M’Lop Tapang’s Counselling Room is filled with all kinds of toys, games, puppets and arts supplies. These kinds of items are often used by our trained counselors as tools in helping troubled children communicate and express their feelings.

Six months ago, 7-year-old Dara* was referred to our counsellor by one of the teachers.  Dara was new to M’Lop Tapang, but the teacher was concerned. The young boy, who usually came to class in the same dirty clothes day after day, always seemed to want to sit by himself away from others, seemed almost afraid to talk to the teacher, never wanted to speak in class, and even at break time never joined other children in playing games.  We knew from our social workers that Dara came from a rough home life: the family was extremely poor, he had never been to school before, and both his father and stepmother had problems with drugs and gambling.

Our designated counselor started meeting with Dara regularly, sometime for one-to-one sessions and sometimes in small group settings. During the one-to-one sessions, the use of toys was particularly helpful in working on Dara’s communication and interaction skills.  Happily, we started to see some real progress after about two months; Dara started to become more talkative and much less shy.  The counselling team made sure to collaborate with the social work and education staff to reinforce actions that were working.

Nowadays, even though education classes are still suspended due to Covid-19, Dara is one of about 150 children attending daily daytime activities at our Center for social services, nutritional support, and hygiene and medical care.  He has changed so much since we first met him just six months ago!  He smiles more, is always one of the first to say hello to the teachers and other staff when he arrives from home, and has made a small group of friends that he enjoys playing football with.  He has made such progress in a short time and can’t wait to see him shine even more in the months ahead when education classes resume soon.

*name changed for confidentiality