The festive season is a time when we come together to celebrate with our loved ones.
But while we are counting our blessings, there will be children who are suffering, their lives torn apart by emergencies such as the Rohingya refugee crisis in Myanmar or the recent earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia.
After the immediate emergency response, the crisis doesn’t end for children. Often, they find themselves in desperate circumstances, cold and at risk of hunger, disease and violence.
When disasters strike, families and communities can lose everything, leaving children vulnerable and struggling to survive.
These children have already lost so much, they shouldn’t have to lose their childhood too.
On 28 September 2018, an earthquake measuring 7.4 on the Richter scale struck central Sulawesi in Indonesia. This was followed by a tsunami that devastated the west coast.
The natural disasters have reportedly killed 2,088 people and displaced 78,994 others, who are spread over 110 different evacuation centres. Access to basic services and necessities is a challenge, and children and their families have limited access to electricity, water and sanitation services.
ChildFund is assisting the emergency response to make sure children have enough clean water, food, blankets, and tents. Our other primary concerns are making sure they are able to resume their schooling and access psychosocial support as soon as possible.
Cambodia, Laos and India
Flooding in rural Cambodia hits the disadvantaged families the hardest.
Saroeun and her husband (pictured above) rely on construction work to provide for their five children, aged 17 to seven.
Two months of flooding has put their work on hold, forced their children out of school and made it hard to put food on the table.
“This year’s flood, it’s difficult to find food – even fish,” she says.
“My construction work was paused. My husband needs to walk far to find fish. I pick some morning glory around house to sell.
“I can earn only around US$2.5 a day. It’s so hard for us to live.”
Every year the monsoon season arrives in Cambodia and it impacts families like Saroeun’s who live in tiny riverside villages. Normally, flooding lasts three weeks, but this year it has lasted two months and still has not subsided.
Floodwaters have cut many communities off from health centres, clean water, homes and schools.
The lack of clean water and medical care has increased the risk of infectious disease, while floodwaters also bring a greater risk of snakes and malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
Many parents have been unable to work and children have not been able to go to school.
Fortunately, ChildFund’s Project Humanity partners are helping to ensure children and families get the help they need.
Around 200 families received emergency packs that includes 50kg of rice, water containers, soap, food and living supplies.
A Child-Friendly Space has been established, and village volunteers trained, so that children have a safe space where they can play and continue their education while schools are closed, and have access to safe drinking water, books, colouring paper, pencils, toys, games and snacks for children.
Temporary toilets have also been provided and local officials have received fuel for boats, generators and motorbikes so they can reach and support the most remote families.