Helping a girl child cope with her present situation

World Vision sponsored child, Nepaline, 11, shyly showed her sketches in a workbook activity that asked to draw what her family is doing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “This part is my favorite,” she says. “I’m not good at drawing, but I enjoy doing it.” She sketched a tree and people with broom sticks. “I drew my family cleaning our yard. We seldom do this before because all of us are mostly out, either in school or selling medicines in other communities,” she says.

Nepaline, who lives in an Aeta village in Batangas, is one of the children who recently received World Vision’s school supplies to help prepare them this school year. The Aeta is an indigenous people in the Philippines, living mostly in the main islands of Luzon.

Families also received a workbook that aims to help children and their family express their thoughts and emotions while on a prolonged quarantine. The workbook features activities based on World Vision’s Celebrating Families Module. Some parts asked for answers in drawings, while other parts require asking family members for answers.

A 2020 global survey conducted by World Vision showed that children aged 8 to 13 are suffering from emotional distress and troubling feelings due to uncertainty and isolation brought by the COVID-19 crisis. Among the negative emotions expressed by the children were anxiety, anger and worry, due to uncertainty and dealing with isolation. The study, conducted between March and April 2020, interviewed 101 children from 13 developing countries, including the Philippines.

“The worksheet will guide families make a more productive use of their time together, at home.  The activities can function as ice breakers and as reflection material for family members, to reflect and talk about their experiences, joys and struggles.  Some parts of the worksheets will also help families share their thoughts and feelings about the current COVID-19 crisis,” Charisma Callejo, World Vision’s Spiritual Nurture for the Filipino Children Project Manager, said.

Nepaline says that it is the first time she and her family were given a workbook that involved her family to also answer. “We asked each other questions and laughed at our answers. It is also nice to do something different with your family. It makes us think, smile, laugh as a family,” she says.

 

Another blessing

COVID-19 pandemic significantly affected Nepaline’s family. “For several months, my parents could not go out and sell herbal medicines. We relied on our barangay (village) officials for food,” she shares. The barangay would give an Aeta family kilos of rice as assistance.

Selling herbal medicine is the villager’s main source of income. They would go to nearby provinces, hoping to have more income. A day’s selling would earn them between P300 ($6) – P500 ($10).  “But it is not always like that. Sometimes, nobody buys our medicine, so my parents would go home with nothing. “It is even more difficult for us this pandemic. My parents cannot go out far to sell the medicine,” Nepaline shares.

[Writer’s note: As of this writing, public transportation in Nepalie’s town can operate only at 50% capacity, resulting to doubled transportation cost.]

A recent World Vision survey conducted across 22 communities in the Philippines showed that 92% of the 423 adults asked said their livelihoods were affected by the mandatory quarantine due to COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the respondents or 69% asked were daily or casual laborers. The respondents (71%) said they suffered loss of jobs or reduction of salaries.

Nepaline’s sponsor’s support is a big help to the family because they were able to buy basic necessities that helped them, especially during months of COVID-19 lockdown. In a letter she sent to her sponsor, she wrote: “Dear sponsor, my family and I are very thankful for the gift you have given me. I bought my school needs, food and groceries for my family. That was a blessing to us!”

First Published: November 2020 / World Vision Philippines