earthquake

On the Ground in Nepal

RS29211_PJ8A3029

Photo by Jake Lyell. Sindhupalchowk, Nepal. 

Photojournalist Jake Lyell arrived in Nepal three days after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck April 25 and accompanied ChildFund’s emergency relief team as they delivered supplies to devastated communities. Here is his personal experience of this humanitarian crisis. You can see more of his photos here

Parts of Nepal are devastated. I say parts because I expected my plane to land in a rubble-piled wasteland; it didn’t. There was a runway, an immigration officer and a functioning baggage carousel.

Kathmandu’s ancient temples, however, are in ruins. Many multi-storied buildings have toppled down. But the capital city, still in shock, manages to keep pace at least somewhat. I still have the bandwidth to create this blog post, after all.

Upon exiting the Kathmandu valley, things become steadily worse. To the northeast, in Sindhupalchowk District, despite being further away from the epicenter of the earthquake, homes have been flattened. People sit in uncertainty by the side of the highway, while others comb through the wreckage of their former dwellings, searching for food or possessions.

I begin to experience something that I never have felt before — an eerie sixth sense that comes from gaping at grand mountains and pristine rivers juxtaposed with piles of debris and the stench of bodies. Death seems nearer than ever before.

After a long journey, I arrive with ChildFund staff at one of their food distribution points. As the car comes to a stop, Aileen Santiago, the ChildFund Japan emergency worker who has been sitting next to me since we left Kathmandu, bolts out of the vehicle to meet a woman she recognizes. It’s clear that they haven’t seen one another since before the quake hit. Without a word, they embrace as grief paints their faces and the tears come, expressing what I’d been meaning all along but couldn’t quite put into words.

Assistance is arriving to Nepal’s hardest-hit communities. Despite what you may have read, not all food and other resources are held up at roadblocks or customs. ChildFund and other organizations are contributing to the relief effort, and I can attest firsthand to the blessings a contribution toward that work brings.

Good news will come; but for now, we take a moment to grieve.

A Child’s View of Destruction in Nepal

Headlines fly by fast, even when tragedy happens, like the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that occurred in Nepal on April 25. Right now, families like Ayush’s are struggling to get back on their feet after losing their homes, jobs and even loved ones. This video, filmed by Jake Lyell, shows the personal toll the disaster has taken on Ayush’s family, and this was before Sunday’s 7.3-magnitude aftershock, which has taken more lives and destroyed more homes. Please watch this video, share it and give what you can to help ChildFund’s relief efforts in Nepal. Thanks.

You Can Make a Difference in Quake-Stricken Nepal

RS29177_PJ8A2746

A boy walks amid rubble in Nepal’s Sindhupalchowk District, where ChildFund Japan is bringing disaster relief. 

Conditions in Nepal are dire after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake April 25. As of today, the death toll is  more than 7,500 and climbing as assessments continue. The country’s National Emergency Operations Center, operating under its Ministry of Home Affairs, reports that more than 160,000 houses were destroyed, and nearly 144,000 more have been damaged.

ChildFund Japan, our Alliance partner, has worked in Nepal for 20 years and is helping distribute food in four villages in Sindhupalchowk, among the hardest-hit districts. On May 1, ChildFund Japan representatives brought 10 tons of rice, 1.5 tons of dhal (lentils) and salt to more than 10,000 children and family members. Longtime ChildFund freelance photographer and videographer Jake Lyell is documenting damage and relief efforts in Sindhupalchowk and elsewhere.

Jake has been to disaster zones before and says, “On my third day in the field, I can say that the area around where ChildFund works is the worst I’ve seen. It’s more remote, and the damage was very severe. It made our hearts sink.”

