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 and the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).
The camp is 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.