As Kerala limps back to normalcy, children await psychosocial support

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ith 483 dead, 15 missing and over 14.50 lakh people in relief camps, the floods in Kerala exposed people in the state to diseases and severe mental trauma. The most affected were children, who also happen to be the most neglected lot in terms of discussions of the damage done by the natural calamity.

 

“This flood has overwhelmed everybody, including the authorities, because nobody had anticipated a disaster of this magnitude in the state. It has been a little more than week since the floodwaters started to recede, but yet some rescue work is pending in some remote areas. Different departments are trying to put their act together in terms of defining what should be done primarily,” said Ray Kancharla, working with Save the Children.

As most schools in the state reopened on August 30, one of the very important concerns is to send the affected children back to school with proper utilities. “Once Onam festival started towards the weekend, many people connected with their relatives and left the camps overnight with their children. It is better for children to not see too much of the devastation. Psychosocial support is very important at this point in time, since they have not encountered anything of this magnitude until the flood hit their homes, and everything changed overnight,” Kancharla added.

 

Save the Children is planning to start more child friendly spaces in the villages since camps are pretty volatile. “Once people come back to their homes, and the elders get busy clearing up their houses to resettle, their children will need more safeguarding. That is where the relevance of friendly spaces will be huge,” said Kancharla.

Loss in the Education sector

The concept of child friendly spaces is to help schoolchildren and communities understand hygiene, and sanitation issues in times of distress. The education sector has faced a lot of damage — children have lost their books, and even schools have lost their records.

“Providing the children with enough material for learning would be a big challenge but it needs to be done very urgently. All organisations must put together resources to help children with books and uniforms. We’ve heard that the government is getting printed textbooks quickly,” informed Ray.

On Monday, the CBSE said that it will help Kerala students get their education certificates back in case they have lost them in the floods.

CBSE has 1,300 schools in Kerala affiliated to it. The students of these schools can retrieve their marksheets, migration certificates, and pass certificates from CBSE’s digital academic repository called ‘Parinam Manjusha’.

Children represent our hope: CM Vijayan

As schools and colleges reopened in the flood-ravaged state on Wednesday, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said children who had lost their books and uniforms in the flood will be provided with new ones.

In a tweet, Vijayan wished them a great school year ahead and said these children, who survived a calamity, “represent our hope”.

According to Education Minister C Raveedranath, at least 650 odd schools were affected by floods in Kerala.

Before reopening, the schools in the state were cleaned up and sanitised as flood waters had entered them, destroying books and furniture.

In some areas, few schools are yet to be opened as they continue to function as relief camps.