Jake’s not mincing words, but we are able to get help to some of the Nepalese families who need it most. Take a look at his pictures (as well as videos), and then donate what you can to help Nepal’s children through ChildFund’s Emergency Action Fund. You can follow our emergency updates, too.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Tsunami and the Years Since

This week, we are marking the 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. The disaster killed approximately 230,000 people in 14 countries on Dec. 26, 2004. At the time, ChildFund had programs in Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka, which all suffered massive losses. This month, the ChildFund Sri Lanka staff asked people to recall their experiences in the tsunami and the years since, and we included their pictures and quotes in this slideshow. In coming days, we’ll have more stories and pictures from Indonesia and India. You can also watch a 2005 video from Sri Lanka.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You Made a Difference in Guatemala

By Mario Lima, National Director, ChildFund Guatemala

mother and children stand in front of rebuilt home

ChildFund Guatemala welcomes a family back home.

Last Nov. 7, Guatemala suffered a strong earthquake. Thanks to the support from ChildFund sponsors and from donors to the ChildAlert Emergency Fund, we were able to bring relief to families and children throughout the affected areas.

ChildFund Guatemala implemented a three-pronged emergency response to support children and their families in the most affected communities:

  • House repair. In our program areas, 553 houses that were damaged by the earthquake were either repaired (429 homes) or reconstructed (124 new homes).
  • Social infrastructure repair. ChildFund also repaired or restored vital social infrastructures such as schools and community-run water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) systems in 25 communities.
  • Psychosocial support. We provided psychosocial support to more than 12,500 affected children for the two months immediately following the earthquake.

According to a traditional Mayan saying: “A good planting means a great harvest.”

Thanks for your support.

Learn more about ChildFund’s programs in Guatemala and how to sponsor a child.

Returning to Joy After Guatemala’s Earthquake

By Mario Lima, ChildFund Guatemala National Director

boys at rubble pile

Children survey ruined homes.

After an event such as a major earthquake, it is very easy to see the dramatic effects of the disaster. Damaged or destroyed homes, collapsed roads, no electricity, no phones; the devastation is a silent witness of what people went through.

man and boy talk

Mario talks with Esdras.

Having experienced a major earthquake as a child, I know there is underlying damage that is not as obvious to the naked eye. The fear, anxiety and the possibility of losing your loved ones, or even your own life, is really scary. Post-traumatic stress disorder can occur after seeing or experiencing a traumatic event that involved the threat of injury or death.

In the aftermath of Guatemala’s earthquake on Nov. 7, ChildFund, through its ChildAlert Emergency Fund, began providing psychosocial support to thousands of children. Our goal was to bring happiness back to children as soon as possible.

The school year is over in Guatemala (it runs from January to October). However, after the earthquake, children are coming back to schools to play and have fun as they address their fears. A group of trained community volunteers, led by ChildFund’s team members, gather to provide children with a day full of fun and learning games.

children playing with hoops on ground

Planned activities help children regain normalcy.

mothers and children

Mothers are welcomed.

Within the space of the familiar community school, we’ve set up a series of workstations designed by a team of five psychologists from ChildFund’s local partners. The stations are designed similarly to stands at local fairs. Children walk through and spend time at each station, experiencing different moments, from telling their own stories during the earthquake, to playing musical instruments to engaging with puppets to discussing a movie to playing logic games.

The ChildFund team had a pleasant but challenging surprise, as the back-to-happiness activities took place. A large group of unanticipated participants came – mothers. They wanted to know how they could further help their children at home. So we opened a new station to teach moms how they could help their own children.

All told, ChildFund is providing psychosocial support in 25 schools reaching more than 12,000 children affected by the earthquake. All these activities have been designed with one objective in mind: kick fear out and invite happiness back!

It’s Scary When the Earth Moves

Reporting by ChildFund Guatemala

On Nov. 7, a 7.4-magnitude earthquake shook the highlands of Guatemala, hitting the communities of San Marcos, Sololá, Huehuetenango and Quetzaltenango especially hard. Thousands were injured, 44 were killed, homes crumbled and power and water services were suspended. Esdras, a 12-year-old boy, who lives in a ChildFund-supported community, recalls the day.

boy at home

Esdras recalls the earthquake

“We just saw that everything was moving around,” says Esdras, who lives with his parents and three siblings in San Andrés Chapil, part of San Marco. When the earthquake occurred, part of his house fell down.

