Help for traumatised children and young people

Educational Emergency Disaster Preparedness Seminar in South America

Floods, earthquakes, guerilla warfare, civil wars and living in severe poverty are some of the reasons why in South American countries children are repeatedly severely traumatised. Many sufferers lose their inner balance and fall ill as a result of trauma-related disorders. As in many regions of the world there are also not enough psychologists and therapists in many South American countries who can work with children and young people who have been exposed to trauma. Since 2011 the Friends of Waldorf Education have therefore been training South American educators and therapists in the methods of emergency education so that they can quickly take action of their own accord in crises and disasters. In order to link the individual emergency education groups in a bilateral network, representatives from Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile and Peru are now meeting in Colombia.

The Emergency Pedagogy of Friends of Waldorf Education supports traumatised children, young people and parents after war events or natural disasters with educational and therapeutic methods on the basis of the Waldorf education system. It aims to stabilise children and adolescents from the psychosocial perspective, support them with processing what they have experienced and stimulate their self-healing powers. For example, experiential learning exercises help to strengthen confidence in oneself and one's fellow human beings. Motoric play serves to resolve shock-like paralysis. Non-verbal offerings such as painting or art therapy give the children the opportunity to express and process their traumatic experiences and distance themselves from what they have experienced.

The overriding objective of disaster preparedness is to train teams worldwide who can work locally to stabilise children and adolescents who have been traumatised by natural disasters or armed conflicts. To prevent children and young people from experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder after traumatic events, it is important to stimulate their self-healing powers as early as possible. If local teachers, kindergarten teachers and social workers are trained in emergency and trauma education, they can act immediately within the limits of the opportunities open to them.

The education and training project for South American groups in emergency education has been in existence since 2011. In order to pre-emptively prepare people in crisis-ridden regions on how to deal with traumatised children in schools, children's centres and kindergartens, disaster preparedness seminars have been introduced. Since then, regular seminars have been held in different countries (Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Chile.) Now it is time to bring the groups together and establish a network which extends beyond the borders of the individual countries. The different knowledge and experience of the individual teachers and therapists should be shared between them, while working groups should exchange their results and be mutually supportive.

The focus of the seminar in Colombia is psychotraumatology: what happens in the body after a trauma and how can we respond to it? How does trauma affect development and what can be done during the different stages of development? The emergency educational groups should be supported, should work independently and autonomously over the course of time and in the case of a local disaster should be able to provide rapid psychosocial assistance. Furthermore, structures should be developed which enable the various groups to exchange ideas and support each other. For this purpose, specific scenarios should be formulated concerning how an emergency educational team might be organised and composed.


Freunde der Erziehungskunst Rudolf Steiners e.V. ("Friends of Rudolf Steiner Education Association")

The Friends of Waldorf Education have been supporting Waldorf schools, kindergartens, orthopaedagogic institutions and social projects worldwide since 1976. By collecting donations and transferring these abroad in full, it has been possible to fund more than 600 projects up to now.

Since 2006 the Friends of Waldorf Education have been working in the field of emergency education, which aims at the psychosocial stabilisation of traumatised children and young people in war and disaster areas. Since 2011 the Friends of Waldorf Education have been developing educational emergency teams worldwide which operate independently in the case of disasters, but also participate in deployments of the Friends of Waldorf Education. For example, the group from Chile took action after the major fire in Valparaiso and carried out emergency pedagogical missions. As a result of armed conflicts and natural disasters, the Friends of Waldorf Education have so far worked with psycho-traumatised children and young people in Lebanon (2006), Gaza (2009 - 2014), Haiti (2010), Japan (2011), Kenya (2012 - 2014), the Philippines (2013-2015) and in Kurdistan-Iraq (2013-2015), among other places.

What are the funds of the MAHLE FOUNDATION specifically used for?

The funds of the MAHLE FOUNDATION are used for the airfares, accommodation and subsistence of the training participants from the various South American countries.