I’m an Ebola Child Protection Advisor

My name is Amy, and I’m in Liberia responding to the Ebola crisis – the deadliest outbreak in history. It’s perhaps the most challenging assignment of my Save the Children career.

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Amy Richmond, Child Protection Advisor

Liberia

October 1, 2014

 

My name is Amy, and I’m in Liberia responding to the Ebola crisis – the deadliest outbreak in history. It’s perhaps the most challenging assignment of my Save the Children career.

Waking up to Ebola
Waking up in my room, this Ebola assignment feels almost routine – like any of the dozens of emergency assignments I’ve been on for Save the Children. My surroundings are strangely familiar. A simple bed, the glowing red alarm clock circa 1982 and heavily screened windows through which stifling hot air wafts, even in the early morning. But once I step outside, I realize this is an assignment like no other. First, I’m overwhelmed by the sharp smell of the chlorine-solution used as a disinfectant here, then by the otherworldly sight of workers fully outfitted in infection control suits, as well as the often graphic Ebola prevention signs. I take a deep breath. Now, the real work begins. 

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In addition to helping kids stay healthy and safe, Save the Children is also proving emergency supplies and nutritious food in the hardest hit areas.

The tragic discovery of little David
The children we’re helping here are facing overwhelming tragedy. Perhaps the most tragic is the story of an 8-year-old boy. I’ll call him David – a common name in Liberia.

On a routine area survey, where relief workers go house-to-house searching for people who may have had contact with the Ebola virus, aid workers came across David. He was in his home – about the size of a garden shed, though not as well built – surrounded by the dead bodies of his family.

I shudder to think what David went through being there when his family died from the painful sickness caused by the Ebola virus. No child should go through that horror. Miraculously, he survived. It’s our job to ensure he can overcome this tragedy and find a safe place for him to grow up.

Why I do what I do
I've been a Child Protection Advisor for over a decade now. I've seen the worst of what the world has wrought on our children – deadly conflict in Syria and Iraq, famine-like conditions in East Africa, devastating hurricanes on America’s coastline, terrible typhoons in the Philippines. And through it all, – children have paid the heaviest toll. And that’s why I do what I do.

 

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Little children think the health workers look like aliens from outer space in their protective gear. The suits might look scary, but they help protect the dedicated workers from the outbreak.

Little ones are always the most vulnerable in crisis – and Ebola is no exception. It’s our job to protect them. My colleagues and I keep kids safe from harm, trafficking and unspeakable abuse. We help children overcome horrific, traumatic experiences. We also reunite children with family members if they get lost or become orphaned. Children need all of this help, and more, here in the midst of the Ebola crisis.

Taking necessary precautions
I know I can’t take care of children, if I don’t take care of myself. And Save the Children has very strict protocols to ensure my good health and safety. Everywhere I go, I use hand-sanitizer, wash with chlorine solution and step through a bleach bath or am hosed with a foot shower. I take medicines, wear infection control gloves and have protective nets to keep other diseases at bay, knowing there’s little access to health care here. And I’m exceedingly careful about what I eat and drink. Although my pants are all bleach-stained, and my hands are raw from the chlorine, I know I’m doing everything I can to stay well, so I can do my job – protecting children.

Making a difference for kids
We work long, grueling days, but at the same time, we’re energized by knowing we’re making a difference for vulnerable children in this crisis. The days are full and varied. In the morning, I read the latest briefings and meet with our Child Protection team on our response work for the day, which may include caring for orphaned or unaccompanied children like David. In the evenings, we work on documents to secure much needed funds this essential Ebola crisis response.

Finally, I collapse on my bed in the oddly comforting red glow of the alarm clock. Ready to sleep for a few hours – and do it all again tomorrow.

