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Comforting kids around the world

August 31, 2012

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Dan Sadowsky/Mercy Corps  </span>
    After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated New Orleans and swaths of the U.S. Gulf Coast, we distributed 55,000 Comfort Kits to children that included school supplies and stuffed animals. We also helped rebuild playgrounds lost to the storm. Photo: Dan Sadowsky/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Paul Dudley Hart/Mercy Corps  </span>
    We teamed up with Soluciones Practicas, Nike and CARE to develop Moving Forward after the 2007 earthquake flattened low-income communities in Peru. The program helps heal emotional wounds through soccer, volleyball and — in Peru’s case — dance. Photo: Paul Dudley Hart/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Norman Ng for Mercy Corps  </span>
    New school supplies helped more than 9,000 children feel safe again in classrooms after the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake, which caused school collapses that killed up to 10,000 students. Photo: Norman Ng for Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Norman Ng for Mercy Corps  </span>
    Creative activities also helped children in China regain a sense of wellbeing. These students at the Yunji Primary School enjoyed games and a play by a local theater troupe. Photo: Norman Ng for Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Alaa Qadom for Mercy Corps  </span>
    Nearly 70% of the parents in Gaza said their children showed more optimism and fewer behavior problems after receiving emergency counseling from our teams in 2009, in the wake of Israel's Operation Cast Lead. Photo: Alaa Qadom for Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Miguel Samper/Mercy Corps  </span>
    In our largest response yet, Mercy Corps teams in Haiti trained parents, doctors, teachers and other caregivers to help 90,000 children overcome their fear after the 2010 earthquake. Photo: Miguel Samper/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Miguel Samper/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Abagail, 11, said Mercy Corps' art therapy program at her school in Port-au-Prince made her feel more capable, confident and creative. Kids painted, drew, built miniature furniture out of matchbooks, made cars out of plastic bottles, and learned to use computers. Photo: Miguel Samper/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Chris Cabatbat/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Mercy Corps brought play and art activities to 2,300 Japanese children after the March 2011 earthquake and resulting tsunami. Photo: Chris Cabatbat/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Carol Skowron/Mercy Corps  </span>
    "Art is such a safe communication — it creates distance from things that are painful or uncomfortable,” one of our Japanese staff members remarked. “And play is a powerful medium for children to explore what they've experience and what they're feeling.” Photo: Carol Skowron/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    In Libya, when we first gave children materials to draw with, they made dark pictures of blood and dead bodies. Later, they began to use more colors and draw flowers. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Mercy Corps  </span>
    In Yemen’s capital, Mercy Corps and partner UNICEF are providing safe spaces for children to learn and play, reclaiming schools that had become war zones. Photo: Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Sean Sheridan for Mercy Corps  </span>
    Our teams in the Central African Republic have recently expanded play therapy groups to reach more children displaced or orphaned by the terrorizing Lord's Resistance Army, led by infamous warlord Joseph Kony. Photo: Sean Sheridan for Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    We've built the only playground at Zaatari camp in northern Jordan, home to more than 20,000 Syrian refugees and growing. Helping Syrian kids who have fled with their families to Jordan and Lebanon is our most recent Comfort for Kids initiative. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps

In the aftermath of natural disasters and wars, children need help to make sense of what's happened. Our emergency-response teams lay the groundwork for emotional recovery in children by using two programs:

Comfort for Kids, developed in partnership with Bright Horizons Family Solutions, combines training for adults to help kids process trauma with an interactive workbook for children, which helps them tell their story of the disaster in a safe environment.

Moving Forward promotes physical and emotional recovery through sports such as volleyball and soccer.

Since we launched these programs after September 11, 2001, they have helped tens of thousands of children heal after tragedy.