Healing through Arts

November of 2015, iE Philippines organized an Appreciative Artherapy Workshop with 30 children from the Indigenous community in Kapalong, Davao del Norte who are currently encamped in a refugee site in the city of Davao, Philippines. The workshop was the first of a series of sessions aimed at providing a space for children from four Indigenous communities in Kapalong, Talaingod, San Fernando and Kitaotao to express their visions of a safe community.

Currently, there are about 900 tribal people, mostly from the Manobo tribe in Davao del Norte and Bukidnon, seeking refuge in a sanctuary within the city because of increasing un-peace and injustice in their lands. These waves of migration began May of this year but, historically, the struggle in their ancestral domains dates back to the 1990's when extractive companies started to encroach into their domains. Many of those who were affected by the violence were women and children.

The workshop was developed through several conversations with the Indigenous leaders of the communities and the Psychosocial team working with these communities. The session gave the children an opportunity to share good cultural experiences in the past, and create a shared positive experience with others in their tribe in the present.

By visualizing community experiences in which they felt they were most peaceful and culturally thriving, the kids were able to creatively tap into their past and determine spaces in their communities where they are enriched. These images also gave life to their collective vision of hope for their future.