To learn more about our response to the Ebola outbreak, click here

I Am Determined to Stay Strong for the Children of Gaza

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Osama Damo

Senior Communications Manager for Save the Children's Emergency Response Team in Gaza

July 22, 2014

 

Save the Children works independently and impartially around the world, wherever there is need. The below piece reflects the opinions of the staff member quoted, reflecting his perceptions from living and working on the ground in Gaza. Save the Children is currently working in Gaza and the West Bank. As a global organization, Save the Children is equally concerned about the well-being of children in Israel as those in the West Bank and Gaza, and supports an end to the violence against both peoples.,

My heart sank when the 72 hour ceasefire ended after just 90 minutes last Friday. It plumbed new depths when a missile struck outside another school on Sunday killing at least ten people.

I am determined to stay strong for the children of Gaza, however I admit that hope for the future fades with every bomb and rocket strike.

The long sleepless nights I’ve spent listening to buildings destroyed by missiles and shells have been terrifying, but I am equally worried about the future of Gaza when the fighting stops.

Gaza – where before this conflict 80 percent of the population relied on foreign aid – is in ruin. Every attack pushes its people deeper into a life of poverty and loss.

Israel has been attacked too, but its missile defense system has thwarted nearly every rocket sent its way.

This week marks one month since the first missiles were launched, and more than two weeks since the ground offensive began. The death toll stands at more than 1,800, including over 1,000 civilians and 350 children.

How many more days the fighting will last, nobody knows.

Before the conflict Gaza was stymied by the blockade – its fishing zone had been progressively reduced from 20 miles to three miles over the past 20 years, borders were closed meaning building materials could not enter making construction impossible, and imports and exports have been severely restricted.

Recent air strikes on Gaza’s sole power plant and the water network mean families are facing a complete collapse of essential services, as electricity and water supplies run out.

Health facilities are also badly affected, with some hospitals warning they only have enough fuel to run electricity generators for another four to five days.

This could leave nearly one million children trapped in a war zone without access to electricity, water or medical services.  Gaza_1

Residents are receiving electricity for a maximum of two hours a day, if at all. I haven’t had electricity for five days now. No water supplies are being delivered and sewage pumps are not working, meaning raw sewage is being pumped onto the streets, raising serious concerns about outbreaks of disease in overcrowded shelters.

When the fighting stops work will begin rebuilding a shattered city. But where do you start?

There are still badly damaged buildings awaiting repair from the 2012 military offensive, and homes destroyed during the 2009 conflict that are yet to be rebuilt.

Gaza was still in recovery mode when this round of fighting erupted.

The job for aid agencies will be massive, arguably without compare. For Save the Children it will range from rehabilitating damaged kindergartens and training teachers in psychosocial support for students to helping patch up hospitals, repairing key infrastructure and child protection services.

And all this before attempting to address the poverty that plagued Gaza before the conflict. Creating employment, livelihoods and civil society. Making Gaza sustainable.

None of this will be possible while the blockade stands – ending it must be part of the solution.

For many, however, life in Gaza will never return to normal. Their homes have been destroyed, livelihoods expunged and their friends and family members killed. How do you come back from that?

What I do know is that the international community must strenuously push for a new ceasefire and find a way to get all parties to uphold it.

At the very least the living must have the chance to bury the dead and see what’s left of their homes. Meanwhile aid agencies must be able to safely help the sick and injured as well as get essential services up and running.

After that, we need a lasting peace agreement including an end to the blockade so Gaza can begin to rebuild.

This is the third conflict between Gaza and Israel I have lived through, as I wrote in the Herald Sun last week, and it’s by far the worst. In Gaza there has been too much loss of life, and also on the Israeli side. It must end, it has to end now.

In the past 30 days I have left my apartment five times – twice during the two failed ceasefires to help with aid distributions with Save the Children and three times to get food for my family.

I live in an apartment with my wife and mother, but some nights we had up to 18 people taking shelter including five children.

We sleep in the corridors where the building is strongest and jump at the slightest of sounds. The other day my wife put a bottle of water down loudly and I ducked for cover, thinking it was another air strike.

Another time we heard a loud whistling noise and ran to the corridor, only to realize it was a car with a high-pitched engine going past.

I have feared for my life too many times.

