Return after Tacloban
Report by Charisse Dumlao
Three days after typhoon Haiyan hit Tacloban I finally got news from my brother with only these words, “The whole family survived. We need food, water, medicine, and shelter“. It took another three days until I heard from them again, and from then on I knew I had to be strong for them. It was difficult to witness all this agony from Switzerland. All the effort I put forth in trying to help my family and friends in every way I could, just didn’t feel like enough!
Almost a year later in September 2014, the Friends of Waldorf Education asked me if I wanted to help. It was an offer I could have never turn down.
In the seminars we did in Roxas and Manila, many participants personally thanked me for being there and asked me to extend the enormous gratitude they feel towards the Friends of Waldorf Education. They were very thankful to be presented with a different approach to trauma. They can use these methods to help children and the social workers themselves. It is their job to be present in disaster areas, and they often felt like the stress and trauma they experience themselves had never been addressed. They told us, that they want and plan to adopt and apply all the methods they learned in their daily work.
Tacloban was a bitter-sweet experience. It was bitter to see that Tacloban was no longer the city that I had once known. Houses haven’t been repaired yet, many are still living in tents and many are still living with little or no future perspective at all.
The experience was made sweet by the ongoing therapeutic work done by the local team of pedagogues running the Child Friendly Space. The local team had expressed their gratitude for the help from the Friends of Waldorf Education. It is not just helping the children get over their trauma, but it also helps the workers themselves, who are victims of the typhoon too. In a limited time, it was possible for them to get to know Waldorf education, which is the basis of the emergency pedagogy and inspires and enriches their daily work.
It is sweet to see the children, who in spite of the destruction around them, are able to laugh again. The music, rhythms and different activities offered by the Child Friendly Space make this possible. The resilience of these children is incredible. Although most of them still cannot talk openly about their experiences, one can observe their gratitude for the help and support they receive. They are not just given food here, but also a place where they can feel safe, where they can dream and just be children again.
Charisse Dumlao—A pianist from Tacloban, she lives and works in Switzerland. Charisse Dumlao supported the emergency pedagogy team at this mission as assistant and musician.