SAVE The Children Zimbabwe is currently offering Psychosocial Support Services (PSS) to children in Cyclone Idai affected communities in a bid to empower children to overcome fear through building resilience as well as develop coping mechanisms.
By Michael Gwarisa
Through the use of a PSS toolkit called Singing to the lion’s by Dr Jonathan Brakash a Clinical psychologis, Save the Children has reached a total of 1463 children comprising of 777 girls and 686 boys with PSS activities that are implemented at two Child Friendly spaces they have set up at Ngorima Clinic at Kopa township in Chimanimani and at Paidamoyo Clinic in Chipinge District.
In an interview with HealthTimes, Save The Children Zimbabwe Communications and Advocacy Advisor, Ms Sophie Hamandishe said many children were suffering from post-traumatic stress and were in need of psychosocial support services.
The burden on children include burden of fear from the experience of witnessing destruction resulting in loss of lives including the lives of their parents or relatives, friends and school mates, their homes and crops etc.
“Children develop so much fear of rainfall which they will always associate with the cyclone. This is a significant burden as the children will continue to live in fear as long as they do not get PSS to overcome this fear of rainfall. Some children went through delayed mourning as they were busy focusing on their survival during the immediate aftermath of the cyclone coupled with shock thereby delaying grieving for their loved ones,” said Ms Hamandishe.
She added that the trauma they went through is some form of psychological injury and children have individual differences and therefore heal differently.
“The burden is further worsened by the constant reminders in the environment surrounding them such as the huge boulders and trail of destruction left by Idai Which reminds them of the losses they suffered, on a daily basis.
“The cyclone took away Children loved ones i.e parents, guardians, siblings, homes, personal belongings, food etc. More importantly lack of closure is traumatic as most of their loved ones where swept away and never found nor formally buried.”
She also said, “the trauma is also emanating from the dramatic way, unknown to the people that the cyclone hit, during the night, whilst many children were sleeping in their homes, which are considered safe spaces for children. Such attack on children’s safe spaces causes trauma.”
Meanwhile, Ms Hamandishe indicated that the PSS program was succeeding and children were slowly moving away from the pain and gathering streangth.
“Children, now know their sources of strength and support to help them in times of distress. From recreational play and activities like playing chess etc has enabled children to create and strengthen personal relationships, a critical component of resilience building.
“Our PSS has been good post the cyclone for children, assessments of children who partook in Save the Children PSS sessions through children’s feedback meetings reveal improved psycho social well- being. “
Save The Children is using the singing to the lions methodology which primarily focuses on helping children overcome fear.
“As such, children have been able to relearn that rainfall is an important component our climate and it is only in rare occurrences that it causes destruction. The Singing to the lion’s toolkit that we are using empowers children to overcome fear and they are now better placed to face the upcoming rain season,” she said.