schools in New Bataan, the New Bataan Police Force, local government unit staff, day care workers, social welfare office workers, and representatives from the Philippine Army 1st Battalion 66th Infantry and Battalion 10th Infantry Division. They were taught the framework of trauma recovery management and an experience sharing activity was conducted to help them appreciate the importance of compassionate understanding for both the survivor and the helper.
TIP and MLAC will make copies of the book available around the country and there are plans for creating versions of the book in different local dialects.