Camillians train ‘barefoot counselors’ for Yolanda survivors

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MANILA, March 7, 2015— As an answer to the lack of psychologists who could counsel families traumatized by typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas, the Camillians created a team of “barefoot counsellors” that would provide basic trauma counseling and basic health care in their communities.

Fr. Aries Miranda (Photo:CBCPNews)

For the first phase, the Order of St. Camillus has trained an initial 36 individuals in Samar province to be barefoot counselors, who will go door to door and help people suffering from anxiety and depression, which are reportedly still among the common problems encountered by typhoon survivors more than a year after.

Rome-based Father Aries Miranda, head of the Humanitarian Mission Office of the Camillian religious order, said they are alternatives to psychologists, who work in disaster-stricken areas.

“After the typhoon, we gave psychological debriefing to survivors but it’s not the cure because the effects of trauma is lingering. Also, there have not been enough psychologists there but the local people themselves can do something so we started this program on barefoot counselors,” he said. “They are non-professionals but they can be trained on how to deal with trauma.”

As community leaders, another thrust of the team is to link people, he said, and help them coordinate with concerned agencies and organizations in times of calamities. “It’s like guiding them to lessen their worries and somehow prevent trauma,” Miranda added.

“We’re building community support so that in the event of a disaster, these trained people already have the capability on disaster risk management,” the priest explained.

With more trainings coming up, he said barefoot counseling will go a long way in helping the people in areas ravaged by calamities.

The Camillians, also referred to as the Servants of the Sick, are involved in the development of health care and health facilities in developing countries. (CBCPNews)

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