Focus on children traumatised by long sufferings

Focus on children traumatised by long sufferings

The children of flood effected area arrives for takes shellter at the relief camp at Govt School Chennara, Tirur sub district in Kerala on Tuesday 21st August 2018. Photo by Janardhan BK

Traumatised by unprecedented sufferings due to floods and landslides, thousands of children have remained in relief camps across Kerala's Kozhikode and Wayanad districts.

Now, as the camps are being wound up, relief workers want the focus back on these children and how to get them back in shape quickly.

In Wayanad district, where the normal lives of over 20,000 children were turned upside down by floods and landslides, schools will reopen with the first four days devoted to counselling and entertainment programmes.

“These children have gone through severe trauma, tensions and are mentally disturbed. I have instructed all schools to motivate them before beginning regular classes,” the district's Deputy Director of Education, K Prabhakaran told DH.

Among the worst affected, a school building in Kuruchiramala had collapsed. Classes are now being arranged in a nearby Madrasa, where a private firm has donated benches and desks. Rains had washed away an approach road bridge to another school. The same firm has proposed to build a temporary bridge.

In Kozhikode district, the official machinery has begun a psycho-social assessment of the disaster victims. Preparations are on to organise counselling sessions and creative workshops for the affected children, as environmentalist and relief coordinator Gopinath Parayil informs.

Relief work, he notes, could now focus on these areas of rehabilitation. “Drawing and painting workshops are being arranged to help these children brighten up. Perhaps, NGOs can send art material and their expertise, based on ground-level feedback and requirements.”

Meanwhile, poor understanding of the actual relief requirements on the ground has led to tonnes of material being piled up unused across Kerala. Volunteers too had turned up in hundreds. “We had to turn away so many of them since they had come without tracking what we require,” recalls Gopinath.

Frustrated by these good-intentioned but poorly-planned efforts, he had put up a Facebook post that read: “If you are someone who genuinely wants to help us in Kerala, please check on people you know here about what help we need before you move.”

The post said although many of the flood victims are still in relief camps, “some of us have started checking on our houses. It breaks our heart to see what we see, after a week of deluge. But we aren’t broken. We know you will not allow us to break.”

Echoing the sentiments of many victims, Gopinath appealed to all to contribute financially by visiting Kerala once the tourism season kickstarts. “Your spending as a tourist will help us recover our Rs 28,000 crore tourism business, which is in shambles, that otherwise provide job to millions of people. Let’s rebuild the local economy together.”