DAVAO ORIENTAL, Jan. 4, 2013—Residents of Compostela Valley, New Bataan and other areas affected by the recent super storm ‘Pablo’ were given a new way to start afresh for 2013 with a series of trainings on emotional first aid, especially for those severely traumatized by the disaster.
Christmas, saddest time
Dr. Leo Deux Fils Dela Cruz, a clinical psychologist who headed the activities, explained the timing of the trainings, “Christmas day usually becomes the saddest time of the year among survivors of disasters and calamities.”
From December 24, 2012 to January 1, 2013, some 601 locals from Moncayo, Compostela Valley, Baganga, Baculin, New Bataan, Licud, Andap and Davao city participated in a series of emotional first aid (EFA) trainings, that not only debriefed or ‘processed’ their personal experience of ‘Pablo’, but enabled them to do the same to other victims.
Most of the attendees lost homes during the heavy rains and winds of ‘Pablo’, while several also lost loved ones and family members.
Dr. Dela Cruz, who is also a Couples for Christ (CFC) leader from Antipolo City, coordinated with the local CFC and its Family Ministries, Handmaids of the Lord, Servants of the Lord, Singles for Christ and Youth for Christ for the trainings, many of which were held in parishes.
Processing the experience
Since the seminars, three newly-trained groups have since debriefed direct victims of ‘Pablo’ in Moncayo, New Bataan and Davao City.
After giving EFA to other victims, these groups also underwent a process called “Debriefing the Debriefers” to help them, in a sense, process their own experience of processing others.
These were done at the St. Ignatius de Loyola Parish in Moncayo last December 27; at a CFC member’s home in New Bataan last December 31; and in a coffee shop in Davao City last January 1.
Emotional first aid coordinators
Several CFC members have stepped up to become EFA coordinators, who can be contacted by the public for debriefing sessions or trainings, especially in the light of the great number devastated by the loss of loved ones, property and livelihood.
Emotional first aid consists of asking a victim a series of questions that are meant to draw out powerful personal insights and learnings, forging the stage for recovery and growth after the trauma.
The death toll for ‘Pablo’ may reach 1,500, according to several estimates.
Over-all, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council estimates ‘Pablo’ damage to reach at least P36 billion — more than the combined devastation of tropical storms ‘Pedring’ and ‘Sendong’. [Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz]