[3 October 2017] Smart recently treated kids of Marawi to a special leg of the storytelling caravan it has brought all over the country.
Eleven-year-old Aman Binasing is among the thousands of people displaced by the armed conflict in Marawi. For months he has dealt with the challenges of living in an evacuation center. But for one day, he was able to leave his worries behind and enter an amazing world where magical hats can fly and where laundry women can possess superpowers.
PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications recently treated Aman and dozens of children like him to a special leg of the storytelling caravan it has brought all over the country. The storytelling session, held at the Philippine Army headquarters in Taguig, was part of daylong activities prepared by the MVP group of companies for kids of Marawi.
The children, aged five to 13, listened in rapt attention to stories narrated by Rey Bufi of the Storytelling Project and employee volunteers of Ericsson Philippines. The kids also volunteered to act as characters in a story, and participated actively in dance exercises and games, where some of them got story books as prizes. “I enjoyed the stories the most,” Aman said.
Smart community partnerships head Darwin Flores explained the value of storytelling for children in conflict situations. “This practice encourages children to let their imagination run free and create a world of their own. Stories help them go beyond the confines of their present situation. They can create love and joy in their own stories,” he said.
A United Nations paper on children and armed conflict states that “Music, drawing and painting, creative writing, storytelling, drama, sports and team play all provide important ways ‘back to the self.’” The paper explains that these activities help children connect with others and express feelings about experiences on their own terms.
According to education experts, storytelling also expands children’s vocabulary, teaches values, and makes learning more fun.
Thirteen-year-old Cairanie Camar said she enjoyed listening to the stories. She added that back home, she would read books after finishing her household chores. “I like learning new things,” she said.
Smart public affairs senior manager Stephanie Orlino said that aside from encouraging love for stories and reading among Filipino children, Smart is also trying to inspire adults to tell stories to the children in their lives.
“Adults can use new technologies such as mobile devices and the internet to make story time more fun for kids. They can look for stories online, and look for images that could help children better understand the stories. These are just some of the ways by which technology can help adults connect more deeply with the youth,” she said.
Smart has so far brought the storytelling caravan to Baguio, Manila, Bulacan, Batangas, Laguna, Cavite, Dumaguete, Bacolod, Davao, Saranggani, Cebu, Siargao, and Sorsogon. The sessions have been attended by hundreds of students. The caravan will be brought to more areas in the coming months.