May 1 2015

At SOS Child Friendly Space Nepali children draw out earthquake trauma

An SOS Child Friendly Space in Bhaktapur is giving Nepali children whose families have lost everything in the earthquake a safe haven in which to play, relax and express their trauma through drawing and other activities.

Bhaktapur, Nepal - Less than one week ago, Ranjana thought that she and her family were about to die. Now she is watching her two-and-a-half year old daughter Srishti enthusiastically draw a picture of the earthquake that nearly killed them.
Ranjana has brought Srishti to the Child Friendly Space set up by SOS Children’s Villages in the relief camp in Bhaktapur, Nepal, where the family is staying. Srishti is participating in a drawing and painting session for the children there. She is trying to draw what she saw on the day of the earthquake.

Srishti and Ranjana used to live in a house close to Durbar Square at Bhaktapur, one of the worst affected areas in the Kathmandu Valley.

Children attending an SOS Child Friendly Space in Bhaktapur share and describe their pictures of the earthquake. These children and their families are living in a relief camp. Photographer: Zishaan Akbar Latif

Ranjana says, “I was on the top floor of my five storey house while Srishti was watching TV with her grandmother on the floor below. Initially it felt like sitting on a swing. Everything was swaying. I felt that the house would collapse and I would die."
Ranjana and her family luckily escaped unharmed. They have been staying in a relief camp set-up on the grounds of a nearby college ever since.

“On the first day after the earthquake, we had nothing to eat. The next day, my husband went back into our damaged house and came back with some rice. I was worried about my husband’s safety when he went inside the house but I had to let him go because we were hungry”, she says.
The 300-400 people who are staying in the relief camp are afraid and have no home to go back to. “There was no shelter here initially. When it started to rain the next day, we stood under a building in Durbar Square to shield ourselves. Srishti is too young. She does not understand much. Her older brothers and sisters play with her and keep her engaged”, says Ranjana.

Only two-and-a-half, Srishti (right) and her mother Ranjana (left) lost their home in the earthquake. The family is staying in a relief camp in Bhaktapur, Nepal. Photographer: Zishaan Akbar Latif

Food is scarce in the relief camps. “For the first two days we had no food. We collected money and prepared food in the mess. The local youth club gave us water. Someone else provided tea, some gave rice and someone else arranged noodles during the day as lunch. We don’t have any plates to eat or glasses to drink water”, continues Ranjana.

SOS Children’s Villages is providing milk and biscuits for the children at the camp. Ten teenage volunteers from the local SOS Children's Village youth programme are running this aid project in the relief camp.

Ranjana adds, “It’s difficult to go back to our house, it has cracks all over. We don’t know what to do. My husband is a carpenter but his shop is also damaged and he cannot go back to work. We have lost all hope. We need help.”

By this time little Srishti has completed her sketch which shows how the earthquake felt to her.

Learn more about why Child Friendly Spaces are crucial for helping children and families recover from large-scale emergencies.

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