22 July 2015

100 days after devastating earthquake, emergency programme reaches thousands

SOS Children's Villages Child Care Space in Rayale Photographer: Suzanne Lee

100 days after a devastating earthquake struck Nepal, killing thousands and affecting millions, SOS Children’s Villages has reached more than 40,000 children through the various strands of its emergency programme in the country.

As soon as the earthquake struck on 25 April, the SOS Children’s Villages emergency wheels were set in motion.
 
First, as a matter of absolute priority, SOS Children’s Villages Nepal had to urgently check on its 10 SOS Children’s Villages and 39 programmes across Nepal. Fortunately, all children, mothers and staff were safe.
 
Within hours, the focus then switched to relief efforts, including the setting up of basic relief camps and, most importantly, in line with SOS Children’s Villages core experience and expertise, the establishment of as many Child Care Spaces as possible, so that children, the most vulnerable victims, could have a safe space in which to be cared for and to still be children amidst the chaos.
 

SOS Child Care Space in Rayale, Nepal.
Photographer: Suzanne Lee
So far SOS Nepal has set up a total of 25 Child Care Spaces, serving a total of 2,000 children in the areas hardest hit by the earthquake.
 
Essential services in the aftermath of the earthquake focused on the children, and included the provision of foods for lactating mothers, tents, clothing and beds as well as basic medical care.
 
SOS Nepal’s intact premises served as a refuge for thousands whose homes had been destroyed or who were fearful of venturing back inside with aftershocks still wracking the country. A major aftershock occurred on 12 May, causing further damage and distress.
 
Refuge
 
In the Kathmandu neighbourhood of Sanothimi alone, hundreds of neighbourhood residents took refuge in the SOS school.
 
In the SOS Children’s Village in Koteshwar in Kathmandu about 300 people sought refuge from surrounding areas. And the SOS Village in Jorpati catered to about 1,000 neighbourhood children, who were fed, supplied with drinking water, and given first aid and medical treatment.
 
SOS Nepal also provided ‘home in a box’ kits to people who had lost everything.
 

Shankar Shree Pradhananga
SOS Nepal National Director Shankar Pradhananga said: “Many people have lost everything including their house, beds, utensils, food stocks and clothes. So we developed a concept where we would distribute a ‘home in a box’ to these families containing some clothing, bedding, blankets, food, and utensils, so that they can be protected and they can start their livelihood once again. It contains all the utility things a family needs.”
 
In the days after the earthquake, SOS Nepal also began identifying children unaccompanied or orphaned as a result of the disaster. Thus far, 35 unaccompanied children and orphans have been taken into SOS Nepal villages.
 
Rebuilding lives
 
After a month or two the attention of the SOS Nepal emergency programme began also focusing on rehabilitation, with an emphasis on rehabilitation, livelihood programmes and reconstruction.
 
A kinship programme has been established under which close relatives caring for children whose parents were either killed in the earthquake or are unable to look after them because of it are provided with assistance from SOS Nepal.
 
SOS Nepal is also helping families set about rebuilding their lives and livelihoods. A total of 1,000 families have been selected for support under a livelihood programme which will allow them to get back on their feet again. They are also being enrolled in SOS Nepal’s family strengthening programme so that their children are supported during this difficult transition phase.
 
Longterm commitment
 
Such rehabilitation programmes are set to run for years, underscoring SOS Children’s Villages’ longterm commitment to countries in which it runs emergency programmes.
 
Another element of this longterm commitment is SOS Nepal’s plans to rebuild 300 houses for earthquake victim families in locations with child care spaces set up after the earthquake and where SOS Nepal has thus been working with the community for the last two months.
 
SOS will also be rebuilding four government schools in Nepal. One school, in Lakhuridanda, has already been selected and negotiations are underway with the school management and the Ministry of Education to finalise agreement. Selection of the other three schools is being explored with the government and the communities where SOS is present through its emergency programme.
 
Altogether, the SOS Nepal relief and rehabilitation effort has covered 12 districts in Nepal, with a particular focus on the nine hardest hit by the earthquake.