Glowing hot lava flows make their way across the island and engulf countless houses, earthquakes shake the region again and again and a carpet of ash has spread on the streets. The Cumbre Vieja volcano on the Canary island of La Palma is still not at rest after its first eruption more than three weeks ago. For the residents, this is hard to deal with. They have lost everything and an end to the disaster is not in sight. On October 9, an Emergency Pedagogy Team traveled to La Palma to provide emergency and trauma pedagogy support to those on the ground.
"The fire, lava and earthquakes are bad enough in themselves, but add to that the soundscape that accompanies it all. A deep, persistent rumble from inside the volcano, which is very frightening." This is how Emergency Pedagogue Lukas Mall describes his impressions. He heads the Emergency Pedagogy Office in Karlsruhe and traveled to the island to support the eight-member Spanish team. Together they are working with children, young people and adults to come to terms with the traumatic experiences and the current situation. "In the first days, Emergency Pedagogical Trainings were held for teachers*, therapists*, psychologists* and social workers*. They are given a theoretical introduction to how trauma occurs, what the stages are and what effects it can have. In addition, there are practical methods and exercises for overcoming trauma, which the people on site can also use after our team has left," explains Lukas Mall.
In addition, the team worked in Llanos de Aridane - the most severely affected area - with evacuated children and their families, whose houses were buried under the lava. In a playful way, children learn how to cope with loss, fear and uncertainty. The stressful experiences can be processed and expressed through painting, singing or movement games. Through these and many other Emergency Pedagogical methods, the self-healing powers are stimulated and trauma sequelae can be mitigated or completely prevented. Even if they appear to be doing well from a purely external perspective, the islanders have been severely affected mentally by what they have experienced and need support.
"How long the people of La Palma will continue to be exposed to the danger from the unpredictable volcano is not certain. They will probably have to hold out for the next few days or even weeks and watch as the lava destroys their island and thus further livelihoods," says Lukas Mall . This makes the work of the Emergency Pedagogues all the more important, as they are able to take the first step towards healing the psychological wounds.
(by Bonnie Berendes)
Friends of Waldorf Education
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