The 2-week siege that began on September 9, 2013 left 5,143 families or 26, 140 individuals homeless in Zamboanga City. Because of this enormous figure of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), various international organizations have committed to help Zamboanga City to recover from the crisis. World Health Organization (WHO) initiated training on enhancing and capacitating the Mental Health Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) Cluster.
More than three months after the fateful armed violence in this city, Dr. Roy Cosico and Rauell Rhaj Santos of the WHO Zamboanga Field Hub coordinated with the Department of Health Region 9 for the conduct of a 2-phase MHPSS training to the different stakeholders in the peninsula.
The Ateneo de Davao University Center of Psychological Extension and Research Services (ADDU COPERS), through its Internal Director Nelly Z. Limbadan, assisted in the formation of the MHPSS core group. Dr. Limbadan served as one of the project consultants, together with resident psychologist Lolina Bajin of Camp Navarro Hospital of the Western Mindanao Command and UNICEF’s Marco P. Puzon. Zamboanga City Mayor Ma. Isabel Climaco, who is also a Guidance Counselor, took part in the training and gave a brief session on listening skills.
Phase 1 was conducted on December 17-20, 2013 and Phase 2 was from January 7-10, 2014. A total of 95 facilitators from different agencies and organizations attended the training and were actually brought to different evacuation centers for supervised delivery of Psychosocial Processing (PSP) to the IDPs. The 95 facilitators making up the Zamboanga MHPSS Cluster came from DSWD, CSSDO, DOH and the Philippine National Red Cross. Western Mindanao State University also sent volunteers, as did nongovernment organizations like CAPIN, CSFI, Katilingban and Balay Rehabilitation Center.
The first batch of trainees was brought to Talon-Talon Elementary School where there were about 1,200 individuals. The second batch worked with 182 evacuees in Barangay Lunzuran.
On the last day of each training schedule, a local MHPSS planning was conducted to formally organize Zamboanga City MHPSS Cluster. The newly organized local team has now lined up activities to continue the delivery of psychosocial help in the city.
The COPERS is the community engagement arm of the ADDU Department of Psychology. The COPERS provided MHPSS services in response to human-initiated and natural hazard-induced disasters, especially in Mindanao. (Press Release)