|Outreach N° 97 - Children in especially Difficult Circumstances - Part 2: Children Affected by Catastrophes (OUTREACH - UNEP - WWF, 70 p.)|
SUGGESTIONS FOR USE
Anna is a child in distress. A field worker, Maria, tries to help her.
1. Maria gently touches the girls' dress to show her wish to make close contact with her. Maria has chosen a time of day when there are few adults around so that she can talk with Anna quietly. Maria's friend, Dolores, is sitting a little distance from them, so as not to disturb them. She is listening closely to what they are saying, and taking notes of the conversation. In this way, the field worker will be able to remember what Anna said and therefore be better able to help her.
2. At first Anna talks in a voice so low that it is difficult to hear. She only answers 'yes' or 'no'. She feels shy and uncertain. Maria is very patient. After a while, Anna looks up. This is a sign that she feels more relaxed and has become interested in what Maria is saying. Maria sits in such a way that it is possible for her and Anna to look at each other's eyes and face. That way it is easier to guess what Anna is feeling, and the contact between the two is more personal. As the conversation proceeds, Maria sometimes comforts Anna by gently touching her hand.
3. Maria understands that she must not force or press Anna to answer any questions. But she knows that if Anna feels that Maria is really listening to her and understands her, Anna will, bit by bit, tell her all her troubles. It is quite natural that Anna starts crying when she tells Maria of all the terrible things she has experienced. Maria moves a little closer to Anna and lets her cry until she has finished. Maria knows that crying is a good way to relieve tension and that tears are not harmful.
4. Maria is aware that a child must never be left atone when crying, and that she must stay with Anna until she feels better again. After a while, Maria's patience is rewarded. Anna stops crying, tries to smile a little, and looks relieved. The heavy feeling she has had for some time in her chest has gone away. Here is someone whom she can talk to!
5. When Maria and Dolores leave, Anna starts playing happily with the other children. Maria has promised to come back another day to talk to Anna. She knows Anna has more to tell her. Anna needs not only to talk about the past, but also about her present situation and her future. In the meantime, play and laughter with friends are the best ways of healing Anna's wounded mind.
1. What did Maria do to carefully plan her conversation with Anna?
2. Because it was so important for Maria to give her full attention to Anna, she arranged for Dolores to take notes. Why might note-taking be important and why is it important to introduce Dolores to Anna, and explain why she is taking notes?
3. Do you think Maria is a good listener? Give reasons for your answer.
4. Patience is important especially when listening to children. Why do you think this is so?
5. "Reading" the expressions on Anna's face and her body language helps Maria understand a little more about what the child is thinking. What do you think a child might be thinking or feeling when he/she:
(a) tries to avoid eye contact or hangs her head?
(b) is twining fingers and can't relax?
How do you think you can tell if a child is afraid of close contact?
6. Why do you think it is important to never press children to tell things they do not want to or allow anybody else to do this?
7. How can you make sure a child understands what you are saying in your conversation?
8. How does Maria end her conversation with Anna?
9. What do you think Anna feels after her conversation with Maria?