Young People Join UNICEF's Emergency Response in Dinagat Province

UNICEF and CFSI are teaming up with young people in making our Child-Friendly Spaces come to life

Narine Aslanyan
Youth volunteers at Barangay Bagumbay, Dinagat Islands
UNICEF/2022/Narine Aslanyan
21 February 2022

Typhoon Odette (international name Rai) devasted the coastal villages of Caraga region, Southern Leyte, and other parts of the Philippines.

The remote village of Bagumbay in Dinagat Islands is one of the severely affected areas. People were injured, thousands of families became homeless, schools were destroyed, and health services were interrupted. This disaster further deepened the vulnerabilities of many families already affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools have been closed for over two years. Children have missed going to school, their teachers, and their friends.

Children play inside a child-friendly space at Brgy Bagumbay, Dinagat Islands
UNICEF/2022/Narine Aslanyan

The children of Bagumbay were not left alone to cope with the devasting impact of Odette. In January, UNICEF, together with its implementing partner, Community, and Family Services International (CFSI), established a child-friendly space at the heart of the village. UNICEF teams installed a tent and brought along many toys and recreational items. Inside, different structured, supervised sessions are scheduled in the mornings. In the afternoons, children enjoy the company of each other.

Children of Brgy. Bagumbay inside UNICEF's child-friendly space
UNICEF/2022/Narine Aslanyan

When the doors of the child-friendly space were opened, young people who also live in the village teamed up with UNICEF and CFSI to assist with the activities being held inside the tent. Marielle Mason, an 18 year old student in Grade 12, is one of the 10 volunteers working with us everyday. "My family and I had to stay in the evacuation center for several days after the typhoon because our house was destroyed. Now, my parents have finally repaired a small part of our house so that we can all return home," shared Marielle. “When CFSI and UNICEF started looking for volunteers, my sister, Mari-Rose, my friends, and I were excited to join because we want to help minimize the impact of the typhoon on the children here in our village".

Youth volunteers outside UNICEF’s child-friendly space at Brgy. Bagumbay, Dinagat Islands
UNICEF/2022/Narine Aslanyan

The daily tasks for volunteers are exciting and often challenging. They do outreach activities in the communities to pass child protection messages and to invite the children to play at the child-friendly space. However, most of their time is spent inside the tent to play with the children and assist trained social workers with other activities.

"Many children ask their parents to be allowed to go to the child-friendly space as early as possible, right after the breakfast, even if it is still dark outside," continued Marielle. "UNICEF will need to open more of these type of centers in Dinagat. These are very popular with children as there is not much else to do for them here" Marielle concluded. #

You can help us reach more children and families affected by Typhoon Odette. Donate at bit.ly/UNICEFEmergencies