Negros Occidental in the Philippines was put under Enhanced Community Quarantines since March 30th, strictly restricting all farming activities and daily regular movement. The nation-wide curfew has caused a prolonged delay in the harvesting of sugar cane and the preparation of land for farming activities.
Schools and colleges continue to remain suspended, adversely affecting the social, physical, and mental health of children and youth. The families are largely restricted to their homes, leaving limited space for their children to move around and play freely. Though, they are restrained from any outdoor activities or loitering around the community, monitoring them still becomes an incredibly challenging job for the parents especially if they do not have any recreational activity to keep them entertained, engaged, and motivated.
Therefore, the Youth Monitors of DAFWARBA drafted a plan of activities to increase the awareness of women cum youth on Gender-Based Violence related issues during such crisis. The Monitors look after the health and safety of children and youth in their communities and keeps them occupied through various productive and recreational activities.
Recently a poster making competition was organized by the Monitors with the theme: Fairtrade communities in times of pandemic- How we foster hope and care for others. The main aim of the activity was to create a conducive environment for the youth and children to freely express the underlying feelings and emotions they go through during such a crisis through the medium of visual drawings. The activity provides ample space for them to share their knowledge and awareness of the pandemic and how they connect with other members of the Fairtrade communities to build hope and support for each other. The exercise helps them to make up for their daily lack of mental and physical exercises and may improve their mood by helping them to cope better with stress.
Though studies claim that children remain less vulnerable than adults to COVID-19, the outbreak can still affect the psychological and physical well-being of children and adolescents. Therefore, it is important that in addition to virtual schooling, they are also provided with extra-curricular activities to negate the impact of social distancing. Indoor physical and mental activities can also help the parents to understand how their children are responding and coping up with the situation.
It is commendable on the part of DAFWARBA to pro-actively assess the immediate requirements of children and youth during such a crisis and provide an adequate support system to dissipate the panic and keep them motivated with such powerful exercises.
At the end of the competition, the responses that came from the children on their awareness of the COVID19 were astounding.
NOTE: The DAFWARBA Community members wear a face mask whenever they go out or carry any activities and observes strict social distancing. The youth are not wearing a mask just for the photos. DAFWARBA community does not have any recorded confirmed case of COVID-19. The Children and Youth of Fairtrade Producer Organizations are protected under the ‘NAPP Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adult Policy’. The prior consent for sharing their pictures have been duly obtained from DARWARBA as per the policy. The image rights extend only to Fairtrade International, all National Fairtrade organizations, Producer Networks, and Marketing Organizations of Fairtrade International.