Let the bloodshed and fighting stop on both sides so we can at least begin the task of rebuilding Gaza.

Learn more about Save the Children's life-saving work on the Gaza/Israel conflict. 

Gaza/Israel: Where Evacuation is No Game

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Osama Damo

Senior Communications Manager for Save the Children’s Emergency Response Team in Gaza

July 22, 2014

 

At the bottom of my apartment building in Gaza two girls about six years old sit on the ground, laughing as they hurriedly pack items into their backpacks.

Intrigued, I ask them what game they are playing.

They tell me it’s called ‘evacuation’.

My heart sinks. These girls should not know the terror of an evacuation, yet now they are living through their third military conflict. These girls were taught the basics of surviving conflict before they were even taught the alphabet.

I too am living through the third major escalation of violence in Gaza since 2008, however, this time is completely different. It is more terrifying, the outlook even more grim and the mounting casualty list – especially children – growing at a far greater rate.

I write this at 2am from the confines of my apartment with my family. We are all awake and have been since 7am. It is impossible to sleep.

Though the streets below are eerily quiet, the noises we can’t block out are the constant bee-like hum of drones flying around and the terrifying thump of bombs as they smash into and explode on nearby buildings, as well as occasional screams mixed with windows and glass smashing. The air outside is thick with acrid smoke and the taint of explosives. 

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The buildings rattle and shake with every bomb.

I have not left our apartment in days apart from hurried trips to get more food, I feel like I am a prisoner here.

Each day the situation gets more desperate.

Gaza is a city full of apartment buildings, we have power for only three hours a day and without electricity there is no way to pump water up to homes. Half of Gaza’s water services have been disrupted because of infrastructure damage caused by bombings, and households are running out of drinking water reserves.

Also, at least 85 schools and 23 medical facilities have sustained damage because of their proximity to targeted sites, and many other schools are being used to house those who have fled their homes.

And this all in a city where 80 percent of the population depended on humanitarian aid before the conflict started.

Sometimes the only thing we can do is joke about the situation, as morbid as this sounds. The last offensive in 2012 took place in the winter, and back then we told our children the bombs were actually lightning strikes and thunder.

But now, what can we tell them? It is summer. And so we laugh without humour, and tell each other that perhaps it is time to tell our children the truth.

Each day the fear within me is building, mostly for the impact this will have on children.

What will they grow up to be? When bombs seem to fall as regularly as rain, how will they ever view peace? Many children on both sides see this life as normal now, and that is a great tragedy.

For Save the Children – operating in Gaza since 1973 – the challenge is enormous and our staff often put themselves in danger to help.

Yesterday two staff risked their lives going to our warehouse to get medical supplies, then moved them to a hospital that was running out of supplies.

It is heroic acts like this that help public services like hospitals to keep running. Hospitals must have access to the equipment and medicine they need to treat the growing number of sick and wounded.

Save the Children is aiming to distribute 2500 hygiene kits and 2500 baby kits in the coming days, and will also open child friendly spaces once it is safe to do so. These provide children vital psychosocial support, and a place to forget about what they have been through.

No matter what, we will continue to provide vital services for children and families on both sides of the conflict, but ultimately the violence needs to stop.

Save the Children is calling for an immediate cease-fire and an end to the violence that has caused immense suffering to children and their families on both sides.

Beyond a ceasefire, we know that only a negotiated agreement between all parties to the conflict will bring about a lasting difference, including an end to the blockade in Gaza.

No child – Palestinian or Israeli – should have to live through rocket attacks, evacuations and military conflict, let alone three before their seventh birthday like the girls downstairs. For our children’s sake, let the violence end. Donate to Save the Children’s Gaza Children in Crisis Fund.

Save the Children works independently and impartially around the world – wherever there is need. We are currently working in Gaza and the West Bank. Save the Children, as a global organisation, is equally concerned about the wellbeing of children in Israel as those in the West Bank and Gaza.

