As Mount Mayon continues to rumble, Save the Children Philippines is providing psychosocial interventions for students who are unable to attend school because of the volcanic eruption
On June 11, 2023, Mount Mayon, an active volcano located near Legazpi City in Albay Province of the Philippines, started to erupt, emitting flowing lava. Mount Mayon is globally recognized for its remarkable symmetrical cone shape, rendering it one of the most visually appealing volcanoes across the globe. Despite its awe-inspiring beauty, the volcano has a long history of regular eruptions, establishing it as one of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines. These eruptions typically involve the release of ash, the occurrence of pyroclastic flows, and occasional lava flows.
Over 22,000 students from Albay Province’s school divisions have been significantly impacted by the effusive eruption. Around 31% of the more than 10,000 evacuees residing in the permanent danger zone are children. As a consequence, these children have been uprooted from their homes and are unable to attend school as the educational facilities have been converted into unsanitary evacuation centers. Presently, there are 28 designated evacuation centers available for those seeking shelter.
The eruption of Mount Mayon has resulted in the displacement of nearly 40,000 residents in Albay. If the volcanic activity intensifies to a more dangerous level, this number could potentially increase twofold or more. The region is currently under Alert Level 3, indicating the possibility of a hazardous explosive eruption occurring in the coming days, weeks, or even months.
Save the Children Philippines has been tirelessly dedicated to assisting children in atrocious situations. The organization helped assess the specific needs of children and families in the midst of the volcanic activity. To help students cope with the situation, psychosocial interventions are implemented through artistic expression.
According to Atty. Alberto Muyot, the Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children Philippines: “Children are most vulnerable in disasters. Their world has been upended; their sense of stability shattered. Children are experiencing difficulty sleeping due to worries and fears. They are also suffering from respiratory illnesses. Children require specific support, and balancing their immediate requirements with recognizing their long-term needs is imperative. We must act decisively to ensure their emotional well-being remains intact during this challenging period.”
Save the Children Philippines is delivering psychosocial support to affected individuals at three evacuation centers in some areas in Albay. Through art intervention activities, the organization aims to create a secure environment for children, enabling them to express their emotions and effectively deal with the stress induced by the volcanic eruption.
“In the face of the ongoing volcano’s eruption, we are working swiftly to establish temporary schools. These educational sanctuaries will nourish their minds and provide a semblance of normalcy, a lifeline to hope and stability. While we tend to their material needs, our responsibility is to foster an environment that nurtures their resilience, allowing them to weather the storm.” Atty. Alberto Muyot concluded.