Return to Happiness Workshop

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Coordinator of the Child Abuse Prevention Unit at the Social Welfare Division, Ms. Jemma Azille

The Ministry of Social Services collaborated with the Ministry of Education, and the Office of Disaster Management to host a two day workshop which began on Monday March 25th, and will come to a close on Tuesday March 26th 2013.

The workshop was conducted to facilitate the implementation of a psychosocial recovery programme in the aftermath of a disaster entitled “Return to Happiness,” a programme supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Coordinator of the Child Abuse Prevention Unit at the Social Welfare Division, Ms. Jemma Azille says this workshop will focus on how they can aid children in returning to happiness after a disaster whether man-made natural or trauma.

Through this two day workshop which targets children aged five to twelve, 50 coordinators will be trained Island-wide.

Subsequently, there will be more workshops where facilitators and assistant facilitators will be trained, so they will be equipped to help the children in the event of a disaster.

The programme uses a range of activities such as drawing, storytelling, painting, modeling, and cultural activities, where the children are provided with the opportunity to express their feelings, anxiety, fears, and ideas, while also displaying their creative skills.

Ms. Azille indicated that, doctors, teachers, nurses, and village councilors will participate in this workshop, that will also guide the children affected by a disaster through various exercises and activities, using a process that allows them to relieve their anxieties and return to happiness.

Coordinator for Special Education in the Ministry of Education, Ms. Melena Fontaine stated following the earth quake in the North of the Island in 2004 which caused significant damage to infrastructure, UNICEF embarked on a training workshop to help children affected by the trauma.

Following this workshop the “Return to Happiness” policy was created which is now taking effect so Dominica will be prepared to assist traumatized children following disasters.

She said although they would not like to face any disaster, they will continue training the relevant persons who can aid the children as they need to be ready at all times, so they will not be caught off guard.

She said the participants of this workshop will at the end be better equipped to deal with children affected by disasters so they can return to their normal lives.

The programme is now being implemented in Dominica but has been carried out in countries such as Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

© 2012 SAT Telecommunications Ltd.

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