Summer in the Philippines is a much sought-after season of the year because kids finally have their long-awaited vacation. This means no more school! Summer vacation means extended play hours with friends, more family outings at the malls or the beach, youth summer camps, or time to explore new interests like taekwondo, acting, music, or art.
The COVID pandemic unfortunately turned the much-anticipated Filipino summer into stay-at-home government restrictions. This “new normal” made it challenging for Filipino kids to find fun ways to spend their summer. It has been more challenging for the Filipino kids living in orphanages or shelters. Shelter visits from their volunteers who often provided fun summer activities dwindled due to quarantine restrictions. Fun trips and other activities outside of the shelter were postponed. According to expert clinicians Blaustein and Kinnburgh (2010), “The experience of trauma is often associated with unpredictability, chaos, and loss of control. In the aftermath of trauma, felt experience of these elements (i.e., unpredictability) may become powerful triggers, or cues, of possible danger.” A child who has experienced trauma may have difficulty coping with big and abrupt changes in their daily routine.
God remains sovereign and faithful even in the abrupt changes in our lives brought on by the pandemic. He facilitated opportunities around the COVID restrictions so that the kids served by Restore experienced fun and connectedness. Restore hosted an online summer art class taught by Tawni Klarke in one of the Cebu shelters. Tawni (a resident of San Jose, California) volunteered her artistic talents and offered therapeutic art activities to kids from the Albert Schweitzer Foundation, Restore’s partner orphanage located in Cordova, Cebu. She actively participates in missions and serves her local church. One of her passions is to encourage students to help others by collaborating with non-profit organizations, responding to local crisis, and ministering to families in need.
With strict adherence to COVID safety protocols, the Albert Schweitzer Foundation management allowed their kids to go to the Restore office to join the free online summer art classes. The kids had a blast participating in the art and crafts activities taught in real time by Tawni through Zoom. They uniquely expressed themselves through their artistic creations. They designed worry stones, blessings jars, discovered Zentangles (a form of art therapy), painted on their gratitude journal, drew on pillowcases, and made affirmations clothespins. The class also provided them an avenue to verbally express their worries and concerns through sharing their prayer requests. They also learned to pray for one another. The kids expressed their heartfelt gratitude and appreciation through words and art. One of the kids wrote, “Thank you so much Ate (older sister) Tawni for teaching us. We love you”. The last day of class on September 25th was celebrated with cake and awards for the participants. However, Tawni will facilitate more art classes in the coming months. We praise our faithful God who leads the right people to partner with Restore in meeting the needs of the kids we serve. We earnestly pray for more volunteers, like Tawni, who freely give their time and talents to help bring fun activities that engage the kids and help in their journey to healing.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! (Eph. 3:20)
Blaustein, M. & Kinniburgh, K. (2010). Treating Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents: How to Foster Resilience through Attachment, Self-Regulation, and Competency. The Guilford Press.