“My house is flooded and my clothes and school books are also wet. School has been closed for 7 days already. Today I got to draw pictures and play games. It was really fun,” said Kik, her tiny voice describing her encounter with the flood and her participation in the Child Friendly Space (CFS) activities at Pradu Hom Temple.
Although the southern flooding which is ongoing since December 2016 has eased, people still need to stay alert given the fluctuating weather condition.
For nearly 2 months, the lives of flood victims have been turned upside down. They have to move out of their homes to stay at evacuation centre or remain in their house amidst the deluge. People faced food shortages, illnesses and accidents, not to mention loss of livelihoods and income. All of these factors affect the mental health of both adults and children, causing stress which could lead to violence.
Apart from providing emergency help ranging from food and drinking water to basic relief supplies to the flood-stricken people, World Vision Foundation of Thailand (WVFT)’s another priority are the children. During disasters, children are at the greatest risk of suffering from injuries, exploitation or other threats. CFS is an initiative set up by WVFT to protect and care for the children as well as to immune them from emotional trauma during times of emergencies.
CFS is a safe place located in communities affected by disasters. Its goal is to heal the physical and emotions of children, helping them to resume their normal lives quickly through various activities. These comprise fun games, which allow children to express their fears and losses through creative story-telling and group interactions. They also include basic hygiene and life lessons, activities to cultivate a reading habit, distribution of items like lunch boxes, bottle drinking water, drawing equipment and relief kits to families. During their time at the CFS, WVFT staff and community volunteers take care of children. Parents can go about their daily activities without worrying about their children’s safety.
As for the current flooding in southern Thailand, WVFT had set up CFS to give children warmth and happiness in 2 provinces, namely:
• CFS at a temporary shelter in Thang Phun sub-district municipality, Chaloem Phrakiat district, Nakhon Si Thammarat province (Sa Pleang project) from 10-12 January, 2017. More than 50 flood-affected children participated in the activity each day.
• CFS at Pradu Hom Temple, Khlongri sub-district, Sathing Phra district, Songkhla province on 16 January, 2017. Over 100 children from flooded areas join the activity.
“Thank you everyone for coming here to give us happiness and fun. Today I’m very happy. I want to thank everyone. I wish you happiness every day” these are the children’s words of appreciation expressed through drawings during a colouring activity at the CFS.
“On behalf of the children, I’d like to thank you for coming here to be their friend and making them feel good for moving on every day. Their mental health seemed to be bad… I asked the children if they have fun. They said it is good and would like the activities to continue,” said Mr Santhasak Thongmak, Assistant Chief District Officer of Thang Phun sub-district municipality about the WVFT-hosted CFS.
Recognising the importance of restoration and encouragement for children and communities in these difficult conditions, Mrs Chitra Thumborisuth, WVFT’s National Director travelled to participate in the CFS activities at Pradu Hom Temple. She encouraged everyone with these words, “Today all of you have come to a safe place here and we are here to make sure you’re having even more fun. Don’t forget that the rain and floods come and go, they won’t stay with us long.”
The smiles, laughter and happiness of the children and their parents resulting from the CFS activities are important indicators that everyone has a great strength, just like a rock. It is also a fortress and a barrier that will help everyone overcome this major flood disaster.