Colouring therapy for traumatized children in Marawi

Deborah Froese
June 30, 2017
Mennonite Church Canada
Colouring books
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Continued violence in Marawi City, Philippines, is traumatizing children, say Dann and Joji Pantoja of PeaceBuilders Community Inc. (PBCI).

In May, a conflict erupted between Philippine government security forces and militant Islamist groups. Since then waves of unspeakable destruction and violence have continued, internally displacing 300,000 people, according to news reports. Marawi is the capital city of the Lanao del Sur province in Philippines.

To help start the healing process for children, PBCI will distribute 5,000 colouring books designed with therapeutic elements.

A number of years ago, Joji Pantoja worked with Philippine graphic artist Kublai Ponce-Millan to create a unique set of three colouring books that focus on themes of peace, love, and happiness. The intention: to help children and adults cope with trauma and loss resulting from continued violence and a number of weather disasters. The illustrations were developed with a family-friendly focus, incorporating interfaith values and cultural-sensitivity. Through the process of colouring, users could mediate and reclaim a positive outlook.

“We have been using these coloring books for the past eight years as our major set of materials for psycho-social debriefing among war-traumatized children in Mindanao,” Dann Pantoja writes. “As a result, children learn the basic values needed in a culture of peace.

“When in the context of an evacuation center, children can be gathered for a daily coloring class with a trained PAR [Peace and Reconciliation] Facilitator for Children overseeing the program. When in the context of a home-based evacuees, a PAR Facilitator for Children may give a brief orientation to the parents to gather the children on their own for a coloring session.”

For more information on the Marawi Crisis and Peacebuilder Community’s response, see

To support the important peace ministry of Dann and Joji Pantoja, see

Photo Credits: 
Deborah Froese