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Vanuatu Business Review » Workshop focuses on children in emergencies

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Workshop focuses on children in emergencies

By Len Garae.

Front row: Youth Director Henry Tavoa (3rd from left) with Youth Employment Services Officer, Vira Taevakalo in group photo with facilitators and participants

A 2-day training workshop on Psycho Social Support was launched at the Melanesian Hotel in Port Vila yesterday.

“Our focus in this workshop is to deal with emergencies affecting children in particular, especially in Vanuatu which is rated in the world as a ‘disaster prone country’,” said Director of the Department of Youth Development and Sports, Henry Tavoa, when launching the workshop.

The workshop will benefit the following four communities: Pango, Erangorango, Mele and Mangaliliu.

With the rapidly increasing population of young people in Port Vila and its surrounding communities, the workshop is a must.

The same programme has already been organised in the Northern Provinces and TAFEA. “The objective is for the trainers to train the youths in their communities,” Director Tavoa explained.

“Emergencies are situations in which we must be ready at all times because we know that a growing number of victims are children, which is why we must be ready to act to help the children anytime.”

After the workshop today, when the trainers return, they are equipped to strengthen the same programme in the affected areas in their individual communities.

Currently, the most common natural disasters are cyclones, landslides, volcanic ash fall, flooding and earthquakes.

In addition, there are also manmade disasters including COVID-19, sexual abuse, marriage breakup, sexual exploitation and gender protection awareness and how to care for the vulnerable groups.

“There is also the emotional recovery of children following emergencies,” Tavoa said.

He called on all parents, guardians and leaders to take responsibility for all children.

The Director thanked the partners in Government, including the Ministry of Justice which is responsible for children’s rights, UNICEF for funding the program and AusAID stakeholders.

Youth Employment Services Officer, Vira Taevakalo, focuses on helping young people to secure job opportunities for themselves and their communities.

As a veteran senior public servant in the Department, he said the programme was initiated following Cyclone Pam. Basically it was to help children and young people to ‘bounce back’ despite their situations after the disaster.

He said people receive relief supplies but it is not certain how affected the victims are psychologically. “The victim may need medical attention while he or she is offered some rice, tinned tuna and noodles,” he said.

“But every child depends on adults to provide psycho social support, to help him or her to cope with his or her social surrounding in times of disaster.”

It is Taevakalo’s wish to see 20 trainers link with a further 20 new trainers in each community, to assure children that despite the situations they have encountered, “there is always hope”.

“We can work together to build on what we have currently to go forward,” he said. “Together, we can work to lift our community from the gutter to contribute towards a prosperous future of our country.”



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