During the Mount Pinatubo eruption in 1991, one of the priority needs in the evacuation centers occupied by victims of the volcanic eruption is the health and well-being of thousands of evacuee children.
Government and non-government agencies did their best to provide relief and comfort to these evacuee children and their families but looking after their welfare in a strange and unfamiliar environment was the pressing challenge.
Aware of that predicament, the Girl Scouts of the Philippines came up with TULONG-BATA.
It is a timely, integrated service project for evacuee children that will take care not only of their physical needs but also of their mental, social, recreational, economic and spiritual well-being.
a. To help ease the load of evacuee parents so that can attend to livelihood pursuits and other important family matters.
b. To provide recreational and educational activities for children ages 0-14.
c. To assist in the maintenance of health, hygiene and sanitation of evacuee children.
d. To provide opportunities for skills training geared towards income generation when finally rehabilitated.
Equipping older children with livelihood skills is one of the activities in TULONG-BATA. The GSP has its Scouts Entrepreneurial Endeavors for Development (SEED) program which started in 1985 and through resource persons and consultants, the older children can learn crafts that can generate income for them and their families.
Evacuee children are given spiritual exercises while in the centers. They are taught prayers and hymns. Bible stories are read to them and they can dramatize some interesting stories from the Bible.
TULONG-BATA is expected to be in operation for as long as there are evacuee children in the centers. While the children are in the center, the activities will continue. The livelihood activities, however, can be intensified during the rehabilitation phase.
Participants are Junior Scouts who are in the sixth grade, Senior Girl Scouts, Cadet Girl Scouts and Adult Leaders who will be trained for the service they will render. Qualified girls are required to submit parents’ consent forms before rendering service to the centers.
The Coordinators/Troop leaders of the project will regularly monitor the activities. Program coordinators are required to submit reports to the overall coordinators. Ham radios installed in Girl Scout stations will be used in monitoring activities.
The project has identified children from ages 0-14 who will be categorized in the evacuation centers according to age levels. 0-18 months; 19 months to three years, 4-6 years old, 6-9 years old, and 10-14 years old.
Girl Scouts who are rendering service to the evacuation centers will undertake activities in the areas of HYGIENE, NUTRITION, RECREATION, LIVELIHOOD AND SPIRITUAL.
In undertaking activities in Hygiene, for instance, the primary concern will be the personal hygiene of the evacuee children. TULONG-BATA participants will bathe infants, under the guidance of adult leaders and if the mothers need help; teach the children good grooming like combing or brushing their hair, brushing their teeth, cutting fingernails and toenails.
Alongside personal hygiene will be cleanliness of evacuation centers. The older children will be taught to sweep and clean their areas and throw away litters into separate containers for paper, bottles, leftovers and plastic for zero waste action.
In Nutrition, Girl Scouts will help prepare milk formulas for infants, give their vitamins, if any, and give their milk during feeding time. They will also help prepare or cook nutritious snacks like oatmeal, porridge with milk and distribute snacks provided by the Center to the children.
Children love to play. And life in the evacuation centers will be livelier if they have playtime with the Girl Scouts. There will be singing, dancing, storytelling, drawing, and even talent showcase.
For children who like to do active games, there will be ball games and sports and even fun walks around the center.
There will be simple turn-over rites to officials and persons involved in the Centers. Reports and documentary materials, if any, will also be presented.
Tulong-Bata needs logistical support, in cash or in kind, to operate the project efficiently. GSP will appreciate donations for the continuity of this program.
After the take-off stage of the Tulong-Bata Project in the Evacuation Centers, the Project may proceed with the following related program thrusts:
1. Re-entry Program – Provide activities that would enable the victims to return to their places of origin or settle in a new place as comfortably as possible and with the least or no feeling of alienation or trauma. Instead of mainly teaching them to learn or acquire practices that we bring in, the girls will be encouraged to learn the ways of life of the evacuees especially the cultural minorities, know their sub-culture and prepare them for their return to their old homes or whatever is left of it, or prepare them for their new habitat.
2. Search for Girl Scouts – There must be an effort to seek out the Girl Scouts among the evacuees, so that they can be given more than the usual help. Among other services, they would be able to continue to enjoy the Girl Scout Program no matter where they are located. Their families too may be given assistance all because their daughter or a member of that family is a Girl Scout. This done, GSP will make their families see that membership in a big organization like GSP does make a difference.
3. Skills Training – Evacuees may be given training in crafts that would sell and therefore provide them with some income. GSP may establish network with the Department of Trade and Industry for this part of the project.
4. Conservation – The young people in the evacuation centers who are in the care of Girl Scouts may be taught the basics of water conservation and their present environment.