The last few months have been difficult for all of us. Most of us aren’t accustomed to the uncertainty and lack of control we’ve experienced. Imagine what it feels like for children, especially children who have already overcome traumatic experiences. We’re committed to healthy, happy kids even during times of stress. This week, we’re hearing from our mental health program coordinator, Ana-Maria.
Describe your work at Dorie’s Promise.
I am in charge of our kids’ mental health, which takes into account a broad spectrum of aspects and approaches. Primarily, I focus on promoting a healthy mental lifestyle, preventive psychological care, and curing or alleviating current suffering and disorders. Our goal is to restore a balanced mind and empower our children to face their complex childhood with ample resources.
How has your work changed during the pandemic?
The covid-19 pandemic has changed everyone´s life all over the world and mental health issues have become very important. When life changes so radically, from complete freedom to staying at home for months, maintaining social distance, and attending school at home, we begin to question what else might happen to us. Many people fear becoming sick and even dying. As anxiety and uncertainty increases, existing psychological disorders became more obvious. Restrictions can disrupt the balance and peaceful climate many people need. Our team of psychologists and social workers are most needed to help the children maintain equilibrium, hope, healthy work habits, cooperation, and happiness.
What are your specific concerns for the kids during this time?
We see regressions of some children’s positive psychological advances. The loss of social interactions causes sadness and confusion. Our children miss visits with their local friends and family, as well as the missionaries’ periodic presence and loving interaction. For some, their past feelings of abandonment are revived, making them more vulnerable to both physical and mental sickness.
But, on the other hand, we see their resilience.
Have you noticed benefits from the changes and restrictions?
Our team promotes healthy lifestyles and values such as cooperation, gratitude, and participating in household duties. The kids have more opportunities now to balance school and other activities than before. Being at home, they are able to sleep later, be less rushed in the morning, and avoid traveling through the busy city for school each day. The climate at Dorie’s Promise is more peaceful, giving our children more time to reflect, pray, and play.
Although unfortunate, this situation is helping our children be more aware of life’s uncertainties. They are beginning to better appreciate values like collaboration, gratitude, and self-esteem and how they can be practiced more easily at home.
How do our kids start transitioning back to normal activities?
We need to plan their return carefully because we don´t know what kind of “normal” life it will be. Homeschooling will probably be part of our necessary transition and could be beneficial for some children. Then, we must continue learning how to socialize in a new world with restrictions. As a team, we will need to create a robust program to teach both our children and staff how to move forward. Especially for our older children, these events will affect their future vocational training and job opportunities. Meeting with them and helping them adjust their individual life plans will be important.
We appreciate the support we receive, the sense of not being alone, and knowing people care for us and the kids. The health program, led by Doc Castro is making a difference. Everyone is doing a great job, sacrificing as the moment demands. The staff’s hope and enthusiasm is expressed through their daily work and efforts to help our kids be happy, occupied, learning, and healthy.