The recently-concluded battle between the MNLF and government forces that lasted for almost a month has not only caused damage to houses and properties, but also to the emotional state of the people, especially to the feeble minds of the children.
Children who were traumatized during the war now stay with their families in evacuation centers since they were left with barely anything. With the horrors of the war, these children have to undergo stress debriefings so as to refresh their minds from the tragic violence that broke out in September and help them get over the painful memories that they have experienced in their early age.
Incidentally, with the celebration of the National Children’s month, the Center for Peace and Development of the Western Mindanao State University under Dr. Marcelina G. Carpizo was tapped by the Department of Social Welfare and Development IX to conduct a Draw and Tell competition for children in selected evacuation centers in the city. Bantay Bata and Katilingban Para sa Lalambuan were hand in hand with the DSWD and WMSU-CPD in organizing the stress debriefing for the children in evacuation centers.
About a hundred children participated in the Draw and Tell Competition where the participants were made to draw a picture of their family and where they used to live. Set on October 22, the theme of the contest was “Kahirapan ay Wakasan, Karapatan ng Bata Ipaglaban.”
Children ages 3-17 years old, who were evacuees housed in Baliwasan Central School and Zamboanga National High School West were categorized according to age bracket. Cash prizes also varied according to categories—for the 3-5 year-old bracket, P1,000.00 was awarded to the 1st placer, P800.00 to the 2nd placer and P500.00 to the 3rd placer. A consolation prize of P200.00, however, was given to the non-winning kids. On the other hand, P1,500.00 was given to the 1st placer for the 6-12 year-old group, P1,000.00 to the 2nd placer, P800.00 to the 3rd placer and P400.00 to the non-winning participants. For the 13-17 year-old category, a cash prize of P2,000.00 was awarded to the 1st placer, P1,500.00 to the 2nd placer, P1,000.00 to the 3rd placer and P500.00 was given as consolation prizes.
The Draw and Tell Competition was in line with the Presidential Proclamation No. 267 that declares the month of October of every year as the National Children’s Month to emphasize the importance of the role of the child within the Filipino family and in nation building. (AJ Dalugdug – PAO/WMSU)