Tsunami disaster – countries in crisis

Real lives

Thailand: children cope with tsunami

© UNICEF Thailand/2005
Many children living in relief camps are from this devastated fishing village, Ban Nam Kem.

BAN NAM KEM, Thailand, 9 January 2005 - In a relief camp in southern Thailand, two little girls play with their dolls.

Eight-year-old Ratana Komkham slips a bright blue wig onto the head of her doll and shows it to her sister, ten-year-old Rayana. They are a gift from relief organizations and the local community.

Ratana and Rayana now live in this small tent, part of the Bang Muang camp in the Phang-Nga province of southern Thailand. Their fishing village, Ban Nam Kem, was devastated by the tsunami which killed dozens of families.

© UNICEF Thailand/2005
Many families living in the relief camps are from southern Thai fishing villages.

The Bang Muang camp gives shelter to more than three thousand people including the girls and their family. Volunteers provide food and water, administer medicines and offer counselling. Supported by UNICEF, it’s one of many measures the Thai government has taken in response to the disaster.

Making sure that all children here are registered is a UNICEF priority.  This helps prevent trafficking and other exploitation. The organization is also working to get  children back to school and is helping to supply books, toys and educational materials.

© UNICEF Thailand/2005
Homes, like these in Ban Nam Kem, were demolished by the tsunami.

"We want to make sure that all children are registered, and that someone checks their names before they go to school, and takes roll when they come home so that no child is taken away," says UNICEF Thailand Project Officer Suvajee Good.

UNICEF has also brought in a team of mental health experts who are travelling throughout affected regions, helping children and teachers cope with the tragedy they've endured.

But sometimes, something as simple as a toy can make a world of difference.

Ratana and Rayana's mother says her daughters' new dolls are helping them forget about their experience. "They don't think about it anymore," she says.  “Now, they ask about going back to school.”



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9 January 2005:
UNICEF's Steve Nettleton reports on how UNICEF is helping children cope in the aftermath of the tsunami.

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