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UNICEF brings the healing power of play to traumatized children in the Maldives

MALE, 6 January 2005 – “If I were a superman, I would have stopped the waves with my powerful hands and helped everybody” says Ali Zian, a 10 year old boy, as he shows off the superman he’s just sketched and colored on a drawing sheet.

Zian is one of the 332 children on the island of Huraa where UNICEF distributed recreational kits containing  foot balls, crayons, dolls, drawing boards and books as a first response to address trauma and shock.

The island of Huraa is one of the badly damaged islands in the Maldives. Children on this island, like those on the other affected islands, watched in horror as houses collapsed and waves washed away their belongings. Some of the children were barely able to escape. Many islanders have lost everything and they will have to start from the scratch to rebuild their lives. For the children of Huraa the horror is still very present.

Shafeega, the community health worker on the island, says children can now be seen playing by the beach during the day. But as night falls children go nowhere near the beach and tend to huddle inside their houses. Some children have also refused to come and live in their houses near the shore. They are now living with their grandparents or relatives in the middle of the islands.

 “We are helping parents and teachers to recognise the signs of psychosocial trauma in their children and seek help if needed,” says Neumath, a senior teacher trainer from the Education Development Center under the Ministry of Education. Neumath and her team of women known as “aunties” helped facilitate children’s recreational activities as well as interaction with the communities in Huraa.
UNICEF's country team in the Maldives is working closely with the Red Cross to address the issues of psycho social trauma among children in the affected islands.

UNICEF distributed the following materials to children on the island of Huraa through the island chief and the local school.

  • Modelling Clay (assorted colours)
  • Drawing Blocks
  • Jotter books
  • Kitchen paper
  • Inflatable balls 
  • Footballs
  • Tennis balls
  • Dolls
  • Toy cooking sets
  • toy cars
  • pencils
  • building blocks
  • Soft toys
  • Crayons
  • Colour pens (fiba)
  • Puzzles (children jigsaws)

“For UNICEF these play kits are an essential first response in disasters where there are many children affected,’ said  Tom Bergmann-Harris, the Head of UNICEF Male Office.  ‘We are sending these sets out to other affected islands and these will help us and child care workers reach out to affected children.

For more information, please contact

Binita Shah
Asst.Communication Officer
Mobile: (960) 770495
Email: bshah@unicef.org




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