He also recalls a small tragedy: “A hen was getting ready to lay an egg when the earthquake occurred, and she died,” Esdras says.

“I am afraid of another earthquake,” he adds. “I felt every earthquake since the first day. When the strong earthquake hit, my mother and I were here inside the house. We just saw that everything was moving around. I was worried for my family, because there was no phone signal, no water and no power. Many houses near mine fell down, too,” he says.

Boy in kitchen

Esdras in his damaged home.

Because he loves to draw, Esdras dreams of becoming a designer of houses and other buildings. Lately, he’s been drawing objects moving as he thinks about the earthquake and its aftershocks. “I wish that we do not have more earthquakes. They say in the news that there have been almost 200 aftershocks since Nov. 7, and I’m very afraid,” he says.

To support victims of the earthquake like Esdras, ChildFund Guatemala has committed up to US$250,000 to help rebuild the houses of 550 families who lost their homes. In addition, ChildFund plans to provide psychosocial support to more than 12,500 affected children in the Guatemalan states of Sololá, Quetzaltenango and San Marcos.

Post-traumatic stress is one of the most devastating impacts of an earthquake on children. By providing emotional support and safe places to gather and play, ChildFund helps children cope with post-traumatic stress, address their fears and recover the confidence needed to go on with their daily lives.

To assist children like Esdras and their families get back on their feet and rebuild their houses, please consider a donation to the ChildAlert Emergency Fund.

The Big Blue Rug in Haiti

by Jeff Ratcliffe, ChildFund Grants Compliance Coordinator

I just returned from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where I witnessed a magical moment with children.

ChildFund has been supporting partner organizations on the ground in Haiti since shortly after the destructive earthquake in January 2010. The country is working to recover, but the day-to-day reality for children remains harsh. Most children lack safe places to play. In Port-au-Prince, any open spaces are filled with rubble and children must play in concrete lots, often near busy streets.

Photo Haitian children

A surprise is in the air.

As I arrived at our partner’s office, I watched as the children were lined up. Something was up, but they were not sure quite what. As is common for 5- to 8-year-old children, they were restless. Suddenly, the children screamed with delight as two of the instructors emerged from the building carrying a big blue rug. Many of the children began to dance with excitement. The soft blue rug was spread across the hard concrete, creating a space for the children to play. They wasted no time removing shoes and scampering onto the lush carpeting. They could play freely, without thought to getting scraped or bruised. The smiles were almost instant.

Photo of children on rug

A safe and comforting place to play.

From an Early Childhood Development perspective, the rug provided three benefits:

  1. It was soft and inviting—a comforting factor.
  2. It offered a defined space that made children feel safe to relax and be themselves.
  3. It provided a bright color that made the children happy and cheerful.
Photo of children playing on rug

The bright blue color is instantly appealing to children.

The ecstatic reaction to this rug reminded me again of the importance of play in a child’s life. Playing freely without fear of being harmed is important to healthy child development.

For me, the big blue rug reinforced the importance of ChildFund’s work with our partners in Haiti. I was heartened that amidst all the post-reconstruction work we’re helping fund, we’re also supporting the equally important work of helping children play again.

Haiti: Life Interrupted, yet Hardships Met with Tenacity

Guest post by Annie LePere

Annie LePere completed her master’s of public health while working for the Child Sponsorship department of ChildFund International. She was a community educator for the Sexual Assault Response Program in Lynchburg, Va., for three years before leaving to be a full-time mother. She recently returned from a volunteer mission trip to Haiti.

We were sitting under a mango tree when a young girl came by carrying a five-gallon bucket. She walked over to the community well and filled it. Balancing the full bucket on top of her head with one hand, she walked away. Then she came back and did it again. The third time she came back, we jumped in to help.

I was in Grand Goave, Haiti, about 10 miles from the epicenter of the massive earthquake that struck in January. I had joined a medical mission team from Bedford, Va., to use my background in community health and past experience working at ChildFund.

