“I really want to return to school soon”


Anonymous manFan Xiaowen, Program Manager 

Sichaun, China

April 29, 2013


Xinqun, age 12,
grabbed her 6-month-old baby sister when the earthquake struck and ran to an
open area, away from her home.

Both sisters were
unhurt in the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck on April 20th,
2013, that killed at least 190 people and injuring at least 11,000 others.
Xinqun learnt to react in an earthquake after her school
started holding earthquake drills, highlighting the importance of preparing
children for disasters in these quake-prone areas.

“The roof collapsed,
and the walls cracked. But thank goodness that no one was hurt,” she said.

Zhang_Xiquan_Blog_April_2013The two sisters live
with their grandparents and mother. Their father works in Kangding while their
elder sister works in a factory in Lushan. Both were in quake-hit areas, but
were unharmed.

“The first night after
the earthquake, we slept in a makeshift shelter and we had hardly any food to
eat. Even my mother did not seem to have enough breast milk to feed my 6 month
old baby sister,” Xinqun said.

“Each time there was
an aftershock, I was very scared.”

Yuxi Village is
Baosheng township’s most remote village. It took more than a day for the rescue
crew reach them and set up a camp site for them. On the evening of April 21st, Xinqun and her family had a tent over their heads and received bottled
water, instant noodles and rice from the government rescue team.

“I wished my sister
could have some diapers,” Xinqun said. “She wets the bed now without any
diapers at night, so I hope we can get her some soon. “

When Save the Children arrived the following day, we were told that no
other aid (besides the dry foods, bottled water and shelter) had reached the
quake-affected population but the people needed essential items such as
diapers, towels and soaps. As such, a range of immediate relief items were distributed, including towels, sanitary napkins, soaps, hand sanitizer, raincoats, plastic
tarp, toilet paper and baby diapers
to 148 families in Yuxi village, reaching 200 adults and 244 children.

Xinqun came on behalf
of her family to collect the relief items. “I’m glad
that my baby sister has diapers now,” she said.

Xinqun also hopes to
return to school soon. She studies in a primary school in Lushan, and comes
home to spend time with her family on weekends.  

“We could not contact
the teachers or the school after the earthquake so I did not go back to
school,” she said.  

“I really want to
return to school soon.”

Being there, staying there


StevewellsSteve Wells,
– Emergencies Logistics Manager

Atlantic City, New Jersey 

November 4, 2012


Things change.  Everything
from changes in the weather to the addition or loss of a family member, we’ve
all experienced how changes both big and small canshape our lives.

Emergency situations also change, frequently and often with
little advance warning.In the past two days, our Hurricane Sandy response team
has seen many of the children and families residing in New Jersey and New York community
shelterson the move again. They’re gathering the few belongings they can carry
on their backsand loading packed busesen route to longer-term mega shelters.

This progression is not unusual, as it means that the
families are a step closer to returning home. But more moving means more change
for kids. And many changes, especially in an unfamiliar situation, can take a
toll on children, who rely on the familiar to feel safe and secure.

Save the Children wants to help provide children with a
sense of familiarity through structuredactivities in our Child-Friendly Spaces,
and when the kids move, we move with them.

Yesterday, we met Dayvon, an exuberant 6-year-old who sang
while he colored pictures of his friends on a large banner in our Child-Friendly
Space in northern New Jersey.  Although
he made new friends at the shelter, he sorely missed his friends from home
saying, “I really hope that they are okay. I don’t know where they are.”

During our scheduled Child-Friendly Space time, Dayvon’s
shelter got the call to close down and transport its residents to a larger
shelter where the populations of a dozen smaller shelters would be
consolidated. When Dayvon’s mom returned to space to tell him it was time to
leave, Dayvon started to cry. He didn’t want to move again, he didn’t want to
leave his new friends and the familiar faces of the Save the Children staff.  Eventually, his mom was able to calm him and
we gave him the banner the children had colored together.  Before he walked out the door, he peeked over
his shoulder and said “see you later,” which melted our hearts, as we didn’t
know where Dayvon and his mother were headed,or if we would see him later.

