May 1 2015

Why are Child Friendly Spaces important for Nepal recovery?

Child Friendly Spaces are a central pillar of SOS Children’s Villages’ emergency response plan in Nepal, as in most of the 125 emergencies around the world where we have helped families recover from catastrophe. Learn why.

Nepal - Most of the people who have come to SOS Children’s Villages for help in the first days since the earthquake are families in a state of panic because they have lost their homes and everything they own.
For families with young children to care for, feelings of desperation and helplessness can be extreme, even leading, in the worst cases, to family breakdown or child abandonment.
Child Friendly Spaces are an important way that SOS Children’s Villages works to help children and families get through emergency situations. They are a central pillar of our response in nearly every emergency situation – and post-earthquake Nepal is no different.
Just five days after the earthquake, SOS Children’s Villages emergency teams had established three Child Friendly Spaces: two in Bhaktapur – one of the worst affected areas in the Kathmandu Valley – and one in Karve.*
Read about two-year-old Srishti, and her mother Ranjana, who came to an SOS Child Friendly Space in Bhaktapur.
In the coming weeks SOS Children’s Villages will be setting-up more Child Friendly Spaces to reach thousands of children whose families have been made homeless and extremely vulnerable as a result of the earthquake.

What happens at a Child Friendly Space?

Boys at an SOS Child Friendly Space in Bhaktapur engage in a drawing competition. Photographer: Zishaan Akbar Latif

First and foremost, Child Friendly Spaces give children a safe place where they are protected from harm and can get meals and clean water, health services, counseling, and the opportunity to simply play and forget their troubles.
At SOS Child Friendly Spaces children also get the chance to sing and draw and express their feelings about what they have seen and experienced. This can be an effective form of early treatment for trauma, especially when run and monitored by staff like ours who are experienced in working with children who have experienced trauma.

Just as importantly, access to a Child Friendly Space frees up the child’s parents or carers to work on critical issues, such as finding food and water, seeking relatives and friends, getting their homes in order, re-establishing their livelihoods, and assisting their neighbours and the community in recovering – knowing that their children are in safe, competent hands.
Children, parents and SOS co-workers report observable improvements in mood, levels of stress, trauma and fear among children and parents in emergency situations when they have access to a Child Friendly Space.

It is estimated that over eight million people in Nepal have been affected by the earthquake. The government estimates that over 70,000 houses have been destroyed and another 640,000 damaged.

More than 5,000 people are confirmed dead and more than 10,000 have been injured. These numbers are expected to rise.  According to UNICEF, the earthquake has affected 2.8 million children, including at least 940,000 children who require immediate aid.

*By the evening of 1 May, nine SOS Child Friendly Spaces were open in Nepal, and the Nepal government had invited SOS Children's Villages to head up its Child Care Space Committee. The director of SOS Children's Village Sanothimi, Mr. Khagendra, will head this committee for Nepal.

** As of Monday, 4 May additional SOS Child Friendly Spaces have been opened in Harisiddhi and Sindhupalchok.

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