We rose early, as seems inevitable around here with so much work to do and such limited time. We headed straight to Sacred Heart to see if we could figure out a dry spot to do a PLAYshop or to split into two groups and do two. Their gym has no roof and the rain doesn’t stop so we found an outdoor corridor and basically assembled the entire school there.
There were about 200 children, aged 7 through high school. Knowing it is a real challenge to mix such a great age range, Michelle and I both took to the circle to work with opposite ends of the space. We worked rhythm together, back and forth for a little bit and then began to move our bodies and make some sounds. Michelle got great response from the younger children while I struggled with skeptical adolescents and teens until we reached some screaming and yelling at which time the little kids lit up and the big kids responded!
Michelle raised and lowered her arms and the 7-11 year olds roared in response. The challenge got the teens interested and they got involved. First the little ones, then the teens and back and forth as dueling from both sides of the room ensued; they screamed and yelled at each other in healthy and lively competition.
The group was enormous so considering that and the range of ages present I think it was worth the trip to have gotten some noise out. We did receive about a million high fives so that was pretty great and the teachers and parents were really pleased to see some noise come out like that. When we informed one of the Sisters the day prior that PLAYshops would be noisy, she quickly replied, "That would be wonderful. Before Yolanda, I would always tell the kids to be quiet. Now, I welcome their voices, it means they are alive."
We raced from the school to the university to do our second day and were met with a small number of students, as with the heavier rain that day, people were slower to arrive. When they did, over the next thirty minutes, we played a few movement games to loosen up and then worked through our entire guidebook piece by piece taking questions as we went through, explaining each part of the PLAYshop in our teaching.
We heard from many of them that they had slept exceptionally well the night before, and from one in particular, Francis, we heard how much he loved the YES/NO/yelling part. He said he hadn’t yelled or screamed since the typhoon and that he loved doing so in a place where it felt normal, where everyone else was doing it, and described "NO" as his favorite word to scream because it made him feel "more in control." I don’t think he was alone.
That afternoon we were joined by Dr. Rony Berger, an Israeli psychologist with a specialty in traumatology who has accompanied us to a number of other disasters in the past 8 years and was responsible for setting up much of our logistics on the ground here after coming first 6 weeks ago. I first met Rony in Sri Lanka and he worked alongside us as we developed the beginnings of the PLAYshops in relief camps there. In fact, I was flattered to learn that he uses clips of video from that time in his lectures as examples of what it can look like to work in the field.