In Croix des Bouquets, Cuban Experts Help Haitian Children Cope with Disaster

Cuban specialists have designed a program dedicated to protecting children, the most vulnerable sector of the population in cases of disasters, such as the earthquake of January 12 and successive tremors in Haiti. Having set up a venue for the project in a playground, now become a field hospital enabled by Cuba in the town of Croix des Bouquets, the Cuban experts seek to alleviate the psychological effects of the earthquake.

Parents brought their children to the center where they could temporarily put aside the haunting memories of destroyed houses and schools, missing or mutilated family members, and lack of food and water, among others. Cuban doctor Cristóbal Martínez, explained to parents the essence of the program for mitigation of psychosocial damage to the child and adolescent population. After a few warm-up activities and games, the children of Croix des Bouquets, who arrived unsmiling and with elusive gazes, were able to laugh, sing, and dance.  Activities included short story readings, singing Haitian children’s songs, and painting sessions. Teachers from Haiti’s National Art School entertained the children by using traditional rhythms with texts promoting optimism, which transmitted the message that the country will emerge from the tragedy and defeat misery.

Martínez explains that for the child, playing games is a primary psychological need and that, if we satisfy that need, “now we are giving something.” The expert says that even in the event of a very large disaster, “if the child goes to school, eats, plays, and can have fun, already in his mind the disaster has passed. It “no longer exists, because he already has what he needs; when these children are in school and can play and practice a sport (which is ultimately, a game), the battle is almost won.”

Cuban experts want to replicate the plan and set up similar programs in other areas of the country affected by the earthquake.

For full article (in Spanish), see http://www.trabajadores.cu/materiales_especiales/coberturas/haiti-dolor-y-desesperanza-1/rescata-cuba-alegrias-infantiles-en-devastado

Photo from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/04/world/americas/04haiti.html?hp

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