|© UNICEF Video|
|Participants of a psychological support programme in Quezon have fun with hand puppets.|
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By Jay Orense and Mario Díaz
QUEZON, Philippines, 25 April 2005 – While the world’s attention has been focused on the Indian Ocean tsunami, tens of thousands in the Philippines have been dealing with the aftermath of another natural disaster that has gone largely unnoticed. In December 2004 three typhoons hit the South Eastern province of Quezon, killing more than 2,000 people, destroying homes, schools and injuring thousands more.
Today, as the people of Quezon rebuild their lives, UNICEF is assisting the children, women and men in the devastated areas. Working alongside local agencies such as the Southern Tagalog People Response Centre and the Southern Tagalog Kanlungan Development Centre, UNICEF is providing affected families with food and vitamin packs, as well as tools and materials to help them rebuild their homes.
In the town of Real, a remote community populated mostly by Dumagats, a forest-dwelling indigenous group, over 250 people died and more are still missing. “Our house was swept away – everything, including our clothes and our livelihood,” said Elsa De La Cruz, a Dumagat survivor.
Children were especially hard hit by the typhoons and are still haunted by their experiences. “The morning after, I saw corpses at the town centre. Some had blood on their nostrils, others had bloated stomachs. There were many more dead children wrapped in sacks,” said Josephine, a child survivor.
In response to the psychosocial needs of the affected children, UNICEF provided support to the Southern Tagalog Kanlungan Development Centre. The centre started a psychological rehabilitation programme for children, in which participants (some as young as four years old) could talk about their feelings and express themselves through creative arts.
“After the floods, just a slight noise would scare me to death. When the teachers came, my fear slowly subsided. The activities took my mind away from the tragedy. Now the horror I felt is gone,” said Dumagat participant Beverly Adornado.
While the physical and psychological scars left by the typhoons will remain for some time, the assistance of UNICEF and its local partners is helping the people of Quezon rebuild their lives.
UNICEF New York correspondent Mario Diaz reports on how villagers in Quezon are rebuilding their lives after the deadly typhoons.
Read more about the typhoons of December 2004.