Save the Children Federation

Save the Children is the world's leading independent organization for children. Our vision is a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation. Our mission is to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives.
May 13, 2015

Second Quake Risks Emotional Scarring for Children

Nepal Earthquake
Nepal Earthquake

It could take years for some children affected by two deadly earthquakes in Nepal to emotionally recover from the disasters, fears Save the Children as aid agencies work around the clock to prepare communities for the upcoming monsoon season.

“Save the Children is extremely concerned about the emotional wellbeing of children affected by these two earthquakes, and the fear and distress they will feeling after having their lives ripped out from beneath them,” Save the Children Country Director Delilah Borja said.

“The second quake in particular has created a new level of terrifying uncertainty as those affected must now ask themselves if another deadly earthquake is coming.

“Families are opting to sleep in tents, makeshift shelters or out in the open once again rather than at home, either because their homes have been damaged or destroyed or because they are afraid of more aftershocks or another quake. In Kathmandu there are tents and tarps seemingly pitched everywhere. The golf course has become a tent city.”

The Government of Nepal is reporting that at least 65 people have died and nearly 2,000 have been injured following second quake, just two weeks after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake killed over 8,000 people.

Aid agencies like Save the Children are racing against time to reach the most vulnerable families ahead of the monsoon season, which is due to start within four to six weeks.

“Hundreds of thousands of people could still be homeless when the monsoon rains start, which has the potential to cause a new humanitarian crisis as the risk of disease and illness increases,” Ms Borja said.

“Save the Children is urgently working to distribute temporary shelter, food and water to those worst affected by the earthquakes, even via helicopter and donkey, and has already reached over 76,000 people. We need to be able to use morehelicopters, especially in remote areas, to support our relief effort.”

Save the Children has been working in Nepal since 1976, focusing on education, especially early childhood development and primary education, as well as basic health, including maternal child health and HIV and AIDS prevention and care. The aid agency runs programs in 63 districts of Nepal.

May 7, 2015

320,000 Children Homeless in Nepal

Nepal Earthquake
Nepal Earthquake

One week after the deadly earthquake in Nepal, Save the Children warns that more than a third of a million children face months sleeping out in harsh conditions after their homes were destroyed.

In the most remote mountainous regions, only reachable currently by helicopter, children and babies are sleeping outdoors without any protection from the cold, nighttime temperatures and heavy rainfall.

In more accessible areas tarps, blankets and baby kits have been distributed in temporary displacement camps, but children remain vulnerable to disease from the cold and unsanitary conditions they are living in.

Kesang, a first-time mother speaking from a maternity ward, said she was terrified of taking her new born baby back to sleep outside. "We only have a plastic sheet to cover us and the ground easily becomes flooded – we have to stay standing all night. Disease spreads easily in these conditions, I'm really worried that my baby and I will get sick."

Parents sleeping outside are reporting fevers, outbreaks of diarrhea and the risk of pneumonia. There is also a serious risk from asbestos – many homes and offices in Nepal were built using asbestos and the earthquake has exposed it.

Delailah Borja, Save the Children's Country Director in Nepal, said: "A week on from the earthquake, the full scale of the devastation is just becoming clear. Many of these 320,000 children have lost everything – their homes, their warm clothes and tragically sometimes their families."

"The risk of disease outbreaks and exposure are very real, especially for young children. That is why we are moving fast to get hygiene kits, tarpaulins and warm children's sleeping bags out to everyone who needs it."

Save the Children has distributed much of its existing in-country emergency relief supplies, reaching thousands of people with shelter kits, baby clothes, cooking utensils and more. Three planes and several trucks have been loaded with more supplies in India, Dubai and Philippines and have begun to arrive in Nepal.

Save the Children is also now setting up child-friendly spaces for children to play and be safe in the displacement camps that have sprung up across the affected areas.

Apr 28, 2015

Nepal Earthquake: Aid Worker's Firsthand Account

Nepal Earthquake
Nepal Earthquake

Nestled in the majestic Himalayan mountains, Nepal is near the top of the world and home to Mount Everest. I’ve always been in awe of the snowy peaks and fond of the gentle Nepalese children I’ve had the honor to work with over the years.

I was hiking with friends on the rim of a pristine lake. We were enjoying our day off, celebrating a colleague’s birthday. Then suddenly in the distance, we saw buildings start to shake. Then the rumbling sounds started. People ran out of buildings, but the shaking ground knocked them off their feet like game pieces on a chessboard that had been turned over. We felt the ground shake as the shockwave came crashing toward us. We huddled together, instinctively, for stability. I’ve never been more frightened in my life – I was paralyzed with fear and clung to my friends for dear life. We watched as buildings collapsed and houses came crashing down. The sounds of destruction and dogs barking filled our ears. The quake lasted little more than a minute – but it felt like an eternity.

At first, we didn’t know the extent of the damage. Communications were down. My wife saw the news back in the states and was frantically trying to contact me. Thankfully, she reached me within a few hours.

We slept in a tent for the night and then headed back to Save the Children headquarters in Kathmandu, where our staff was readying our response to the disaster. What’s typically a 4-hour trip took more than 7 hours, but we were grateful that the roads were relatively intact. So many homes have been damaged and destroyed. The aftershocks make it unsafe to be inside. It is still cold here in the mountains, and it rained last night, but people are fearful to return to their homes and are sleeping outside in makeshift tents.   

Our teams have been working around the clock in response to the earthquake. The first phase includes the distribution of emergency supplies like tarps and other materials children and families need to survive. The next phase will also include protecting children who have been orphaned or separated from their families during this tragic disaster. As a public health professional, I have great concerns about the potential for the spread of disease in the coming days. With little or no access to clean water and proper sanitation, conditions are ripe for diarrheal diseases, such as cholera. These diseases are already the second leading cause of death for young children around the world. 

We are doing everything we can to keep children safe from harm and help families recover in the aftermath of the earthquake. We have more than 500 highly trained staff members in Nepal, many of whom have received intensive emergency response training. We are so grateful for the outpouring of support from our donors that will enable us to give children what they need to survive this horrific disaster and recover in the days, weeks and months to come. On behalf of Nepal’s children and families, thank you.

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