Tsunami disaster – countries in crisis

“Tsunami generation” play their way back to normal life

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Sri Lanka/2005/Thomas
Children at a relief camp near Galle laughing their way back to normal life.

GALLE, Sri Lanka, 15 March 2005 - At a relief camp in Sri Lanka's southern district of Galle, children play on swings and a merry-go-round in the compound while the sounds of others laughing, singing and shouting can be heard from another group inside a tent. This relief camp is now home to 62 families who come from the fishing and trading community nearby.

Ten-year-old Suraji Kumarawaduge says her ambition is to study and become a dancing teacher. “I thought I had lost that chance when the waves hit us. But now, I am happy playing with other children and being able to share our thoughts and worries,” Suraji says confidently.  Along with the camp’s other children, she has just completed another session of psychosocial care with young doctors who teach them coping skills.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Sri Lanka/2005/Thomas
Ten-year-old Suraji Kumarawaduge warned her family to run as the tsunami wave approached the shore near her home.

Suraji was playing in the garden when she heard shouts of “tidal wave”. She immediately alerted her mother of the impending disaster and the family was able to run to higher ground and escaped with their lives.

Three months after the tsunami, which cost the lives of 30,000 people in Sri Lanka, the UNICEF-backed programme of psychosocial care is helping Galle’s children to recover.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Sri Lanka/2005/Thomas
A young survivor takes part in a UNICEF-supported psychosocial care programme using games and songs to help children recover from the trauma of the tsunami.

The initiative was undertaken by dozens of highly motivated young medical school graduates, like 28-year-old Deepani Jasinghe. Deepani says she relishes the chance to help the survivors: “We build a rapport between the children; create friends; guide children to help other children. Earlier children were dependent on parents, adults. Here children help children. They are taught to be survivors,” she says, pointing to children playing and having fun. “By this process children also help their parents recover.”

The programme uses play therapy and other activity to guide children through recovery, helping them regain their childhood. That is, in essence, one of UNICEF’s main objectives, to help thousands of affected children rebuild their lives.


 

 

Video

16 March 2005:
UNICEF correspondent Rob McBride reports on trauma support being provided for the children of Sri Lanka.

Low | High bandwidth (Real player)

Journalists:
Broadcast-quality
video on demand
from The Newsmarket

Video

March 2005:
Ted Chaiban UNICEF Representative in Sri Lanka discusses how the money donated to UNICEF is being spent to help children.

Low | High bandwidth (Real player)

Journalists:
Broadcast-quality
video on demand
from The Newsmarket

Related links

New enhanced search