… and thirds, fourths and fifths
We all have our own trauma, from childhood to adulthood. Each experience has left us a little more scarred, a little more scared, and at times, almost not knowing how to move, how to live again.
Imagine what it was for any survivor of a huge calamity? After the food, shelter, and clothing, does one really believe they can all just pick up where they left off and carry on with their lives? Can you imagine having to rebuild houses, clean up the debris, and re-imagine a life that was washed away?
From the comforts of our homes, virtually experiencing the horror of it from FB posts, then also forgetting about it with the last of the photos that have been circulated. Do we know what happened to them? Do we have an idea how they have fared so far?
In February and in May, I have experienced it first-hand. Months may have passed, but the trees had more life in them than the homes that were devastated by the typhoon Yolanda, you can see the smiles were there, but a quick survey of the debris that no hands were able to pick up, you will get a sense not everything is how it was, how it could be again.
Just in this one summer, I have been on planes much more than I have ever been in the last 43 years of my life. I’ve been to Maguindanao; Saranggani; Homonhon Eastern Samar; and Palo, Leyte to bring trauma relief to survivors of Yolanda and people rebuilding the future in war devastated Mindanao. Each time I left those places I am humbled and blessed by each encounter. I would come home to my children, the comforts of Manila life, and they would be busy trying to rebuild their lives that a giant pause button put on hold because it was just too much, the loss, the damage to minds, hearts, and bodies. How can they even get up the next day, to put one foot in front of the other? Understandably, it is overwhelming when you have been through what they have been through.
Then I realized trauma is not only from emergencies and natural calamities, it is also those we experience in our urban lives that bring loss, damage to our minds, hearts, and bodies, now or sometime in the past that we still carry up to today. What more for those who live in such conditions that would, in logic, follow a trajectory that leads only to more tragedies?
We do not have to look too far, go outside, look out your car window.
School-aged children huddling together along busy street corners, oblivious to traffic while lost in the camaraderie of sniffing rugby; those nameless, faceless women and children in headlines who are battered, molested, and enduring various forms of neglect and abuse, sadly more are still hidden from view; and those who are just forgotten or given up on. They are the stuff indie films try tirelessly for us to see. There are those who courageously take up the cudgels to imagine a different life for them. NGOs, foundations, church groups, and private citizens, who are moved to make that difference happen.
When you have lost so much trust, how can you even begin to imagine that the future can be any different?
For two days almost 10 months ago, 100 or so volunteers were gathered to learn or rather be blown away by the simplicity in the effectiveness and the authenticity of the trauma relief methodology based on Waldorf curriculum as facilitated by Freunde der Erziehungskunst Rudolf Steiners E.V; a mouthful I know, so Freunde they became to us. They taught us that healing comes when you can feel safe again and they shared how it can be so. We moved, we did art, we laughed, we “horsed” around, in the end we understood what is possible again. Those two days, changed the lives of 10 people (some of my closest friends) almost instantaneously and for good.
Obviously, this is not the work of one person. This is a work that is weaved through all of us by whatever moves us to do. Freunde does this work as volunteers in Japan, Haiti, Indonesia, Gaza, Iraq, Philippines, and others; their only repayment is that we share this to more, then do the work because they cannot possibly do it alone.
Even if this is so far from our reality now, can we imagine how it could change our lives and the lives we can reach? From individuals to companies who are already doing social responsibility work, can you imagine the connections of giving relief and empowering people to live again?
This is not merely teaching someone to fish, this is helping him find the WILL to take his net and get on that boat.
This is not just for disasters in some edge-of-the-world island, this work is even for that child at the street corner. This is for whatever moves you to empower someone who has been scarred by trauma. Help us reach more who are willing to do the work. Please share our posts, our posters, and share your experiences.
This year, a few weeks shy of Typhoon Yolanda’s anniversary, you can join us as we do this work.
EMERGENCY PEDAGOGY: A First Aid Response to Trauma
October 3, 1-6pm College of Education, UP Diliman
October 4-5, 9am to 5pm College of Fine Arts, UP Diliman
For more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/302318703310164/