Child-Friendly Spaces open in Philippines’ typhoon-ravaged communities

World Vision is setting up about 40 Child-Friendly Spaces in order to provide a safe place for children recovering from Typhoon Haiyan to resume learning, play, and process the disaster’s effects.

By Kristy J. O’Hara, World Vision U.S., and staff reports
Published November 25, 2013 at 06:30pm PST

As recovery from Typhoon Haiyan continues in the Philippines, World Vision has opened its first Child-Friendly Space for 400 children affected by the storm.

Around 40 more spaces are planned for the coming weeks and months.

A safe place for child survivors

Children are especially vulnerable to violence, forced labor, and trafficking in the wake of disasters. Child-Friendly Spaces provide a safe place for children to learn, play, and process the disaster’s effects.

Children also are taught how to protect themselves and their friends — and how to prepare for future disasters.

The first Child-Friendly Space was set up in Tabogon, Philippines, a remote community of northern Cebu, where homes and schools were flattened by the 200-mph winds.

The Child-Friendly Spaces will be set up in communities where emergency food and water has already been handed out.

“Now we need to urgently address children’s emotional needs, as well as ensure they’re protected,” says Yvonne Duque, a health expert for World Vision in the Philippines.

“These Child-Friendly Spaces are a safe place [for children] to express themselves and start coming to terms with what has happened — often by explaining their emotions through artwork. They start drawing their surroundings, where they live, and this starts helping them understand why this happened.”

According to a study from Columbia University and World Vision, Child-Friendly Spaces have proven effective in previous disasters, particularly as children’s development in their early years is known to have an impact throughout their whole life.

Says Duque, “The healing process will take years, and it’s crucial to start right now.”

How you can help

Pray for vulnerable children in the Philippines and in other war and disaster zones. Pray for resources to keep these children safe and help them heal from the trauma.

Make a one-time donation to help create Child-Friendly Spaces. These spaces provide a safe environment for children to learn, play, and emotionally recover from traumatic events.