Manila Trauma Training Benefits the Vulnerable

By Walt Walkowski, ER Global Impact Coordinator

(May 23, 2019)

How do you help a child learn when that child is dealing with the trauma of being abandoned by his parents? How do you help a woman with livelihood training when she is struggling with homelessness?

Sadly, abandonment, abuse, hunger, thirst, shelter, deaths, typhoons, fires, flooding, earthquakes and disease are prominent traumas faced by the vulnerable people of the Philippines. Because ER and our partners operate programs designed to help people lift themselves out of poverty and oppression, we know we also must help people navigate a range of trauma.

ER decided to help our Asia staff, as well as our local partners, by offering a special one-day Trauma Training on May 17. Forty-five people, representing eight different organizations, attended. Funding for this event was generously provided by donors.

Dr. Annabel Manalo, associate professor in the Counseling Department at the Asian Theological Seminary, led the workshop, called Emotional First Aid. Her topics included understanding trauma, signs of trauma, trauma care and providing support.

The workshop proved to be a powerful time for participants because it spoke directly to the things they were experiencing in their work. “This workshop has been very helpful,” said Junie Antinero, director of ER partner Seed of Love, a shelter for children and families of children who are being treated for cancer. “The symptoms we learned and discussed are exactly what we are seeing.”

“We see a lot of trauma among the kids,” added Shane Bravo, who serves with Campus Youth of Destiny. “[The training was useful because] they often don’t know how to deal with their issues.”

Dr. Manalo explained that the best way to help those who are dealing with trauma is to be attentive to them. She used three labels to aid participants in remembering what to do: look, listen and link arms. Look has to do with noticing if a person’s behavior or actions seem out of sorts with their situation. Listen means to open yourself up to hearing the person’s story of trauma, including the emotions that come with that trauma. Link Arms refers to coming alongside the person dealing with trauma to walk through the process of moving beyond and healing from the crisis event.

Workshop participants shared case studies from their respective experiences so the group could discuss them and receive insights from Dr. Manalo. Participants also had the opportunity to talk about their own trauma, and in that respect the training also served to help bring healing to hurting workers.

“I feel so encouraged after this event,” said Josephine Waring of ER partner Youth Mobilization. “I know more about how to help the people I serve, but I also feel like I have been helped today as well.”

The leveraged value gained through this training extends way beyond the 45 participants. Partner organizations attending the training work with hundreds of women and children.

Get involved with future trauma training. Contact Walt at