OPINION BUKIDNON VIEWS: Flood survivors need psychological attention, too By Lourdes G. dela Torre

The Tamay Lang Foundation and La Vina General Hospital went to CDO on December 23, 2011 to distribute relief goods to victims of tropical storm Sendong in Balulang, specifically, in the  NHA Phase I.

With the assistance of some personnel from the City Social Welfare and Development Office, we distributed more or less 250 relief packs to flood survivors whose houses, if still there, were still covered with mud and have nowhere to get their food and other needs.

We arrived by noon after moving from Macasandig multipurpose hall where we have observed that several groups have already distributed relief goods.

With a short notice from our group from Valencia City, residents immediately gathered in front of the small community stage.  We also came with two doctors who conducted a medical check-up. They were assisted by several nurses in the medical mission. Also, the water tanker from Valencia Water District gave potable water.

Those who received the packs consisting of mats, blankets, slippers, clothing, rice, canned goods, flashlights and bottles of water expressed gratefulness for the assistance.
People queued to get a share of what was intended for them.  They patiently waited for their turn as volunteers opened sacks of relief goods.
But the survivors of the flood in NHA Phase 1 in Balulang appeared to be affected not only physically. We sensed they are also affected psychologically.

We could sense helplessness among them as basic utilities have yet to be restored.  We also saw that they were trying to recover and reclaim whatever was left behind.

While they were thankful they survived, in many of them one could sense confusion. The challenge now is how they can start again.

They have not been relocated to evacuations centers. Many of them returned to their houses. But for some of them, they feel they are no longer safe there.

As we talked to some of them, they expressed fear for their security. They feel that the floods may strike again anytime, even if they have not fully recovered yet from the tragedy.

Their eyes reflect gratitude. Yet, they convey a message of uncertainty. Aside from the loss of lives and property, the survivors may have been experiencing psychological trauma.

This is what one more thing concerned individuals and institutions must take into consideration.

Aside from the material goods that we give to address the immediate needs of the victims, we must also ask how else we can help them survive their psychological traumatic experiences.
(BUKIDNON VIEWS is the opinion section of Bukidnon News. Dr. Lourdes G. dela Torre is a researcher whose works have been presented in various national and international conferences. She has published books on Peace Education and Field Study. She is a consultant on community organizing and social and peace studies.)

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