Rubble and trash still litter the streets, bridges are still impassable and tents are still up as far as the eye can see. In a country familiar with disasters, the earthquake has become another speed bump on the road to progress. People walk around the piles of rubble, trucks drive through the river and families have turned their tents into homes.

Baby Woodley and his aunt.

Yet, sadly, for many children living in Haiti, childhood has been lost. It was lost for the 8-year-old girl carrying water. It was lost for the 16-year-old young mother bringing her toddler to our clinic. It was lost for baby Woodley, a 4-day-old infant who had nothing to drink but water because his mother was unable to care for him.

Despite all of these hardships, it’s hard to break the spirit of a child and we found evidence of that spirit. It was there in the toddlers waving and shouting “ay oo!” as our truck drove by. It was there in the group of boys playing soccer. It was there in the teenage girl studying chemistry and planning to become a doctor. Schools were meeting in tents, under trees or in a room with three walls. At night, dedicated children would do their homework under the light of a solar-powered streetlight.

The biggest need identified by the mission was sanitation. With no running water other than a community well and people living on every available patch of land, families have to work hard to stay healthy. My background is in violence prevention, not sanitation. But I knew that ChildFund has an excellent track record in this area so I called for help.

Annie demonstrates with glitter how germs are passed.

Thus, I arrived in Haiti with an instruction manual for implementing the WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) program developed to help community educators teach their peers how to treat and protect water. I had planned to teach some basic information about hand washing and walk the medical coordinator through the program to implement at a later date. But the day before I arrived, a cholera outbreak was identified. With this threat looming, I became the community educator. I was asked first thing on a Monday morning to speak to school children, and throughout the week I gave classes to parents.

A child learns about hand washing.

Without the WASH materials, I would have been unprepared. As it turns out, the way to prevent cholera is to use the WASH techniques. Cholera is a scary disease, and every Haitian I spoke with was scared. But it can be prevented by treating and protecting the water supply and by washing hands. As of the mid-November, there were no cases of cholera reported from Grand Goave. So far, this area appears to have survived another challenge.

In teaching school children about hand washing, I played a game with them to show how germs spread. I filled my hand with glitter, touched a few children and had them touch their friends. At the end of the exercise we were all covered in sparkles.

Now back home in Virginia, I recently picked up my dusty backpack from the trip and was showered with glitter. I haven’t cleaned it up yet because it reminds me of the tenacity of the Haitian people. And it reminds me of hope that can be found in disaster — hope that springs from baby Woodley and his mom, who are now in the care of an aunt and, at last report, are progressing.

ChildFund Contributions Continue to Aid Haitian Children

More than eight months after an earthquake devastated Haiti, ChildFund’s support for the country’s most vulnerable children continues apace.

In our work through CBM and the Centre d’Education Speciale (CES), we are seeing signs of progress as children return to school and families adapt new routines. Much work remains amid Haiti’s decimated infrastructure.

Yet, there are bright spots. Day care centers for children with injuries and disabilities are operating in six hard-hit areas around Port-Au-Prince. Children attending the centers now have access to therapy, follow-up care and referrals to other health professionals when needed.

Continuing care is especially important for children with epilepsy to ensure regular access to medication. Since last March, a pediatrician and a neurologist have visited one of the centers once a week. Since May a speech therapist has been available twice a week.

Lovely and her mother Evna

In addition, CES has been able to open its doors to other children without disabilities yet in need of a safe haven. Six-year-old Lovely was a student of the College Mixte Evangelique d’Haiti, which collapsed during the earthquake. She lost many friends.

Lovely’s mother Evna reports that her daughter has made academic progress at the CES center despite the sad circumstances following the earthquake. During those terrifying moments, Evna and Lovely ran out of the house and spent all day in the street.

Lovely’s father used to have a little shop, but all of his merchandise was stolen after the quake. Evna, who had worked as a street vendor, had to stop her commerce activities and devote all of her time to taking care of her three children.

The opening of the child center has provided a safe place for the children to play and learn while Evna and her husband find work and earn money for food and necessities.

It is a hard existence but Lovely and her family have hope for better days.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 937 other subscribers

ChildFund
Follow me on Twitter