OpSAFE International prepares to provide Japan child trauma relief in response to its worst weather disaster in decades. OpSAFE International is preparing for a one-year project to help the children of Japan. We would like to equip local churches in each of the communities affected to bring hugs, help and hope to children who have been through a traumatic experience.… Read more →
Step 1: Take Whatever is “The Most Important Thing in the World” to You and Lay It Aside – (for a moment). Our normal instinct is to keep on fighting because we must protect “The Most Important Thing” from the enemy. “The Most Important Thing” justifies all of our actions whether it be our children, our religion, our way of… Read more →
Since May 23rd when the crisis began in Marawi, OperationSAFE has worked together with PCMN to bring psychological first-aid to close to 1,000 children. Click the red walkers to see the number of IDPs (Internally Displaced Person) in each of the communities surrounding the war zone. Click our blue OpSAFE markers to see where and when OperationSAFE camps have been… Read more →
At 10:03 p.m. on 10 February 2017, a 6.7-magnitude earthquake with a depth of ten kilometres and an epicenter located near Surigao City, Philippines caused loss of lives and damage to properties in the Caraga region, particularly in Surigao del Norte province. In 2016 OpSAFE International in partnership with the Philippine Children’s Ministry Network held a training of trainers in… Read more →
Kumamoto got hit by another worse earthquake over the night, a 7.3 that affected a wider area than the 6.3 on Thursday night. The churches in Japan are already starting to move towards action. Organisations are gathering information and conducting assessments like CRASH Japan (crashjapan.com) which I founded and have passed on to Japanese leadership, and the Japanese Evangelical Association’s… Read more →
It has been six months since earthquakes rocked Nepal, killing 9000 and injuring over 23,000. As I journeyed up into the border region of Sindhapalchowk along narrow roads I was keenly aware of the number of landslides and how living in the steep foothills of the Himalayas leave villages vulnerable to being cut off from outside help. One group that is making a difference is CARnet Nepal (Children at Risk Nepal) who are implementing OperationSAFE child trauma camps in the remote areas worst affected by the disaster.
Most of the homes in these villages have been destroyed and people are still living in temporary shelters made of corrugated tin. In the village of Tyanthali, from which we could see the snow covered peaks of the Himalayas in Tibet, Basanta Basnet, the district leader of CARnet Nepal has been working with the community to rebuild their collapsed school. After a community meeting they were thrilled to learn that seven of the children in the town had come back to the school that is being held in tents since the quake. Getting children back to school is the best way to help them build a better future, but it can be difficult to justify when survival is at stake for the families that live here.
Another danger for the children of Tyanthali is human trafficking. Most children who are lured away from their families are sold into slavery (working as manual laborers or as prostitutes) in India. However, CARnet Nepal has discovered over the years combatting the practice that most of the children are recruited not from the Indian border region but from the more “exotic” looking mountain people.
OperationSAFE camps not only help the children themselves recover from trauma, return to school and build resilience toward future catastrophes, but also creates a bond between local child protection volunteers and the children. CARnet Nepal, working with local child protection officials, trains the OpSAFE volunteers to meet regularly with the children, report on their condition, and make it more difficult for traffickers to target those who are neglected or are not attending school.
In the first six months eleven OperationSAFE child trauma camps have been conducted helping more than a thousand children. CARnet Nepal is planning to conduct 25 more OpSAFE camps in the mountains of Nepal. Basanta called the OperationSAFE training “powerful” but as I watched volunteers who were willing to walk for hours through the mountains to learn how to help children I was struck by the heart and passion of the Nepali people.
Romi Tandukar of Ambassador Football Nepal was the camp director of OpSAFE held in July in Sindhupalchowk Nepal. She shared with us the special needs of a young boy who was unable to attend the camp because of his physical condition. “The boy seated in a chair is Pritam Tamang. He is 8 years old and beside him is his… Read more →
For adults the key to recovery from trauma after natural and man-made disasters is to talk about their experience, realize that they share common fears with others and find out that they are not alone. However this is not so easy for children. Traumatic experiences can stay with children and affect their development unless psychological first-aid is provided.
Children in Kalleri Lower Secondary School, Sindhupalchowk Nepal took part in an OperationSAFE psychological first-aid camp for children from July 26th to the 29th. Local volunteers were trained as small group leaders by OpSAFE International partner Ambassador Football Nepal. All homes in the town of Arubot were destroyed by the quakes and even while the camp was being held three aftershocks still shook the region. The Ambassador team stayed in corrugated metal temporary shelters and tents, cooked their food over a wood fire and fetched water from a distance down the hill. Each day the program was held for three hours but the children were very enthusiastic so they came early and left late.
64 children participated in the camp and 16 local volunteers were trained in psychological first-aid for children. Because these volunteers are local they will be able to follow-up with the children and be available when they are ready to share and process more the difficult experience they went through during the disaster. But for now the children and adults of Kalleri school know that they are not alone.