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Tsunami disaster – countries in crisis

Psychosocial care and support for Thailand’s tsunami survivors

© UNICEF Thailand/2005
A post-tsunami counselling session in Phuket, Thailand. Games and opportunities for self-expression are a part of the healing process.

PHUKET, Thailand, 15 March, 2005 – Many children who survived the tsunami continue to feel its effects, in the form of anxiety, recurring sadness or nightmares. Memories of the event and of what was lost – family, friends, homes – can haunt their daily lives. But in Thailand’s city of Phuket, teenagers attending a counselling session for tsunami survivors laughed and played games, showing, if only temporarily, little sign of the trauma they endured.

Thirteen-year-old Saowapa Hoksad was at the session, along with 48 other affected children. “This is so helpful,” she said, “and the first real chance for us to talk about our experiences in a very supportive way.”

Psychosocial care and support for children affected by the tsunami is one of UNICEF’s top priorities. The organization is supporting the work of counsellors who travel to affected areas, in order to help children deal with the after-effects of the disaster.

UNICEF child protection project officer Dr. Kitiya Phornsadja says alleviating trauma is vital if the tsunami generation is to develop to its full potential. “We believe that healing children and restoring them to normal lives through these sorts of psychosocial activities within the context of their community, family and school is the best way,” she says.

At the Phuket counselling session, children were asked to draw a picture of their home and describe how it changed since the tsunami struck.  Many of them expressed their yearning for things to go back to how they were before the disaster.

Initiatives which provide opportunities for children to express themselves – such as the counselling sessions in Phuket – play an important role in the healing process. UNICEF is now working with government authorities and non-governmental partners to boost psychosocial support and social protection services through the education system and community organizations.






March 2005:
Inese Zalitis UNICEF Head of Office in Thailand discusses how the money donated to UNICEF is being spent to help children.

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