Previously, OMEP had sought to collaborate with existing Ache tsunami programs specifically in terms of providing assistance for children aged 0-3 years as other programs were focused on school age children only. However, from OMEP’s perspective, the major focus should be on the youngest children in the community. Providing resources and services for the most vulnerable children would reduce more costly interventions later.
With this goal in mind, the trainers for the professional development activities were OMEP members, graduates in Social Work, who had been volunteering in Aceh since January 2005. Tapping local trainers who had experience in fieldwork was a major feature of the training plan. The project team devised:
- Activities for younger children,
- Supplementary nutrition services, and
- Information meetings and campaigns for mothers.
Local community support and participation were encouraged as well. The project was monitored by OMEP Indonesia. The program coordinator submitted progress reports.
UNICEF Funding–Extending OMEP’s Tsunami Project
During the August 2006 OMEP World Assembly meeting held in Tromsø, Norway, the members of the World Assembly voted unanimously to continue to support the Tsunami Project. At the meeting, Joan Waters, who had visited the projects in Sri Lanka and Indonesia during early June 2006 to monitor in situ the implementation of the project presented a Power Point (Appendix 1). Her presentation not only provided first hand impressions and findings about the situation in both countries and the impact of the OMEP’s involvement but served as the impetus for the Board’s decision to distribute the balance of funds donated by OMEP National Committees throughout the world to the OMEP Presidents in Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
At the same time Joan Waters was asked to seek additional funds from UNICEF, New York for the projects in Matara District, Sri Lanka and Aceh Province, Indonesia. The additional funds would be used to further extend the provision of the basic early childhood education and care services that had been established through the original OMEP Tsunami Project.
Working in collaboration with UNICEF representative Nurper Ulkuer, the OMEP grant for U$10,000.00 grant was submitted for review. Notification that the grant had been accepted was received in December 2006. The OMEP presidents for both countries involved in the project received half the grant allocations. In conjunction with the grant they submitted reports about their training programs and the impact the training programs for the children and families.
At the time, reports were indicating that to sustain the progress achieved, “further resources are needed”, in particular, the services of teacher trainers, doctors, nurses and artists so that the project could be completed as schedule. The cooperation of parents, state officers, and community-based organizations was identified as essential for the successful implementation of the overall project and realization of the anticipated impact. The expected date of completion of the project was 20 April 2006.
With additional funding support provided by UNICEF, professional development training was held for five (5) Saturdays in April and May at Sri Sudharshi Institute Matara. The workshop series provided training for sixty (60) teachers and caregivers working in pre-schools in Galle, Matara and Hambanthota districts. Lecturers from the Open University of Sri Lanka conducted the all-day sessions. The topics were:
- Basic psychological needs of children,
- Stages of physical and emotional development of children, and
- Incorporation of folk tales, folk music and dancing into the curriculum.
Meals and refreshments were provided for the participants, Lecturers and resource persons were paid an honorarium.
Additionally, it is worthy to note that effective August 2006, OMEP Sri Lanka rejoined the organization as a Preparatory Committee.
With the additional funds provided by UNICEF, a 4-person OMEP Team from Bandung travelled to Takengong (by plane and minibus) to lead a training program. It was an extension of their previous work in Banda Aceh, where the team had trained caregivers working with children, birth to 3, in groups. In Takengong most of the participants were teachers with knowledge about the education of school-age children. Therefore, over the 3-day training, the content of the intensive course focused on the education and care of children from birth to 3 years. The course topics included
- Play materials, games and story telling for children 0-3
- Physical care of babies and toddlers
- Language development the development of motor skills and language skills
- Natural environment related to early childhood education.
For the delivery of the course, the lecturers used audio-visual aids. A number of young children participated in practical demonstration sessions. Stationery and musical instruments were purchased. Along with information about child development and the use of appropriate materials, musicians, dancers and art teachers were included as resource personnel during each workshop. Nurses were included as well.
Another feature of the training was having the trainees work with the mothers while children were playing. Through their communications with the mothers and children, the trainers demonstrated ways adults can interact with children to support and foster learning.
As part of the training, each participant received two (2) handbooks, Toys and Games (0-3 year-olds) and Baby and Child Care. Each participant will compile a book of Aceh pictures and stories for later use. The additional grant funds were used to cover the costs of the team members’ fares and accommodation and meals as well the teaching supplies, such as audio cassettes. It is OMEP’s expectation that the workshop participants will train others and provide supervision and guidance as the programs for young children continue to develop.
Based upon the impact of the Tsunami Project in two countries where a natural disaster occurred, the OMEP Executive Board anticipates collaborating with UNICEF on future projects. Meanwhile, the Board will seek travel funds from UNICEF for Joan Waters to make a follow-up monitoring visit to the project sites in Sri Lanka and Indonesia in 2008. The focus of the visits will be to assist the OMEP members in each country to sustain and further develop the quality of programs available in the schools that have been refurbished and/or rebuilt.