2 March, 2010
Nairobi-based Leila Gupta has returned from Haiti where she trained 66 PLAN employees.
Leila conducted three separate training sessions for six hours each with 66 local staff members from PLAN International-UK, who survived the January 12 earthquake.
“Thankfully, only one staff member died, the PLAN HR Asst.’ Suzette, while attending her University class after leaving work in Port-au-Prince,” Leila reports.
However, all the surviving PLAN staff members experienced multiple losses including the destruction of their homes, loss of possessions, furniture, clothing as well as the death of family members and/or friends and colleagues.
“The training content focused on basic child development, normal grief and PTS reactions in children and adults, and interventions extracted from the “Children and War’s Disaster Manual” to reduce their nightmares and bad dreams, flashbacks, difficulty concentrating and sleeping. After providing psychoeducational information and normalizing their reactions, I taught them the safe place technique, various distraction tricks, and some progressive relaxation and visualization strategies”, Leila says.
She also suggested journal writing, role playing, and drawing activities for small groups of children and adolescents when the schools re-open. The Ministry of Education has set a tentative primary school re-opening date for April.
PLAN International has been designated as the Min. of Education focal point for “integrating psychosocial support with basic education” in the tent camp schools, according to Leila.