Where bombs fall as regularly as rain

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Osama Damo

Emergency Response Team

Gaza

July 2014

 

It starts in earnest after the sun sets. I’m not sure why. It is Ramadan at the moment, and here in Gaza we are fasting 16 hours a day. Our only moment of joy is breaking our fast together at sunset. But not now. With darkness comes death these days.

 

Gaza_skaddhusFrom my home I can hear the sounds of bombs falling in Gaza from Israel and sometimes rockets being launched here in Gaza toward Israel. Gaza is so tiny, the buildings rattle and shake with every bomb.

 

We joke darkly amongst ourselves. The last offensive (in 2012) took place in the winter, and we told our children that it was lightning strikes, thunder. Those noises are not to be feared. But now, what can we tell them? It is summer. And so we laugh without humour, and tell each other that perhaps it is time to tell our children the truth.

 

When we realised how serious the situation was becoming, we became glued to the TV for news. We performed our routine check – are our friends ok? Our family? You do this check so regularly. We check our fridge – how much food do we have? How much water?

 

We have a phrase in Arabic, literally translated it means ‘we have not even had the chance to breathe yet’ – since the last conflict in 2012. It seems we have not even had the chance to adjust ourselves, to convince our children they are safe, before they are not safe anymore.

 

The silliest things go round in my mind. I am an avid football fan, and was so enjoying the World Cup. Now I hate it. Only when it is over will the rest of the world perhaps be interested in what is unfolding in our little corner of the world.

 

And the darker, more morbid thoughts. What will our children grow up to be, these young children, of six years old, who have now known three of these offensives/military operations conflicts? When bombs seem to fall as regularly as rain. How will they ever view peace? On both sides… for some children this is normal now, they barely flinch. I honestly don’t know what is worse.

 

The streets are eerily quiet, the honking of horns has subsided. The only noise now is the explosions around us, and the occasional scream mixed with windows glass smashing. The air itself is like war – thick with acrid smoke and the taint of explosive.

 

We have enough food here for a few days, maybe a week if we are careful. Once the fuel runs out, there will be no water either. I worry about this. Hospitals are reportedly running out of equipment and some supplies.

 

The last time this happened, Save the Children launched a response in Gaza. We delivered urgently-needed medical supplies to hospitals and clinics, distributed food and plastic sheeting to families whose homes had been severely damaged, and set up a network of special centres with expert staff to counsel children and help them recover from their experiences.

This time…I worry that we may need to do same again. The same children will need the same kind of care. The same hospitals, the same homes. And in another two years, and another? When does it end?

 

Save the Children works independently and impartially around the world– wherever there is need. We are currently working in Gaza and the West Bank. Save the Children as a global organization is equally concerned about the wellbeing of children in Israel as those in the West Bank and Gaza.  

 

Osama Damo is part of the Save the Children team on the ground in Gaza, and this blog represents his perceptions from living and working there.

We Came Here Last Year as Tourists

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 Karl Schembri, Middle East Regional Media Manager, Save the Children International

Iraq

June 26, 2014

 


I’m walking around Erbil’s city centre with our assessment team as they look around inside motels for displaced Iraqi families in need of help. One family after another, they all tell us how they’re running out of money, having to move out onto the streets with no clue where to go.

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Sufian*, 12, and his sister, Fatima*, 14, in the family's hotel room in Erbil. The family fled the violence in their hometown Tikrit. Photo: Hedinn Halldorsson/Save the Children 

In a small motel tucked in the bazaar just a minute’s walk away from the historic citadel, I meet 12-year-old Sufian*. His parents and two siblings are crammed in a room. A little suitcase lies on the bed as they collect the few belongings they brought with them when they fled from the hellish explosions and gunfire in Tikrit a week ago. His father, clearly distraught, tells me their money has run out and they are now leaving. 

“We came here a year ago as tourists during Eid al Adha,” Sufian tells me. “We know the motel owner; we stayed here last year. He’s been very kind to us and gave us slashed prices, but my father has no more money left. Where will we go? Maybe in the streets, in the parks… there’s no place for us.”

