By Angy Pradhan, Intern at Restless Development Nepal
The earthquakes and numerous aftershocks in Nepal left many children and young people at risk, and put a halt to the entire education system. This could have a serious impact on literacy rates in the country, which had previously reached 98% in 2013 from 83% in 2010. The risk of trafficking and exploitation became greater for girls, many of whom were made homeless by the quake and could not go to school.
The situation created a demand for spaces that are safe for children and youth to learn and play in, and receive psychosocial support. To address this, Restless Development, in partnership with UNICEF, created Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) in temporary relief camps, for more than 350 children in Lalitpur and Kathmandu. These spaces provide a friendly environment where affected children can continue to learn.
Young, local volunteers have been trained by Restless Development to successfully run the CFS, using resources such as early child development kits, recreation kits and other educational materials. Our young volunteers also use non formal education techniques, including games, to help the children feel safe.
Our young volunteer leads games for children in one of our child Friendly Spaces, Kathmandu. I enjoy being here because it is fun playing with my new friends. I and my sister used to stay in the tent and play with each other, now I can play with my friends while my younger sister listens to stories and plays with her friends, says a girl of age 12 while she works on a puzzle in one of our CFS.
A young volunteer helps teach children literacy in one of our CFS.
Since the 31st May, 133 CFS have been established in temporary camps, including training for teachers and volunteers so they can provide psychosocial support to children and help restore Nepal’s education system. Restless Development aims to establish 400 Temporary Learning Centers (TLCs), these are more secure structures which will reach an estimated 168,651 children, 5,990 teachers and 43,875 women in Lalitpur, Kathmandu, Dolakha, Ramechhap, Rasuwa, Sindhuli and Makawanpur. The TLCs are part of the government-led “Back to School” campaign, to quickly re-start interrupted schooling, assess damaged school structures, and prepare for the Monsoon.
Parents will be busy planting rice for one and half months. When they go for work, they will not have to worry about their children. They know that their children will be safe with the teachers and volunteers in the TLC, says the head master of Rudrayani Secondary School, Lalitpur.
These temporary School Blocks were built with the help of our young volunteers.
Restless Development’s young volunteers took the lead in responding to the emergency, working quickly to provide friendly spaces for children. Now Restless Development is beginning to mobilise its young volunteers in the temporary schools which have been built. They are continuing to deliver educational activities and games to help children regain a sense of normality in their lives.