Last week, I was cordially invited to be part of a workshop facilitated by staff of the the United Nations Children’s Fund (formerly United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund), or UNICEF. The workshop started on March 6 and will end on March 10, 2015 with the theme: “Helping to Meet the Psycho-social Needs of Children after Cyclone Pam”. The workshop is at the Melanesian Hotel in Port Vila.

It is an “eye-opener” for every participant of the workshop, with presenters giving talks on how children can be traumatized during and after a natural disaster like the recent TC Pam, and how we can all help them recover and reconnect with their normal lives.

From Monday morning up to Wednesday morning, the participants sit and listen to talks on the best practices and theories on how to help meet the psycho-social needs of children in Vanuatu post TC Pam.

There have been examples from other parts of the world which recovered from a natural disaster and every single one of them brings forth lessons that the participants will need in their daily contact with children.

But it does not end there.

The primary purpose of this workshop is to involve teachers, writers, composers, community workers, risk reduction and risk preparedness specialists, artists, graphics designers and photographers who can work together to produce print material for children and their caregivers.

There are at least 50 participants and they have been divided up into 7 groups, each group with a specific assignment to produce a particular type of print material that deals with a certain aspect of the psycho-social needs of children in Vanuatu.

It has been a very intense experience especially since it is the first effort of it’s kind and is utilizing 100% local talent – most of whom are still metaphorically wet behind the ears and pushing them to produce an internationally appropriate product in less than 10 days.

The talks are motivating and, that in itself, is challenging the participants to push themselves beyond their creative limits and bring the best they can offer to the design table.

Brainstorming ended on Tuesday evening and the participants are now psyched to begin working on their projects.