Here is a middle income family who afforded to come as tourists last year, right in the same place where they are now seeking refuge. Sufian himself grasps the bitter irony and goes on to explain to me what it feels like.

“When we travelled as tourists we felt safe, there were policemen at the border and everything was orderly. We came to relax, we were comfortable. It’s not the case as displaced people. We had to flee from explosions, armed men, no security.

“When we came as tourists we got all the things we needed; our clothes and all the stuff you need when you’re travelling. When you’re fleeing you have to escape quickly. We couldn’t bring anything except the clothes we have on us.”

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Sufian *, 12, Fatima *, 14, and their little brother, Kamal*, 6, in the family's hotel room. "Even if it's not safe to go there, I want to avoid ending up on the street", said the children's father. "I tell my little brother stories when he has nightmares during the night", Sufian says. Photo: Hedinn Halldorsson/Save the Children 

Having to flee like that is something Sufian and his family never expected to have to go through. He dreamt of becoming a doctor to help people in need, but now the future is bleak, he doesn’t even know where he will sleep tonight and the tragedy is still sinking in. He misses his friends, his neighborhood, playing football with his mates. He tells me his 6-year-old brother gets nightmares at night, so he consoles him by telling him stories until he sleeps again.

But it’s a nightmare for the entire family, really, as it is for thousands of others fleeing from the raging conflict in Iraq right now. One might say we are all tourists in this fleeting life of ours, but nobody should be forced to flee from home, leaving everything behind, with no idea where to spend the night.

*Names have have been changed to protect identities.

South Sudan: Six Months of Fighting, a Generation of Children at Risk


Anonymous

Dan Stewart

Save the Children , South Sudan

June 15, 2014

 
 

Six months ago today, fighting of shocking brutality erupted in South Sudan.

The toll of those months of conflict makes grim reading: more than 500,000 children have been forced to flee their homes and are now scattered across the bush, staying in overstretched communities or bunched together in camps, their lives in limbo.

Three-quarters of those hit by the crisis are under 18

There are 95 schools that remain occupied by armed groups or displaced people;  a quarter of all schools in the country are closed.

Image001_SouthSudanCommunities are cut off from supplies with families surviving on leaves and grass. Famine looms. Unless swift action is taken, 2.5 million children face a hunger crisis and 50,000 are likely to die of malnutrition.

More than 9,000 children have been recruited into armed groups since the fighting began, while at least 22,300 have been affected by grave violations including attacks on schools, sexual violence and abductions.

South Sudan’s children have suffered for six months. The question is, what kind of future will they have?

Building lasting peace and security

I have seen children responding with courage, hope and determination. All parties involved in the fighting should follow their example.

These brave children are at serious risk, not just from the violence but from the psychological impact of what they have already been through. Without psychosocial support now to help them recover from their traumatic experiences, the events of these past few months could scar their entire futures.

Dwindling food stocks, rising prices and empty stomachs

Many communities are trapped: completely cut off from possible help. To travel along roads that cross the front line? “That is the end of your life,” I have been told.

Other, less dangerous, roads have become impassable as the rains turn rough roads into muddy quagmires.

In remote areas, families already eating grass and leaves have told me their food supplies will run out completely by the end of June. The rains will also become too heavy then to plant crops.

These children want to learn

These people desperately need seeds and tools now so they’ll have a harvest in the autumn. Otherwise, the hunger crisis will only deepen. And they need food to see them through until then.

Yet with all the hardship, hunger and uncertainty, children tell me they want education above all. They are right to want this: the longer a child is out of school, the further they fall behind and the more likely they are never to return. South Sudan’s future depends on giving its children their right to learn.

Six months on from the start of the crisis the need to act could not be more urgent. Save the Children is doing whatever it takes to bring children protection, education, and treatment for malnourishment. We need your help to reach more children. Their future hangs in the balance.

 Donate to help the children of South Sudan.

South Sudan: “Since we arrived here, no-one will kill my family, but hunger could.”


