From Fear to Hope: Save the Children's Intervention leads from 52% to 98% in School Attendance, Improved Children Mental Health and Transforming Lives After Mudslides
Any incidents that occur affect everyone, but children are more vulnerable physically, emotionally, and even psychologically. Following the Hanang mudslides on December 3, 2023, which resulted in the loss of 89 lives (42 adults and 47 children), fear gripped the children, leading to a significant drop in attendance when schools reopened on January 8th, 2024.
"Today, the attendance is very low; here, we have 710 children, but only 380 attended school on the reopening day," said EnezaeliAkyoo, the headteacher of Qedangonyi Primary School.
In response to the reduced attendance, Save the Children, through the Start Network fund of £ 240,000, took swift action to address the psychological well-being of the affected children and to increase school attendance in the flood-affected areas. The organization providedintegrated mental health and psychosocial support to the communities, teachers, and children in eight affected schools, including Jorodom, Qedangonyi, Gendabi, Kateshi A, Kateshi B, Dumanang, Darajani, and Bomani Primary School.
Additionally, Save the Children initiated a sports bonanza for these schools, featuring football for boys, football for girls, tug of war, and goal ball for visually impaired children. The sports events began on January 10th and concluded on January 20th, 2024.
"For us, this is a significant gift because some of us were distraught after losing our colleagues in the flood disasters. However, you have come here to comfort us, and we are delighted with your presence. May God increase you for what you have," expressed Irene*, a pupil.
At the conclusion of the bonanza, Emergency Lead Abdulmajid Faraj emphasized Save the Children's commitment to ensuring that children continue to access their rights, including education, even in challenging circumstances.
"We have been here in Hanang since December 5, collaborating with the government to assist the affected community and children. We understand that in disasters, children are the most affected. Therefore, we initiated this bonanza to ensure the psychological well-being of children and to ensure an increase in attendance as they return to their studies as usual," he said.
Representing the eight schools participating in the bonanza, the headteacher of Jorodom Primary School, BalitokaPanula, thanked Save the Children for their initiatives, including psychological services and the sports bonanza.
"When the schools reopened, Jorodom's attendance was 52%, but after the bonanza was initiated, attendance increased to 98%,"Panula reported.
Hanang District's District Commissioner, Janeth Mayanja, who was the guest of honor at the bonanza's finals, pledged to continue collaborating with Save the Children in various activities. She commended Save the Children for their prompt response after the mudslide and their continued presence in Hanang District, working alongside the government to aid the affected community and children.
"You are a leading organization. After the incident occurred, you arrived quickly, and until today, you have not left. You have focused more on helping children, a group that is often overlooked. I commend you for touching this important group," she said.
Save the Children remains dedicated to rebuilding lives, restoring hope, and ensuring the holistic well-being of children and families affected by the mudslides in Hanang District. Through ongoing support, Save the Children aims to create a resilient community that can face the challenges ahead with strength and determination.