Harena, the rebirth of a little girl after the cyclones
Harena, a six-year-old girl, lives in Ambalavero, a small village located in the south-east of Madagascar. Her father is a farmer, and her mother is not working. Together, they watch over her with affection. Harena also has an older sister who she plays with in her daily life. Harena had an accident that resulted in her left eye being punctured by a piece of wood, leaving her vision difficulties that prevented her from attending school.
Harena was a lively child, full of life, but her vision challenges led to her becoming withdrawn. Successive cyclones in this vulnerable region had also plunged her family into increasing precariousness, with their house collapsing and their crops devastated. The situation made it increasingly difficult to take care of her medical and emotional needs. Harena became estranged from her classmates and friends, living more and more in isolation.
But recently a glimmer of hope emerged. With support from the Australian National Committee for UNICEF and UNICEF Madagascar, both group and individual psychosocial support sessions were organized for children living in her village. Trained social workers provided active listening sessions and referrals to care services. A child friendly space was created to encourage play and socialize. In Harena's case, she and her family were referred to the nearest health center.
“It’s an honor for us to bring support and encouragement to these vulnerable children” said XX. “Thanks to these activities, we have been able to gain a better understanding of the experiences and realities of the children and their families affected by the cyclones. We’ve also encouraged behavioral change in the children, helping them to better engage with their peers.”
Harena’s parents are equally impressed with and grateful for the results. “We are so grateful to everyone involved in this project which has really brought a lot of happiness to our daughter’s life.”
The results achieved far exceeded the expectations set by the psychosocial support activities in the planning stage. In the group psychosocial support activity (SPSG), the planned number of beneficiaries was 2,400 spreads across four communities. In the end, more than four thousand children benefited, including nearly 1,000 living in rural areas.
The results for the individual psychosocial support activity (SPSI) also surpassed expectations, with 960 beneficiaries reached in the four rural communities, including 516 in the rural areas.
During these sessions, a transformation occurred in the Harena’s life. In the past, she would hide behind her older sister, seeking protection. Today, with the support of the professional team and the hope of being accepted by her peers, Harena is gradually regaining her self-confidence. Step by step, she has opened up, expressing her wish to heal and return to a normal life. A team of professionals continue to provide support to Harena on a regular basis.