Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Coordination and Child Safety

It’s only been a few days since I arrived, but it feels like an eternity. Although a lot has been done, the logistics involved with getting people supplies and coordinating the many agencies and organizations here is immense.

Therefore, progress is only measured in baby steps and will likely take time. Besides attending United Nations coordination meetings and liaising with different people on the current gaps and needs, we have been able to make some headway on the creation of child-friendly spaces.

These spaces are meant to be a place where children can go to play and learn, be with other children, and restore some normalcy to their lives. In the settlements in which we are working, children of all ages are around but don’t have anything to do during the days.

Most of them were in school before the earthquake but now spend their days digging in the dirt or playing with small toys that they have made out of trash. In order to make safe centers for children, it is important to get the communities involved so that they can ensure the spaces remain safe and that they are community-owned and managed.

To start, we created and mobilized teachers associations in the five zones within the camp. After walking around and talking with mothers and fathers, we found out that many people had previous experience working with children from kindergarten to university.

We asked them what they thought of creating child-friendly spaces, and they all agreed that it was important and a good idea. They also said that in addition to getting children engaged and active, it was important that teachers started to work again.

They told us that the adults are just as traumatized as the children, so I think we will use the child friendly spaces to reach out and support as many people as we can. Plus children will no longer have to play near sewage.

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