Natural Disasters and Personal Trauma
Professionalism Deals with All of It
El Salvador (and COAR) WILL be hit with an earthquake, hurricane, or wildfire in the near future. It is inevitable. But COAR will be ready for them.
Other traumas, childhood traumas, abuse and violence, these, too, require preparation and professional training.
COAR’s professional staff consists of a “technical team” which has two psychologists, three social workers, an accountant, and an administrator (for things like purchasing, a big job). There are ten housemothers (at the moment.) They and the children are supported by a driver, three maintenance/cleaning workers, and a gardener. Other outside professional staff are used as needed or volunteer their services.
Because maintaining an excellent facility is a priority for the Archdiocese of San Salvador, the technical team members are university graduates, highly trained, and committed to continuous professional development. But as we all know, all the staff interacts with the children. They all need to know how to handle emergencies and the special situations that can arise among traumatized children and teens. The housemothers, in particular, receive special training and the extra emotional support that they need to carry the burdens of the children and the stress of life in El Salvador.
Here is a list of the training that the staff has received, taking advantage of the extra time of quarantine:
- “GAM” (Grupo de Apoyo a Mujeres / Women’s Support Group) – In January the technical team finished a year-long program on accompanying and empowering women in coordination with Cáritas/CRS (Catholic Relief Services), two large, international Catholic Charities. They are now training the rest of the staff.
- “Victim Assistance Group” – Staff participate in monthly meetings of psychologists and support teams coordinated by the National Office of Cáritas. The intent is to better equip care givers to deal with victims of trauma, especially necessary with the newer COAR children.
- Director Marta, two technical team members, and two housemothers are enrolled in a certification course on the environment surrounding childcare in Central America (in conjunction with the Human Rights Office of the Archdiocese of Guatemala, the BICE (International Catholic Child Bureau) and the Universidad Landívar in Guatemala). This program will help them all learn more about children’s rights and be at the forefront of developments in this area.
- Safe food handling training and nutrition advice from public health clinic in Zaragoza for housemothers.
- Training on fire prevention, disaster prevention, and first aid for all staff.
- Training from “Fundacion Silencio” (Silence Foundation) on positive discipline for all staff.
- Workshops on understanding emotions and emotional growth for housemothers and internos.
- And…daily gospel reflections led in individual houses. (Our Director knows the value of spiritual aid as well as professional aid.)