Tsunami generation of children see hope for the future
BANGKOK, 22 December 2005
One year after the tsunami dramatically changed their lives, children in India, Sri Lanka and Thailand feel hopeful about the future, while children in Indonesia are recovering at a slower pace, according to a survey of tsunami-affected children released today by UNICEF.
In the survey, UNICEF Tsunami Relief Study – The Views of Affected Children, 1,633 children in four countries were interviewed about their thoughts and feelings on the disaster and their future. The survey polled children 8-17 years old, all of whom where directly affected by the tsunami, in four countries: Indonesia (400 children) Thailand (400), Sri Lanka (400) and India (433).
Using both a questionnaire and focus groups, the UNICEF survey, conducted by TNS, a global market information company, provides a unique glimpse of what life is like for children one year after the calamity that dramatically reshaped their lives.
The survey indicates that while children’s lives continue to be affected by the tsunami disaster, more than two-thirds of the children feel that their situation has improved and they are better off now compared to the weeks immediately following the tsunami.
"It is uplifting that many children, in the wake of tremendous loss and destruction, are confident about tomorrow,” said Anupama Rao Singh, Regional Director of the UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office. “But fear and anxiety persist, and children themselves express the need for continued education, healthcare and psychological support.”
In focus groups, children from different countries and different ages were brought together and shared in their own words their fears and their hopes for their lives.
One child from India said, “We want to work hard, study hard … but sometimes we worry about whether we will be able to study further.” A child from Sri Lanka expressed a wish for a more secure future: “I want my father to have tools and equipment to go back to work.”
“Schooling gives us activity so we don’t think about unpleasant things,” said a child from Indonesia – a statement that reinforces the importance of school as a place for emotional relief as well as learning.
UNICEF commissioned the study to better understand how surviving this tragedy has affected children, to provide an honest and authentic perspective directly from the children and to improve programs that meet the needs of the tsunami generation.
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For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 157 countries to help children survive and thrive from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for poor countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, safe water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by voluntary contributions from individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
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Result of survey
UNICEF EAPRO. UNICEF tsunami relief study: The views of affected children on their lives and the tsunami relief effort. December 2005.