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At a glance: Indonesia

Indonesia: The power of touch helps children heal

© UNICEF video
Music and dance are used as therapy at the UNICEF-supported child centres.

By Steve Nettleton

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, 8 March 2005 – Catholic nun Brigitta Renyaan is using the power of touch to heal the psychological wounds inflicted on the children of Banda Aceh by last December’s tsunami.

Brigitta says, “I use the energy within my body to transmit it to the other person and this energy empowers that person to heal themselves.”

Brigitta is a Catholic nun who has spent years treating young victims of sectarian violence on the Indonesian island of Ambon. Her experience there has given her an affinity with young Acehnese, who have also grown up in a region long afflicted by violence.

© UNICEF video
A child receiving "the power of touch" to help heal psychological wounds.

“Acehnese children have a two-part trauma. Not only are they dealing with the trauma from the tsunami but they also have years of trauma from the rebel conflict,” she says.

Brigitta works for a Muslim aid organization at one of 17 UNICEF-supported children’s centres across Aceh province. The centres provide activities for more than 8,000 children, including basic education, drawing, games, and dancing.

The centres also have a role in helping reunite families split apart by the tsunami, by registering and tracing children separated from their parents and siblings. So far more than 1,200 such children have been documented and their photos and personal information logged in a central database.

“UNICEF strongly believes that building a safe and protective environment for children in emergencies is the best way to support their recovery and the healing process,” says UNICEF Child Protection Officer Isabella Castrogiovanni.




25 May 2005:
Steve Nettleton reports on how UNICEF is helping the children of Aceh overcome tsunami related trauma.

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