Teaching children to stay protected from COVID-19 while having fun

Since community quarantine was imposed in Metro Manila due to the pandemic, sisters Princess , 11 and Rensie, 10, could barely go out and play with their friends.

“We just stay at home and play together,” World Vision sponsored child Princess shares. Their mother, Lorina, keeps reminding them to observe health protocols to avoid getting the virus. The family lives in a poor urban community in Baseco, Manila. The cramped  space makes it hard to observe physical distancing so Lorina and her husband keep reminding their children to not go out.

“I miss playing outside with my friends and also my classmates,” adds Rensie. With over six months on quarantine, the girls have gotten used to their daily activities so both were overjoyed when the next items that their family received from World Vision included an activity/storybook and memory card game. Other items include radio, pens, crayons and sharpener. At least 6000 children recently received such support.

“This intervention aims to amplify health and protection messages in a way that is understood by children. With the card game and workbooks, parents can also join their children so they can play and have an activity together,” says Ligaya Munez, World Vision’s COVID-19 Response Manager.

“I love the card game the most. We play it everyday,” shares Princess.

“You have to have a good memory to win. The goal of the game is to find pairs of matching cards. And I always win,” teases Rensie.

“I always get the pairs that talk about washing my hands or observing physical distancing but Rensie is really good at this game,” says Princess, smiling.

The girls are also partners in working on the workbook/storybook included in the items.

When Lorina is not too busy with her small store, she would join her kids.

“It’s helpful because the cards have good reminders on how to stay safe during the pandemic. Since my children play it almost everyday since they received it, I am certain that they’ve also memorised the messages.” Aside from stay safe health messages, both the card game and the storybooks have messages on how children can be protected from abuses – whether online or offline.

Lorina also underscores the importance of parents making time for their children. According to her, the pandemic has stressed her and her husband, Freddie, especially when income was affected. Freddie is a truck driver in the port near their community. He used to earn at least USD80 each week but with travel restrictions, he was without income for several months. It was only in July that he started reporting for work again but with only few travels, he can only bring home USD20-USD35 each week.

“While going through the tough times, we both decided to not let our fears affect our children. Like today, I make sure that I have time to play with them or ask them about how they are doing, while their father is out,” Lorina explains.

Both Princess and Rensie’s classes will start in October. Lorina shares that both her girls have somehow adjusted to the new normal but she is still hopeful that they can soon go back to their routine prior the pandemic.

In the early months of World Vision’s COVID-19 response, the family has also received hygiene kits and fresh vegetables. To date, the organisation has reached more than 5 million individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Of this number, 1.2 million are children. Assistance includes provision of school supplies, hygiene kits, cash, protective equipment for frontliners and tents for isolation units. Dissemination of health and child protection messages through mass media is also on-going.