Anonymous

Dan Stewart

Save the Children , South Sudan

June 16, 2014

 
 

Nyandong and Sunday“Nyandong* looks straight at me. She is unflinching. Small, thin limbs occasionally wrap around her or clamber up, looking for purchase, as her children mill around us. She has her malnourished one year old boy quiet and still in her arms and her face is intent as she tells me what has happened to her family since brutal fighting engulfed many parts of Jonglei, South Sudan, in December.

“Innocent people were killed in those days. There were a lot of us running together then some of the people we were with got caught. They were surrounded and killed. It was just by luck that we survived. We crouched and hid behind a fence, just hoping no-one would find us. I could see the scared faces of my children, and armed men walking the streets looking for people to kill.

 “When the sun set we left. We took nothing and it took us thirty days to walk here. We ate the leaves off the trees and I thought we would die of thirst. When we saw birds circling in the sky we followed them because we hoped they would be flying above water. I don’t know how we survived.

 “My children kept asking me for food and water but I didn’t have any. The children were constantly crying. They got rashes on their skin and became thin. They wanted to stop. They fell down on their knees and cut themselves. I had to pull them along – if we stopped we would have died there. My daughter had to bring her little brother, but he was too tired. I had to tell her to drag him along even though he cried.

 We are talking in remote Nyirol county, in an area set back from the frontline where tens of thousands of people have fled for safety. But Nyandong explains that for her family and many others, one threat has been replaced by another. Severe hunger is the price they have paid to escape the bullets.

 “Since we arrived here, no-one will kill my family. But hunger could. Hunger could kill everyone here. Nyandong and family

 “We depend on others. When people in the community give us some food, then we can eat. We eat one small meal a day. We mix grass and leaves in with sorghum to make it last longer. The leaves are very bad for children – it gives them diarrhoea.

 There is just one chink of light. Save the Children screened Nyandong’s 1 year old daughter Sunday* and found she was severely malnourished. We have been providing therapeutic feeding to begin nursing her back to health. “Sunday was about to die” Nyandong says. “She was very thin. A baby should walk one year after she is born but Sunday is more than a year old and still she can’t because of the malnourishment. If she has food I know she will walk soon. And my other children are suffering so much. They have nothing.”

 In South Sudan 50,000 children are likely to die from malnourishment unless treatment is scaled up immediately. Save the Children is helping catch children like Sunday before it is too late, but we need your help to reach more.

 Donate to help the children of South Sudan.

*Names changed to protect identities

South Sudan: A Family Torn Apart by Violence


Anonymous

Dan Stewart

Save the Children UK

June 4, 2014

 
 

“We could see and hear the fighting outside,” Majak*, a 77-year-old grandfather in South Sudan tells me. “Men were firing machine guns in the street. Bullets flew through the windows into our building. We lay under the beds to hide.” He was celebrating a family wedding when the violence erupted in Juba (the capital of South Sudan).

Separated from his children in the chaos

“After three days it was safe to leave. When we came out there were dead bodies in the streets, and I heard that there had also been fighting in my home town. It had been overrun and the road back was blocked.”

SSD-cf2-13_BlogDanStewartMajak had no choice. There was only one safe way out of Juba, and it was in the opposite direction to his home. In the chaos his children became separated from him.

“I was so scared thinking of my children. I had no phone and no way to contact them. I was losing my senses in this time. I can barely remember it. I couldn’t eat or sleep. I was not thinking about me, just my children.”

 “I didn’t know what to do”

When he eventually reached safety, he tells me, “I didn’t know what to do. Then I heard Save the Children were looking for children who were alone, and asking people if they had lost their children. So I told them and they said they would try to help.”

Save the Children is working across South Sudan to identify children who have been separated from their parents, give them protection and support, and ultimately reunite them with their families.

It was ten long days before our team brought Majak the news he was desperately hoping for, but feared would never come.

Save the Children reunites another family

His children were safe and well more than 185 miles away in Awerial, where around 100,000 people had fled across the River Nile.

Today, I am talking to Majak and his family on the edge of this tented city. Save the Children brought Majak here to be with his children, and have provided essential aid items to the whole family.

