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Trauma Healing for Earthquake Victims in Sumatra

Padang West, Sumatra

Happy Kids in Padang in their makeshift tent after their school was destroyed by the earthquake.

TFI members David John and Ben with the kids in Padang after a time of fun and games.
TFI young people doing an early morning Puppet Show for the children in Padang
Happy Kids in Padang in their makeshift tent after their school was destroyed by the earthquake.
TFI member Joanna taking personal time with the kids at a Padang school.
TFI member John and some school kids in Padang enjoying songs together

One of the common side-effects of natural disasters such as the massive earthquake in West Sumatra is fear and trauma. Usually the most seriously affected are children, especially those who have lost members of their family, friends, or their homes. These unseen wounds often take a long time to heal. Before our visit to Padang this month, word also spread that geologists had predicted an even larger quake to strike the region. True or not, this rumor intensified the feelings of uncertainty and stress that many people were already experiencing.

As we have after other disasters of this sort, The Family International in Indonesia assembled a team of volunteers to bring happiness and cheer and help end the trauma that many of the youngest victims of the quake were experiencing. We brought an exciting puppet show including a lively song and activity program. The program focused on topics such as overcoming obstacles, staying positive, taking initiative, and appreciating differences.

During our week long stay we took our programs to 10 different schools, kindergartens, and orphanages in Padang and the surrounding area. Some schools had been completely flattened by the quake so we had to set up in a tent amidst the rubble. We spent time after the programs interacting with the children and young people. We place a great emphasis on personal interaction as it often goes a lot farther than mere physical aid and is key factor in any disaster recovery situation.

Coloring pages and school supplies were distributed to all students and we bought a brand new computer for one orphanage that had lost their only computer in the quake.

Originally Published in 2010.