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  • UP Students Transform Transition Home for Child Abuse Victims into a Space to Heal

    The students wanted to create a warm, welcoming space where children would feel safe and secure.
    by Kitty Elicay .
UP Students Transform Transition Home for Child Abuse Victims into a Space to Heal
PHOTO BY courtesy of UP BS Interior Design Class of 2019
  • After a long, tiring day, don’t you look forward to coming home? In today’s frenzied world, your home is where you can rest and recharge to have the energy to face another day. For children, their home is their safe space — an environment where they feel comforted, happy, and loved by their family.

    It's this idea of a what safe space can at least feel like is what the University of the Philippines-Diliman Interior Design (UPBSID) graduating batch of 2019 envisioned for their project, “Hilom: Rebuilding Spaces, Rebuilding Lives.”

    Since 2001, graduating students who take up the course ID 179: Special Projects in Interior Design are tasked to rehabilitate the facility of a chosen government or non-government institution so they can experience what it’s like to handle a renovation project from planning, conceptualization, and execution.

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    Speaking with SmartParenting.com.phJazmine Jim, UPBSID’s batch project head, says, “Previous batches have redesigned a home for PWD (persons with disability) college students, community centers for the hearing impaired, and the like, but we, the class of 2019, wanted to help an institution that aids those with mental health issues.”

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    This year’s beneficiary is End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT). Its transition home in Quezon City is where children, who are victims of sexual abuse and exploitation, undergo physical, emotional, and psychological healing.

    “The moment we learned about EPCAT and what it does for child victims of sexual exploitation, we instantly decided to choose it as our beneficiary. It was a strong unanimous decision,” adds Danielle Nicole Yatco, one of UPBSID’s assistant batch project heads.

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    Rebuilding the transition home

    ECPAT Philippines' new counseling room 
    PHOTO BY courtesy of UP BS Interior Design Class of 2019
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    The project started in August 2018 including conceptualization and raising funds for the renovation. “We visited ECPAT and got to observe the space and how the children used it. But the insights and the [children’s] needs were drawn from interviews with the social workers and house parents," says Jazmine.

    One of the first things they noticed was the state of the shelter’s interiors. From the photos alone, the place looked dark and gloomy, and it didn't look like it would help a child’s healing process.

    Inspired by the words, “Hilom” and “Salubong,” the 39 graduating students of UPBSID aimed for a concept that would get the children back on their feet after the trauma that they’ve been through.

    “In the midst of the child’s healing process, salubong is meeting them halfway and continuing the journey together. It’s a celebration of their breaking from the depth of darkness, an anticipation of a new day when they’ll come full circle,” explains Pau Castillo, UPBSID assistant batch project head.

    The students wanted to evoke the warmth of a family home, so they used pastel hues, from light blue to soft yellow and lilac. They also wanted a welcoming vibe, which is why they incorporated flora and fauna to suggest a comforting feeling of security and acceptance, according to Pam.

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    Creating a space for healing

    The class of 2019 renovated the reception and living area, the kitchen and dining area, the dirty kitchen and laundry area, the transition spaces like the stairs and hallway, ground floor toilet and bath, the prayer room, counseling room, and two bedrooms with its own bathrooms. They also added a powder room.

    “One of the girls sat on the floor of the bedroom and said, ‘Ate, ayoko na umalis dito, mukha ng hotel ito — hindi na ‘to bahay.”

    Reception and living area

    What a difference color can make!
    PHOTO BY courtesy of UP BS ID Class of 2019
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    The students utilized the space well by creating cozy nooks with storage spaces underneath.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of UP BS Interior Design Class of 2019
    Kitchen and dining area

     

    The original layout of this space had the dining space in the kitchen. After the redesign, the students created a separate area for dining.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of UP BS Interior Design Class of 2019
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    Both Jasmine and Pau shared the kitchen/dining probably had the most dramatic transformation in terms of renovation. They brought down a wall that separated the reception area and kitchen and replaced it with wooden slats that served as a division and allowed proper cross ventilation. "It was a stand out in a sense since it took away that 'kulob' feeling," shares Pau.

    The kitchen now even has a small island counter with bar stools. 
    PHOTO BY courtesy of UP BS Interior Design Class of 2019
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    Dirty kitchen and laundry area

    Even the dirty kitchen and laundry area benefited from the bright splashes of flora.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of UP BS Interior Design 2019

    When the students first visited, the students found the dirty kitchen and laundry area problematic. The roof was leaking, and it looked very dim and gloomy, according to Jazmine. "The redesign of the space transformed it into a much livelier and spacious area. I hope the children will be more energized and excited to volunteer to do the chores now," she says.

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    Bedroom

    The students updated the old bunk beds and added storage bins underneath for the children's things. Laundry baskets encourage kids to clean up after themselves.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of UP BS Interior Design Class of 2019
    Even bathroom breaks (and showers!) will be enjoyable for the kids.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of UP BS Interior Design Class of 2019
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    A second chance for the children

    Even the stairs offer hope for healing and moving on. Part of it reads, "Maghihilom din ang lahat."
    PHOTO BY courtesy of UP BS Interior Design Class of 2019

    Construction and procurement took three months, starting in October 2018. The batch did a soft turnover in December 2018 where they invited their generous sponsors to witness the ceremony and to see the reactions of the children and house parents once their new home was finally revealed.

    To say that it was an emotional moment for all involved was an understatement.

    “We blindfolded the girls before they entered their new home. When they removed the blindfolds, they couldn’t believe what they saw. There were tears of joy as they eagerly ran around the areas. They were especially ecstatic about the bedrooms,” shares Pau.

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    Pau adds that laughter and tears from both the children and the graduating students filled the home that day. "After the tour, the girls prepared a heartfelt programme for us, expressing their deepest gratitude. They were very much excited to move in and make new memories in their new home."

     

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