“When I heard my children were okay I was totally, extremely happy. When we saw each other again we all cried with happiness. I thought I was calm but when it happened I couldn’t control my happiness.

“Thank God and Save the Children for finding my children.”

Majak’s youngest, Abiei*, is just 5 years old. When she’s not pulling faces or inviting us for a sleepover she makes one thing clear: “The best thing in this place is being with my father.”

 

To help the children of South Sudan click here.

Prepare Your Family for Hurricanes

Children at Play

Hurricane Sandy devastated the northeastern seaboard in 2012. Make sure your family is ready to respond to hurricanes.

Hurricane season has officially started, so what better time to observe Hurricane Preparedness Week and ensure your family is ready to weather any storm?   Every year, an average of 10 tropical storms develop over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico—and six of them are likely to become hurricanes.  These destructive storms can batter homes and whole communities with high winds, heavy rains, large waves, flooding and hail. Children are particularly vulnerable when disaster strikes, but the simple steps below can help protect your family.

 

10 Tips to Keep Children Safe in Hurricanes

PREPARE:

1. Talk about hurricanes. Spend time with your family discussing why hurricanes occur. Explain that a hurricane is a natural event and not anyone’s fault. Use simple words that even young children can understand.

2. Know your risk. Find out if you live in a hurricane evacuation area. Assess your risks from a storm surge, flooding or wind damage that may accompany a hurricane.

3. Practice evacuation drills. Practice your family evacuation plan so that, during an emergency, you can evacuate quickly and safely.

4. Learn your caregivers’ disaster plans. Ask about evacuation plans and if you would be required to pick up your children from the site or from another location.

5. Stay informed. Use a NOAA weather radio or listen to a local station on a portable, battery-powered radio or television.

 

DURING A HURRICANE:

6. Evacuate if instructed to do so. Evacuate if told to do so by local authorities or if you feel unsafe. If advised to evacuate, avoid flooded roads and watch for washed-out bridges. Local officials may close certain roads, especially near the coast, when effects of the hurricane reach the coast.

7. Stay indoors, if not evacuated. If you are not advised to evacuate, or are unable to do so safely, stay indoors, away from windows, skylights and doors. Continue to monitor weather reports and do not go outside until the storm has passed.

 

AFTER A HURRICANE:

8. Limit media exposure. Protect children from seeing too many sights and images of the hurricane, including those on the internet, television or newspapers.

9. Ensure utilities are available. Before children return to areas impacted by a hurricane, make sure utilities, such as electricity and plumbing, are restored and living and learning spaces (e.g., homes, schools, child care facilities) are free from physical and environmental hazards.

10. Involve children in recovery. After a hurricane, let children help in clean-up and recovery efforts in age-appropriate ways as this participation may increase their sense of control over the situation.

 

Additional Resources: The tips above are just the start of knowing how to prepare for and respond to hurricanes. Use the following resources to help ensure your family is ready for the next hurricane:

 

American Red Cross: Hurricane Preparedness. http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/hurricane

National Hurricane Center: Hurricane Preparedness—Be Ready http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare/ready.php

 

From the Philippines, With Love

The following blog first appeared on The Huffington Post.

_______________________

 

I met with amazing students at an elementary school in Tacloban, which suffered extensive damage during Typhoon Haiyan. Classes are now conducted in tents adorned with the children’s artwork. Photo credit: David Wardell for Save the Children
I met with amazing students at an elementary school in Tacloban, which suffered extensive damage during Typhoon Haiyan. Classes are now conducted in tents adorned with the children’s artwork. Photo credit: David Wardell for Save the Children

Love. If there is a single word that best describes what I witnessed during my visit to the Philippines last week, then that’s it. Love of family. Love of community. Love of people. Love of life.

 

So what better day than Valentine’s Day to celebrate the dedication, perseverance and, of course, love between the communities, families and children in the parts of the country that were devastated by Typhoon Haiyan? I would also like to mention a specific passion that came up over