My house and school were destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan but I can now learn and play with my friends

Queen Gae’s house was destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan that struck Leyte province in the Philippines in November 2013. Her school was flattened. However, she is grateful that all her friends can join the Child Friendly Site on weekend to play and learn.


Queen Gae, 11, loves to hear the stories that her mother reads in a session at the Child Friendly Space (CFS) in Julita, Leyte. Her mother, Elsie, is a CFS facilitator who keeps the children up and busy playing, singing, dancing and storytelling.

Queen Gae’s house was destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan that struck Leyte the neighbouring provinces in November 8, 2013. Her school buildings were damaged. However, she is grateful that all her friends can join the CFS site on weekend to play and learn.

“I’m happy to be around with friends. We forget our worries when we listen to stories and play. I have learned a lot, like how to show respect to other people, and how to wash my hands and brush my teeth properly to avoid getting sick. I also learn how to draw. I love to draw pictures of flowers, houses and people,” said Queen Gae.

Steps to recovery

As a CFS facilitator, her mother is also learning new things. Elsie attended sessions for facilitators where they discussed topics such as referral pathways for child abuse cases and psychosocial support to disaster-affected children.

Elsie finds her participation in Plan’s programme a big help in coping with her family’s difficult situation. This is also an opportunity for her to have some fun with the children and build her confidence through multiple trainings.

“It means a lot to me that I get to help children in their process to recovery. I am happy to see them excited to attend our sessions and learn new skills,” shared Elsie.

During the school summer, the Irish Aid-supported CFS site will hold more sessions, including on weekdays. Elsie and the other facilitators are planning to hold a sport festival inviting children from neighbouring villages.