Testimony from Dr. Jojie Ilagan: Quinapondan Child Trauma Camp

Adventure Station

I began to feel the shivers inside me as I started to picture in my mind how I will be able to deliver “Pete’s Adventure” with his friends, using Pilipino language to relate to 200 children and crew leaders who are mostly using the Visayan (Waray) dialect.  In the two weeks prior to our departure, I was really struggling inside me on whether to accept the task and was praying that somebody else will be assigned to be in charge. I then prayed for wisdom and the courage and creativity as I started to review the modules, storyboards, and translation of Pete’s story in Tagalog, one story, one theme, one day at a time.

Children of Quinapondan

 

The storyline and translations seemed to be simple enough to be readily understood but what kept me apprehensive during the pre-departure period was the fact that I will be facing grades 1 and 2 children who had suffered trauma during typhoon Yolanda and the “fear” of the unexpected when we start camp in Quinapondan, Eastern Samar. We then continued to pray and seek God’s wisdom for organizing ourselves, packaging of our baggages, things we need to bring as emergency aids (given that there are still no electricity, with possible tents as our resting areas, transport concerns, excess baggages, and completion of the Op SAFE materials that we need to bring with us). We continued to pray for a secured place to stay and that the generator that was bought by PCMN will be the source of our power supply. Three days prior to departure, we were informed that we will be residing in the newly rented PCMN Mission house and that electrical supply become operational once again in the municipality! Halleluliah, and Praise be to Our Lord Jesus Christ for His faithfulness in answering our prayers….

Quinapondan Children

February 4 Tuesday (Day 1 Camp)

My prayer….“Dear Lord, please help me to remember the storyline of Pete, translate the words correctly, coordinate the movement of cards and get the attention of the children and let them appreciate Pete’s adventure.” I then remembered and reflected on the theme of the day ….”You are not alone….FEAR NOT”.  Then the jitters inside left me as I personally noticed that I was actually enjoying the time with the children when I told the story of Pete. God has really brought out of me the penguin walk, the penguin grimace, the penguin’s sad face, and a lot more of other movements that captured the attention of the kids. I was so relieved and happy to see them smiling, participating, and interacting with me throughout the session. It was being noted that there was one child who was affected by Pete’s story of separation from his parents. The teacher reported that she became so sad and teary eyed as she remembered the loss of her father during a recent flashflood while he was fishing for food in the river. She was then monitored as she moved through the different stations and was referred to Ms Wendy. I also noted the crew leaders and the assistant station leader (teacher-in charge) was also listening attentively….Thank you Jesus for day 1.

Quinapondan Children

February 5 Wednesday (Day 2 Camp)

As we started Day 2 of the camp, we noted the excitement from the children’s faces as they walked the streets towards the school premises. It was even more challenging for me for I have to learn how to present 4 of Pete’s friends in the scenario. I had to project the voice of a big walrus, 3 other penguins, and then to a baby seal needs a little bit of creativity to capture the interest of the children. The day’s theme was “Everybody is important….FEAR NOT.”  I remember how the children were able to recall the name of Pete’s friends that day and describing their character. For me, it was an indicator of their attention span and interest and how they are doing in terms of their participation in the station’s activity. “Thank you dear Father God for sustaining me through the 5 batches of children for the day.”

Quinapondan Children

February 6 Thursday (Day 3 Camp)

As I was reviewing and preparing for day 3 character (Aurora) to be introduced as another friend of Pete, I faced the most difficult part when Aurora (who was a big old whale) will have to sing some lines as she swims towards Pete and his friends. My initial reaction was….oh no, now I have to sing!! Haayyy……this one is difficult as we tried to find a song that would fit Aurora’s line (in Tagalog). I prayed hard before I slept that night for God to provide me with the right notes and tune for the lines. I woke up early and reviewed the module on Aurora’s story and started to hum some notes. Lo and behold, God’s wisdom and faithfulness has allowed and provided me with the “song of Aurora” which I introduced to the children and the crew. “Sundin ang iyong puso (follow your heart)…sundin ang iyong puso (follow your heart)….sundin at maniwala ka (follow and believe), ” the song reflected the theme of the day which was “Follow and believe….FEAR NOT.”  It was easy for the children to learn the song and they were even singing it as they were moving to the other stations. This was another signal that they are having fun and learning at the same time. God’s love was already felt inside their hearts as they were singing Aurora’s song. Praise God our Lord Jesus Christ for the love and music in our hearts!

February 7 Friday (Day 4 Camp)

Day 4 was another challenge for the OpSAFE team as we were being informed that it will be the last day of the camp. For me, my thoughts were, how can I finish the 2 remaining adventure stories and other activities in 3 hours. I prayed hard for God’s guidance to keep me focused so that I will not lose on time. I was able to finish the first batch on time but during the second batch, I was being called for an emergency with one teacher who was not feeling well. I immediately notified Dr Wendy that I need to leave the station to attend to the sick teacher. I was later on informed by Dr Wendy that my assistant station leader Ms Norma (teacher assigned in the room) took over the story telling session in Waray. I was so glad and happy to receive the news as Dr Wendy was describing to me how the teacher was relating the stories to the children the same way that I had been moving around and depicting the various characters in the storyboard. We were all happy at how Ms Norma handled the session that we both agreed to do it together on the last batch. We also noted that rain started to fall and so it was decided that the raincoats will already be distributed to the children. During the last batch of children, the rain was falling hard and the wind became stronger which actually distracted (once again) the attention of the children. I saw all them turn their heads all at the same time staring at the windows and very quiet. I then told them that we will pray together (me in Tagalog and Ms Norma translating it in Waray). As we ended the prayer, the children felt better and waited for the next activity. As the children wore their individual raincoats, they were so happy and excited. We were informed by Ms Norma that this was the first time ever that these children each receive a raincoat that they can use. The children were smiling and singing as they started to exit. The joy and gladness can be observed in their smiles and how they expressed themselves to most of us especially their crew leaders.

Quinapondan Children

“Nais ko pong ipahayag ang kabutihan ng Pangainoong Hesus sa akin sa mga nangyaring himala at masasayang oras na ipinagkaloob ng ating Panginoon Hesus upang maabot, magamot, at mabigyan katuwaan ang mga bata at mga iba pang kapatiran na dumanas ng hirap hindi lamang sa pisikal kundi pati sa emosyonal na aspeto ng kanilang mga buhay matapos ang pagsalanta ng bagyong Yolanda. Ang Kanyang katapatan at mga kaloob na kakayahan ay tunay kong pinasasalamatan dahil kung sa aking sariling lakas at dunong ay hindi ko kayang gampanan ang itinakdang Niyang gampanin para sa akin na makapagkwento sa grade 1 and 2 students ng paaralan. Alam ko na mula pa sa umpisa ay kinakabahan na ako sa dahilan na ang bahaging ito [Adventure Station] ay hindi madali at hindi biro lalu na sa pagpapadaloy ng kwento ni Pete. Salamat sa ipinagkaloob ng Panginoon Hesus sa pamamagitan ng Banal na Espiritu na patuloy na gumagabay sa bawat isa sa amin at nagbigay ng lakas ng loob, karunungan, at kakayahan upang maganap ang maayos at nakatutuwang pakikipag-usap at pagkuwento sa mga bata.  Patuloy kong pinanghahawakan ang Kanyang mga pangako sa Jeremiah 29:11 at sa Filipos 4:4-9. Maibalik nawa ang papuri at luwalhati sa Kanyang dakilang Pangalan.”

 

 

 

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