Stories

Teen survivor recalls cries of pain in Laos flood

Seventeen-year-old Khied (pictured above) remembers the haunting sound of people crying in pain after a devastating flood destroyed her village this year.

The teen from Attapeu Province, in southern Laos, was getting ready for bed when everything suddenly turned dark and water came gushing into the house.

“I heard a sound like wind and the power in the whole village went off,” Khied says. “I woke my younger brother and sister up and prepared to leave.”

For Khied, the flood – which resulted after the collapse of a dam in Attapeu in July 2018 – was the “most terrible nightmare imaginable”.

After their home was destroyed, she remembers being dragged out with her brother and sister by the force of the water, to the forest.

It was five days before they saw their parents again.

“During the flood, I told my sister and brother to hold onto a tree so we would not float away,” Khied recalls. “There was so much debris like roofs, and logs and rocks that hit us.

“I had to stay alert and take care of my brother and sister so they wouldn’t be scared.”

The siblings ended up on a mountain in the forest, where they stayed overnight.

The next day, Khied saw the extent of the devastation. Debris was floating everywhere and there wasn’t a house in sight.

“I could only hear the sounds of people, injured and crying,” she says.

“I tried looking for my parents and calling out for them, but I didn’t see them anywhere.”

After the horror of the floods, Khied is helping to take care and inspire other child survivors.

Cold, bruised and frightened, Khied and her siblings walked for about five kilometres until they reached a village, where they were welcomed into a refuge camp nearby.

The siblings watched for days as rescue teams brought in other flood survivors and treated their injuries. It wasn’t until the fifth day at the camp that they spotted their parents.

“They looked very tired and weak,” Khied recalls, “but I was so glad to see them. I cried out and ran to hug them.”

Today, while Khied and her family’s future is uncertain, Khied is determined to stay positive. She has become a volunteer at a Child Friendly Space, supported by ChildFund, at the camp, helping provide more than 50 children impacted by the disaster with a place where they can play, learn and be safe. The Child Friendly Space offers children’s activities and has books and learning materials so children whose homes and schools have been washed away do not fall behind in education. Toilets are also available at the Space so children and mothers can access clean sanitation facilities.

“We lost everything, and even became homeless, but I didn’t want this to discourage me,” Khied says. “I wanted to take care of the children in my village to give them something to do to forget about everything that happened. I want them to be able to grow up and continue to persevere through whatever happens in the future.”

The collapse of the dam in Attapeu in July 2018 caused flash flooding into villages in southern Laos and neighbouring Cambodia. At least 26 people reportedly died and more than 6,000 children and their families have been displaced, and are seeking refuge in camps like Khied’s.

The Child Friendly Space offers a place where children can be safe.

Related Stories

What It’s Like To Lose A Child In a Disaster

Read Story

How Your Donation Funds Disaster Relief For Children Affected By Indonesian Disasters

Read Story

Clean Water Needed For Indonesia Disaster Survivors

Read Story

What Can You Do To Help Children In Crisis?

Read Story

How ChildFund Is Helping Children Affected By Disasters In Indonesia

Read Story

The Indonesian earthquake and tsunami through a child's eyes

Read Story

ChildFund to address urgent needs of children impacted by Sulawesi earthquakes and tsunami

Read Story

Protecting children from floods in Cambodia

Read Story

ChildFund supporting children impacted by Typhoon Mangkhut in Philippines

Read Story

ChildFund helping families affected by Laos floods

Read Story

Sign up to get the latest stories straight to your inbox