In the aftermath of Typhoon Pepeng which devastated Northern Luzon, much of the relief efforts were concentrated on providing food, clothing and shelter for the displaced families. Recovery and rescue efforts filled most of the efforts in the hours right after Typhoon Pepeng passed over the area.
While all these are indeed needed for the basic survival of families, what has been largely forgotten or neglected was the state of mind of the youngest victims of this natural calamity — the children of Baguio, Benguet, Pangasinan and surrounding areas.
Recognizing this need, my friend Cathy Babao-Guballa put up this project called Bearhugs for Baguio. Cathy is a regular writer for the Philippine Daily Inquirer where she has a Sunday column, Roots and Wings. She is also a blogger at Midlife Mysteries and Grief is a Journey (she put up Griefshare, a grief support group in the Philippines). Together with her daughter, Cathy co-wrote a children’s book, Heaven’s Butterfly, to help small kids cope with grief. So Cathy knows her stuff when she realized that just as much as they needed rehabilitation on a physical level, the children had to be aided in coping with the psychological trauma from this disaster.
Below is the message that Cathy posted on her Facebook wall:
BEARHUGS FOR BAGUIO-The children in many of Baguio’s evacuation centers have been severely traumatized by the typhoon. Reports say that many of them stare blankly at walls, and have no appetite. A stuffed toy is a small thing, but for a child who has been through a nightmare such as the recent floods and typhoon, it can mean everything and help him or her, break out of that shell. Together with PINE, a Baguio NGO, a group of friends and I are trying to raise at least 500 bears or stuffed toys to send to Baguio’s children. If you would like to donate your old teddy bears or stuffed toys, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or send a text message to 0917-529-1964 so we can advise you of the drop-off point. Thank you very much!
If you have teddy bears and other stuffed toys lying around your homes, if your kids have outgrown these, and if you find it in your heart to share the joy of hugging a stuffed toy with a child who has known nothing but suffering these past weeks, please send an email or text the mobile number indicated.
I have been meeting up with friends who had toys to donate. If you will be in any blogger events in the coming days, I can receive the toys on behalf of Cathy.
As of this writing, the plan is for a volunteer friend of Cathy to bring the toys up to Baguio on October 25.