Bahamas – Team 3

Tammy Hayes (lead), Jessica Johnson, Dana Burnett

Deployment Dates: October 14-20th 

Day 1: October 14th

We worked with approximately 30 children at the gym. As we began to introduce activities, smaller groups formed organically, with children moving from one to another on their own. While playing the board game “Q’s Race to the Top”, one child shared that she sometimes hides her food and lies if asked if there is any left. Food hoarding behaviors are often an indication of stress and trauma.

Day 2: October 15th

We were able to break into small groups at the gym more effectively and work on cooperative play, art, and expressive games.  One group read, “A Terrible Thing Happened”, and the children talked about how they could relate to the “terrible thing”.  We taught the song/dance “Tooty Ta”. The children loved the silliness of it and we were able to use the song throughout the week to build community and as an outlet for physical expression. We observed less aggression today overall, but still seeing their aggressive play and interactions which is a typical trauma-reaction.

Day 3: October 16th

Today we went to the Emergency Children’s Hostel. Many of the children were in school, so we spent our time with preschool aged children and a couple of children diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Although the younger children were very aggressive and challenging to direct, we felt we were able to provide them some support through guided and free play with a beach ball and bubbles. We read the books “A Terrible Thing Happened” and “The Way I Feel”. There were three children with developmental delays, we were able to provide some appropriate play and stimulation for them.

Day 4: October 17th

The Kendall Isaacs Gym felt much calmer and less chaotic today.  We brought a speaker and the children requested songs and danced enthusiastically.  We even formed a conga line and danced through the shelter, which encouraged participation of the adults and seemed to lift the morale in the room.  A couple participants shared their favorite songs by singing them for us. We drew games, such as hopscotch, on the blacktop with sidewalk chalk, which the children enjoyed.  One 10-year-old girl shared her story of leaving her island and then said, “I know God is watching, because my family is safe and you are here.”

Day 5: October 18th

By invitation, we participated in the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support meeting at the Ministry of Health.   After our meeting, we went back to the gym. It rained during our visit and we played card games with the children. We read “The Invisible String”, “The Way I Feel” and talked about how someone could feel many things at once.  One member of our team worked with a 2-year-old with special needs.  She offered the child’s mother a Play-Doh container with rice inside to shake. The mother began singing as the child shook the container, both had huge smiles.

Day 6: October 19th

We observed an increase in aggressive play and interactions today.  A girl who had been very angry, grabbing and pushing, all week opened up and shared about her experience and drew a picture of her house, “It’s a yellow house with a blue door and it has the prettiest flowers in the yard.”

As we reflect on this past year, one of our greatest accomplishments was serving  children affected by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas.

We would especially like to thank Veterans United Foundation and the many other private donors who made this deployment happen.  Without their kind and generous donations we could not have provided the therapeutic support desperately needed by these children.

If you would like to support our mission and future deployments,

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