Smiling again after the flood in Laos

Smiling again after the flood in Laos

Simon Nazer
A boy was smiling while playing games in a child-friendly space
UNICEF Laos/2018/Simon

14 September 2018

 

Since a huge flood in the south of Lao PDR left thousands homeless, child friendly spaces have been set-up in remote camps to give children a safe area to learn and play with trained volunteer teachers.

UNICEF and partners such as Save the Children, Plan International and Child Fund led by the Ministry of Education and Sports and the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, with the support of the Australian Government and USAID, are supporting the Government to create a happy space to help children heal from the trauma of the disaster.

We recently visited some spaces and the smiles tell their own story.

 

Nado, the 2-year-old boy was happy to play in the child-friendly spaces
UNICEF Laos/2018/Simon
Nado, the 2-year-old boy was happy to play in the child-friendly spaces set up in Sanamxai camp, Attapeu province, Laos.

Nado, 2, loved running around and using the slide. “I want to come back tomorrow,” he said before running off to join the queue for the slide.

A girl laughs while on a slide in a UNICEF-supported Child Friendly Space in Sanamxai Camp, Attapeu, Lao PDR.
UNICEF Laos/2018/Simon
A girl laughs while on a slide in a UNICEF-supported Child Friendly Space in Sanamxai Camp, Attapeu, Lao PDR.

2-year old Donut, right, couldn’t get enough of the activities. “I like it lots,” she said. “I hope I can come again every day!”

Children playing games in a child-friendly space
UNICEF Laos/2018/Simon
Children playing games in a child-friendly space set up in Ban Bok Camp, Attapeu, Lao PDR. A volunteer teacher takes children through various games and activities to help them heal after the emergency. The camps are set-up with the support of UNICEF and partners including the Australian Government and USAID.

One mother who was watching her child play really valued the child friendly space. “My daughter likes it here very much,” she says. “I think this is really great for the kids.”

Children playing games in a child-friendly space
UNICEF Laos/2018/Simon
Children playing games in a child-friendly space set up in Oudomxay Camp, Attapeu, Lao PDR. A coordinator from Child Fund takes children through various games and activities to help them heal after the emergency. The camps are set-up with the support of UNICEF and partners including the Australian Government and USAID.

“I think it’s good to bring the children together,” continued the mother of 4-year-old Vanmai. “It’s much more active here than just sitting in our tent, alone with her few toys. I can see she’s more active and happy here.”

A UNICEF-supported Child Friendly Space in Ban Bok camp, Attapeu, Lao PDR.
UNICEF Laos/2018/Simon
A UNICEF-supported Child Friendly Space in Ban Bok camp, Attapeu, Lao PDR.

The child friendly spaces allow children to heal after the trauma of the floods where thousands of people lost their homes and livelihood to huge floods. The tent is equipped with UNICEF’s School in a Box and volunteer teachers have be trained to give children and mothers support to move on from the trauma.

A boy laughs while taking part in activities in a UNICEF-supported Child Friendly Space
UNICEF Laos/2018/Simon
A boy laughs while taking part in activities in a UNICEF-supported Child Friendly Space in Ban Bok camp, Attapeu, Lao PDR.

As well as playing, children also learn while their schools are closed. This helps keep their learning on track before they can go back to school and restart their lives.

A young girl reads with other flood-affected children in a UNICEF-supported Child Friendly Space
UNICEF Laos/2018/Simon
A young girl reads with other flood-affected children in a UNICEF-supported Child Friendly Space in Ban Bok camp, Attapeu, Lao PDR.

UNICEF is continuing its work for the many children affected by the floods to help them and their families get their lives back on track. 

Children affected by recent floods raise their hands during a fun activity in a Child Friendly Space in Ban Bok camp, Attapeu, Lao PDR.
UNICEF Laos/2018/Simon
Children affected by recent floods raise their hands during a fun activity in a Child Friendly Space in Ban Bok camp, Attapeu, Lao PDR.