Urgent Needs of Child Protection Shelters
For a 10-year old girl living in Khokana, an earthquake means “all the houses collapse”. The April 25 quake that rocked the country in the afternoon has left Chnadrakala Maharjan of Okhere, Lalitpur, shaken. Many houses her neighborhood were flattened by the massive quake. Similarly, Rohn Prazapati (6 years old) of the same village witnessed death of his close friend while cycling at the time of earthquake. Now, he is very scared even to see and touch bicycle. For him, “Cycle is a death”.
It will take time before children like Chnadrakala and Rohan come to terms in the aftermath of such devastation. Seeing houses, schools, temples and other structures collapse and seeing death of a close friend and parents at such tender age simply terrorizes them. They continue to need relief assistance in coming several months. On the top of this, they need immediate engagement, proper stimulation and adequate play on a regular basis to stabilize their psychical & mental health as well as psychological and emotional well-being aftermath this disaster.
In the home area of Chnadrakala and Rohan, where 23 people including 7 children lost their lives to the tremor and 450 houses collapsed, are currently staying at temporary shelter in Dhapakhel of Lalitpur district. They are just there and no one has paid any attention to help them feel good and happy. There are over 100 children living in the same village needing quick attention and support and more than 1.7 million children from across the country need long term supply of relief materials as well as psycho-social-emotional support. We have observed that majority of the children in this area are showing abnormal behavior like screaming due to fear, feeling lowliness, maintaining silence, not eating and being lethargic. One of our NCLR teachers, Ms. Asthma Achhami reports that many children seem to have disorientation and attention problems. If they do not get appropriate psycho-social support, safe and secure environment as we have done, they may develop metal disorder such as depression, anxiety and other problems. Disorientation, quick memory loss, attention problems could be immediate effect on children due to trauma in post disaster situation. The metal disorder is like to happen if left un-attended as early as possible. Psychological problems may also been seen after long time – may be after a year as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PDST is among the most common psychiatrist outcomes of exposure to trauma in children. In China and Haiti, there were mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and conduct disorders among children a year after the earthquakes (Sichuan Earthquake – 2008 & 2010 Haiti Earthquake).
ICRI-Nepal has been collecting and distributing relief materials to the victims of earthquake from the 4th day of the earthquake. The relief material package for one family includes 30 kilograms of rice, 5 kilograms of beaten rice, 3 kilograms of lentils, 5 soaps, 2 liters of oil, 5 liters of milk, 100 liters of safe drinking water and dehydrating medicines. We have mainly focused our relief distribution mainly in Balambu, Khokana, Kalaki and Sankhu. With this relief package, we have supported 295 people including 68 children of 73 families. Further on, we are continuously collecting additional relief supplies and sending out to families in other needy areas of Kathmndu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur.
Similarly, aftermath the disaster, we provided orientation to our NCLR teachers about how to tackle and work in this critical situation with families and children. We deployed 3 teachers to their close-by community to help the victims and most importantly be there for children. We also provided learning materials (Please see the list below) to make sure the children are adequately engaged in play, games, dance, art and craft works so that we could bring back smiles on their faces. Ms. Asha Burlakoti, who is a mother of 8 year old son and 4 year old daughter, said that her children seemed active and happy now whereas they seemed lost and passive earlier. Similarly, Sumita Bhattrari’s daughter (9 year old) does not have any fear of earthquake after she was given the play therapy by ICRI-Nepal. Jonny and Karishma has become a good friend due to our teachers. They were strangers earlier though they were living in the same premises.
With the above success, ICRI-Nepal plans to install additional 50 temporary child protection shelters across the country, mostly in Sindhupalchowk, Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Gorkha, Dhading, Kavre, Nuwakot and Dolkha districts. It is estimated that each protection shelter will have around 40 children, totaling 2,000 children in 50 locations. The center will be equipped with indoor/outdoor learning materials, toys and games (Please see the list below). These shelters will be facilitated by a trained local school teacher and/or psychologist so that the immediate needs of the children are responded to the level required. We will provide nutritional food for the children and provide counseling for the parents and the community people. We will collect children from within the community or from temporary group shelters at 10:00 AM and bring them to their parents or relatives at 2 PM. In between, they get nutritional food and engage in various activates such as art and crafts work, games, dance, and reading and writing. The sole purpose is to distract them from incidents happening around and help them overcome the trauma. From our ongoing experiences, we can say that those children, who have been kept in a safe and prospective environment where they feel safe and can express their feeling, will significantly help in reducing trauma. Parents, guardians, teachers and care takers who look after children also need strong support at such times to help meet the mental needs of the children.
UNICEF estimates that around 1.7 million children remain in urgent need of humanitarian-aid in the worst-hit-areas by the earthquake of 25 April 2015. A total of 1.7 million children have been displaced so far and more than 70,000 children are living in temporary shelters/camps in different parts of the country. ICRI-Nepal provides trauma healing services for children 3 locations/areas of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur districts. The purpose of this trauma healing service is to respond to the immediate psycho-socio-emotional needs of children in the areas affected by the disaster. As we all know, children need engagement, stimulation and play on a regular basis to stabilize their psychical & mental health as well as psychological and emotional well-being. So, to meet these needs of the children, ICRI-Nepal kindly requests support for the following childhood development learning materials and funding required in the following 50 locations across the country. It seems that more than 70 percent of the schools in Nepal either completely destroyed or partially damaged. The possibility of these schools reopening soon is highly unlikely. However, the government says that they will build temporary bamboo classrooms in the areas where the schools could not go operating in its current situation. These 50 protection shelters will be run in the needy community until the schools opens and these temporary shelters (services) will be merged into the school system as soon as the schools open.