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Month: May 2015

Helping children cope

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Since the earthquake, things may feel different, scary or strange. You may find yourself reacting strongly to things that did not bother you before, like loud noises or sudden movements. You may find that you feel anxious, have no energy, experience nightmares, or are scared to fall asleep. Or that your moods are not following the same patterns as before.

After a major traumatic event, such as the April 25th earthquake or the May 12th aftershock, it is normal for many people to have such reactions. It is also normal not to have such reactions.

When adults are challenged to understand the situation, you can imagine that many kids are struggling to make sense of it too. Lots of kids might be asking these questions after such disasters.

“What is happening?”
“Do other kids think and feel the same?”
“What will happen to me if something happens to my parents or siblings?”
“How long will these feelings last?”
“Will I be okay? Am I safe now?”
“Who can I talk to about my feelings?”
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6 ways to help

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Since the first big earthquake struck on April 25th, our lives have been unpredictable and fluid. In the initial days some from our team were responding to crisis at home and those of us lucky enough that our homes and families did not need immediate care began to act. First we provided basic relief to a few villages that we were connected with. By the 5th day, our attention began to switch from immediate relief to longer term needs such as shock/trauma interventions,  re-opening of schools and educating kids in the camps.

 

dhararabeforeafterOver the last two weeks our team worked with over 170 kids at 3 different camps in the Kathmandu Valley. As the camps began to dwindle a few days ago (only to fill up again after the big aftershock on 12th May) we shut down our camp programs and put more energy into our back to school program. Working with other educators and psychologists we created “First-Day-Back,” a 1 – 3 day package of lesson plans that teachers can use to help their students readjust to being back at school.

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Facilitating teachers: First week of school

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On May 10, we shared our experience we had gathered in the past 12 days with 37 teachers from Excelsior school. We talked about how the kids in the temporary camps responded to our engagement classes and shared insights on how we could improve their learning experience. We had designed a 3 hour session in collaboration with psychologist, Rachana Pandey and some experienced teachers: Safala Rajbhandari, Sarita Bhattarai, Bilquees Banu and Kausalya Khadka. The session was focussed on how the first week of school should look like when schools resume. There were two objectives of the session:

  1. To allow and encourage teachers to express their own feelings and emotions during and after the earthquake
  2. To enable teachers to plan the first week of their classes

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“First day back” trial class

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We have been getting a lot of help from teachers, psychologists, educators and volunteers in designing a post-earthquake lesson plan for schools.  Educators Sarita Bhattarai, Safala Rajbhandari, Bilquees Banu and Kausalya Khadka along with Karkhana teachers Roshan Bhatta and Sunoj Shrestha conducted a trial class for 16 kids from the Salyani Durbar camp.

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Learning continues (II)

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There has been a lot of media coverage on the temporary camps in different areas around Kathmandu. We had been planning to run engagement workshop for the kids there but we were surprised to come across one very close to Karkhana at Salyani Durbar. There were around 15 families living there who are now staying in the temporary tents after the old building collapsed.

We have been teaching 17 kids from ages 6 to 14. Karkhana teacher Roshan noticed that most of the kids enjoyed Math challenges and decided to focus on geometry and fun Math tricks.

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The Learning continues

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The Karkhana team is safe and the worst is probably over. The relief efforts being made by various organizations as well as locals is laudable.

We wanted to contribute our part as concerned citizens. Ashim and Sachet volunteered for some organizations but were disappointed with the management team. Everything was disorganized and chaotic. Sakar, Rajib and Sunoj went to Kavre to assess what the actual needs of the people were and how we could help them. They realized that people like us without any specialized skills (like first aid, sanitation, structural engineering, veterinary doctors, nurses, paramedics) were of not much help. That made us think how we could contribute. Why not do something that we are already good at? Teach.

While most of the efforts are being spent on providing the basics to those affected by the disaster, providing medical care to the injured and rescuing people, some of us should also think about how children cope with these situations, address issues like sanitation that the kids need to be aware of and provide outlets for them to express their feelings. Lets combine our efforts to create a fun learning experience for kids.

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