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Psychosocial Intervention and Disaster Education in Negros Oriental

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The Visayas Primary Health Care Services, Inc. (VPHCS) sent a team to conduct Psychosocial Intervention and Disaster Education in Barangays Binobohan, Planas and Buenavista, Guihulngan and Barangay Mapalasan, La Libertad, Negros Oriental last December 13 – 20, 2012.The week long activity is part of the rehabilitation project of the Community Empowerment Resource Network (CERNET) for victims of the earthquake and landslide in the barangays last February 6, 2012. The rehabilitation project also includes housing assistance and livelihood programs for the residents of the affected communities.

The VPHCS is a consortium member of the CERNET which is a civil society organization in the Visayas which assists marginalized people’s organizations in their development initiatives.

The team composed of doctors, nurses, psychologists and other health professionals conducted educational inputs on the different kinds of disasters, both human and natural-made, overview of disaster preparedness, mitigation and management and psychosocial counseling for nearly 2,000 residents.

The activity was held in coordination with the four farmers’ associations in the barangays, namely, the Panaghugpong sa mga Mag-uuma sa Binobohan, Kahugpongan sa mga mag-uuma sa Planas, Kahugpongan sa mga mag-uuma sa Buenavista and La Libertad Weavers Association, the local government units of Guihulngan City and La Libertad and the barangays councils.

Insights from a psychologist

Our psychosocial intervention and disaster education program had great impact on the residents and helped them to answer their own concerns. We listened with empathy as they shared their stressful experiences as victims of tragedies that were totally unexpected — the earthquake and landslide in February 2012, which made them fear of more coming typhoons, floods following heavy rains, other calamities and end of the world. The farmers willingly cooperated to learn from the disaster education and psychosocial therapy.

However, in Barangay Binobohan, what was most stressful was the militarization (of the Philippine army) which caused the residents fear of impending death and made them hypervigilant always.

We recommend for a follow-up of the psychosocial education, especially for the children who may need more time to fully address their psychotherapy.

By Gilbert A. Kagakit
On Call Psychologist
Cebu Normal University

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