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Mercy Corps supports trauma recovery in Chile with successful Comfort for Kids approach

March 4, 2010

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Agency partners with local health organization in Chile to address emotional trauma in children caused by the recent earthquake.

Portland, OR — Mercy Corps is partnering with a local health organization in Chile's earthquake zone to ease disaster-related trauma in children and youth with its Comfort for Kids methodology. The 8.8 magnitude quake that hit Chile on Saturday has caused significant damage to Concepción and the capital city of Santiago, and has claimed the lives of over 800 people. The President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, estimated that upwards of two million Chileans have been affected by the quake.

“The Chilean Government has considerable capacity to deal with immediate post-earthquake needs of its people,” explained Randy Martin, Mercy Corps director of Global Emergency Operation. “Unfortunately the emotional trauma of children is often neglected in the rush to satisfy pressing physical needs. Mercy Corps looks forward to bringing our Comfort for Kids approach to help children, parents and other caregivers in Chile recover from the quake."

Children in Chile have been traumatized by one of the most powerful earthquakes on record. Mercy Corps’ Comfort for Kids program combines training for parents, teachers and other caregivers with a workbook that helps children tell their story of the earthquake in a safe environment that promotes emotional healing. Time is of the essence. Providing psychosocial support to traumatized children within the first four-to-eight weeks following a disaster can prove critical to preventing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from evolving into chronic PTSD or worse.

Comfort for Kids was developed by Mercy Corps and the global workplace childcare provider Bright Horizons to help children in New York City following the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The program subsequently helped children and their families in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, in Peru after the earthquake in 2007 and in China after the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake. Most recently, Mercy Corps rolled out Comfort for Kids in Haiti, working in partnership with the First Lady Elizabeth Preval's efforts to provide arts and play activities and child-friendly spaces in some of Port-au-Prince's massive displacement camps.

In Chile, Mercy Corps will deliver Comfort for Kids through a partnership with Educación Popular en Salud, or EPES. Since 1982, EPES has advanced health education and human rights for socially and economically marginalized women and their families in Chile's two largest cities, including Concepción, which was badly battered by Saturday's quake.

HOW TO HELP:

Mercy Corps
Chile Earthquake Response
Dept NR
PO Box 2669
Portland, OR 97208

www.mercycorps.org
1-888-256-1900