COTABATO CITY: The Department of Health-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DOH-ARMM) distributed on Monday second hand toys, children’s books and magazines to children in the towns of Mamasapano and Pagalungan in Maguindanao province to help lessen the trauma left by the recent conflicts in those areas.
Kadil Sinolinding, ARMM health secretary, said the project dubbed as “Laruang Pambata, Alay sa Kapayapaan” serves as a psycho-social intervention method to help children overcome fear and anxiety and “to promote sound mental health and to prevent depression among” them.
Sinolinding already led several medical and psycho-social interventions to ease the feeling of fear and anxiety of the children affected in the January 25 fighting in Barangay Tukanalipao in Mamasapano town and the clash of two Moro rebel forces in Pagalungan town this month.
About 70 people were left dead and 5,000 individuals forced to evacuate from the comfort of their homes in the encounter involving the police Special Action Force (SAF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Mamasapano.
“After a series of health interventions in the war affected communities in Mamasapano, we found out that the trauma brought about by the clash is the most difficult to handle,” Sinolinding added.
Meanwhile, the fighting between MILF forces and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Pagalungan that started on February 14 has left about seven fighters from both sides dead.
About 60 percent of the 9,000 displaced individuals were children, according to Dr. Tahir Sulaik, Maguindanao health chief.
Sinolinding described the affected people, especially the children, with “fear, anxiety, worries and uncertainties.”
He also explained that the toys will help the children to forget the conflicts and cope with its negative effects.