Each year almost 750,000 children around the world are caught up in disasters and can be greatly upset by the experience of being displaced, losing loved ones and friends.
The local community can act to ensure the safety of children, and to help them to come to terms with their experience. In order to restore some regularity to the lives of these children, churches or other community organisations can offer ‘children’s clubs’. These can include activities which help to rebuild their ability to play together, and to regain their sense of hope and social well-being. Clubs also provide them with an opportunity to learn, for example, about health. This will be especially important in situations where children have been separated from their families. In areas of frequent disaster, the church could consider having a small team of people trained to do counselling with children in a safe and supportive way.
Children’s clubs in Haiti
In the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, Tearfund set up about 70 children’s clubs around Léogâne, some in association with local churches. One of them was led by sisters Françoise and Monette. One hundred and thirty children, aged three to 14, attended two or three times a week. They learnt children’s songs about healthcare and disease prevention and were provided with a safe place where children could be children again. Françoise and Monette’s enthusiasm for the club and passion for children’s education made an enormous difference; the club became one of the most exciting places to be for the children of the area. It helped them to cope with the trauma of the earthquake and to learn important messages about health.