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Quake affected villagers get counseling

Priests try to ease fears of traumatized victims of disaster reporter, Thiri

April 19, 2011

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Priests from Kengtung diocese are reaching out to traumatized villagers in Shan State to help ease their fears following a major earthquake there last month.

Father Stephen Arno, director of Karuna Kengtung Social Services, said the priests are talking to quake victims and getting them to express their feelings and experiences. Meanwhile, Karuna has invited villagers near Thiri parish to watch television every night and arrange football matches to ease their traumas, Father Arno said. People, especially youths, are also being encouraged to sleep in the Church compound. There are still aftershocks following the March 24 quake and most villagers will not sleep in their homes out of fear their houses will collapse on them if another earthquake occurs, the priest explained. Daw Ar Be, 76, a Baptist from Puholian, Shan state said she had never experience an earthquake like that before. She said the village is in a remote area and only Karuna has offered any help. “I do really thank Karuna for the food, thatch our roofs and for listening to our problems and offering encouraging words,” Daw Be said. U Philip 40, from Thiri, said despite Karuna Kyaing Tong Social Services putting up temporary shelters he can’t sleep at night in case another quake strikes. “I do really thank the priest for his regular visits and encouraging words. Going to the movie shows and meeting fellow villagers every night is helping to ease fears,” he said. Fr. Arno said Karuna is planning to invite all earthquake victims in the area to an Easter celebration which will include games and other forms of entertainment. The latest casualty figures following the 6.8 magnitude quake are 74 dead and 125 injured.
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