NASSAU, BAHAMAS- An international relief team has provided psychosocial support to more than 175 children impacted by Hurricane Dorian, according to a Ministry of Health daily situation report.
The report detailed the efforts of three members of the Child Life Disaster Relief (CLDR) team at the shelter at Kendall Isaacs Gym; Ranfurly Home for Children, for children evacuated after the hurricane; and the Emergency Children’s Hostel.
“…providing psychosocial support and therapeutic interventions to mitigate the negative effects of trauma to over 175 children. This work has been recognized by children, families, and disaster relief workers as being effective and meaningful for the welfare of children affected by Hurricane Dorian,” it read.
“The team identified a number of consistent themes in the children’s play, including destruction and rebuilding, aggression and the need for deep connection and consoling, all of which are expected responses to trauma. Many of the children were very eager and willing to share their
stories through play.”
The team also provided support and reflective listening for staff experiencing stress related to the increased number and needs of children at the hostel, the report read.
The daily update, dated October 4, noted the team has been working in The Bahamas since September 28.
Certified Child life specialists (CCLS) are trained professionals with expertise in helping children and their families overcome life’s most challenging events, according to the organization’s website.
CLDR’s mission focuses on mitigating the effects of traumatic events on children and families in crisis, through empowerment and support.
According to the MOH update, the CLDR team expected to have a total estimate of 200 child interactions by October 3.
“The CLDR team has become an expected and consistent support for the children they have worked with. The supportive and therapeutic relationships that have formed are an important aspect of children’s continued healing,” the daily update read.
“The Americares team present at the shelter commented on the benefit they were able to see in the CCLS interventions with the children. They shared the benefit was not only to the children’s mental health and wellbeing, but also provided support for stressed out and overwhelmed parents.”
The update added: “Parents were able to be given a break to attend to their own coping needs and were also able to witness their children return to playful engagement, and important milestone after disaster.”
Americares is another international relief volunteer organization providing emergency medical teams in the wake of the deadly Category 5 storm.