First Aid Arts in the Philippines

Art is powerful. It always has been, and always will be. Art has the capacity to touch the depths of your soul, in the places where words can’t fit. Whether it’s painting, dance, acting or singing, art is an incredible tool for healing.
— Crystal Sprague, My Refuge House, Cebu, Philippines

Ruth Yeo Peterman, our Director of Mental Health and Program Development, has had a busy summer. In June, she and volunteer counselor, Natalie Small, traveled to Manila and Cebu to train aftercare workers in the use of our Healing Arts Toolkit.

In Cebu, My Refuge House coordinated the three-day event, hosting twenty-five workers from thirteen beautiful organizations ranging from recovery centers to social welfare and aftercare centers -- all of them dedicated to defending, protecting, and supporting trauma survivors.

The thirteen organizations involved in the Cebu Training were Mercy In Action, Amaziah Child Development Center, City Social Welfare office (Tacloban), Philippines Children Ministry Network, My Refuge House, Victory Center, Good Shepherd Recovery Center, Central EFC, IJM Cebu, Father’s House Inc, Young Life Healthcare, SGI, and Spring of Life.

Following the training, Ruth and Natalie visited My Refuge House to observe as the social worker and counselor facilitated a practice session with the residents at the shelter. Dr Ivonn Wiggan, clinical director, and Crystal Sprague, executive director, expressed deep gratitude for the Healing Arts Toolkit training and an interest in collaborating with First Aid Arts to develop and pilot a more comprehensive arts-based therapeutic program in addition to the Healing Arts Toolkit.

Dr Ivonn said, “We’re seeing more and more that western approaches to therapy do not work in this context. We are really wanting to move towards building on what has worked for the Filipino people in the face of all the past trauma, and to draw on their resiliencies. It really excites us that First Aid Arts is focused on building resiliency through the arts. This is what we need!”

Manila Training attendees

Manila Training attendees

In Manila, Samaritana Transformation Ministries hosted a three-day training for nineteen workers from nine organizations, including IJM Pampanga, IJM Manila, Women Health Philippines, Samaritana Transformation Ministries, Safe Refuge, Made in Hope, DSWD Home for Girls, DSWD Palayan City, and DSWD Tarlac City.

Ruth and Natalie received enthusiastic responses following that training as well, and Alex Hermoso, co-founder of PREDA, also expressed a desire to organize a follow up training with caregivers at child care centers in Central Luzon. 

We're deeply grateful for Ruth's hard work and the privilege of taking the healing power of the arts to trauma survivors in the Philippines and all over the world.

And we're grateful for you, our friends, who support us in this beautiful endeavor. If you haven't yet made a donation to First Aid Arts (or even if you have), now would be a great time to consider one. Our waiting list is growing, and our workers are eager to meet the need.

All we need is you.

Thank you for helping us do what we love to undo what we hate. You are the gift.