Our team quickly identified the new shelter sites and
mobilized our staff to set up Child-Friendly Spaces in the new locations.  We drove 2-3 hours, worked with shelter
management and by the time we were carrying activity kits in the door, a dozen
buses were offloading  and in the shuffle
we heard a cheerful , “Hey!” It was Dayvon and his mother, Dayvon still
clinging to the poster we had made together hundreds of miles and several hours
before.

That moment was truly the highlight of Save the Children’s
response thus far. Seeing Dayvon’s beaming, toothy smile and knowing that we’re
helping give these kids a sense of consistency and normalcy despite their constantly
changing circumstances. In the new shelter we’ve seen many of the children we
worked with previously at smaller shelters and, for each one of the kids, it’s
a happy reunion.  And that’s what it’s
all about — not just being there when the disaster hits, but staying there and
ensuring children and families have the resources they need to cope with
disaster and rebuild their lives.

There are still
thousands of families living in shelters unable to storm-ravaged home and we
plan to stick with them, even when the media cameras have left and public
attention is diverted.Thank you for your support and following us through the
Hurricane Sandy response.

 Please give generously to our Hurricane Sandy Relief fund or Text
HURRICANE to 20222 to donate $10 to Hurricane Sandy Relief from your
mobile phone. When you receive a text message, reply YES. (Standard text
messaging rates apply.) Read the fine print.

Keeping Expectant Mothers and Children Protected during Wildfires

DeMarrais picJeanne-Aimee De Marrais, Advisor, Domestic Emergencies, Save the Children

Washington, D.C.

June 28, 2012


Wildfires continue to wreak havoc in Colorado, forcing more than 32,000 people to evacuate their homes, and destroying over 15,000 acres of land, according to this report by Reuters.

Of the thousands of families uprooted by the Colorado fires, or during any disaster for that matter, pregnant women and children are often the most vulnerable. That’s why Save the Children is releasing the following two-partguidance—a combination of tips from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and our own disaster preparedness experts—tohelp expectant mothers and families with young children stay safe and protected during the Colorado wildfires or any fire emergency. 

Tips for expectant mothers and parents with young children facing evacuation

  • Be prepared to evacuate quickly and have important items (such as copies of medical records and medications) ready to go— you may not have much time.
  • When checking into a shelter or temporary housing, alert the staff if you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant.
  • If pregnant, seek prenatal care even if it is not with your usual provider. 
  • Make sure health care providers at the shelter know about any special needs or health problems that you or your child have, or any medicines you might be taking (both over the counter and prescription.)
  • If you don’t have your infant’s medicine with you, ask health care providers at the shelter for assistance in getting it.
  • Make sure your baby gets plenty of breast milk or formula, and you drink enough water.
  • Pregnant women and children should stay indoors, if possible, to keep from Avoid breathing smoke or fumes, rest often and stay indoors if possible.
  • If you’re pregnant, rest often and get plenty of water.

 (Guidelines derived from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. To see the complete guidance–Wildfires: Information for Pregnant Women and Parents of Young Infants–please visit http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/Emergency/WildFires.htm)

For more information on how to keep you and your children safe during a wildfire, visit the website of the Center for Disease and Control Prevention.

General fire safety tips for families

Save the Children wishes to remind parents, teachers, and caregivers about the importance of child fire safety. About 80 percent of all fire-related deaths and injuries occur in the home, and young children are at a particularly high risk. They may not understand the danger or may not be able to escape. Children under the age of 5 account for almost half of all home fire victims. Children in the poorest homes face the greatest risk of death. Every family member should know exactly what to do in case of a fire emergency. Precious seconds can be lost when someone can’t find a way out in the dark or does not know how to release a window lock. Having a family fire safety plan and practicing it will save lives.

Here are some tips for keeping families safe. For further guidance specific to your community, contact your local fire department.

  • Talk to children about fire safety. Children accidentally set many of the fires that harm them. Teach children not to play with matches and lighters. If they see matches or lighters within reach, teach them not to touch but go tell a grown up right away.
  • Teach children the DON’T HIDE, GO OUTSIDE rule in the event of a fire. Fires are scary, but they should NEVER hide in closets or under beds when there is a fire.
  • To escape during a fire, teach children to FALL & CRAWL. It is easier to breath in a fire if you stay low while getting out. Use the back of your hand to test if a door is hot before you open it. If it is hot, try to use another way out.
  • Practice STOP, DROP and ROLL: If clothes catch on fire, don’t run.  Stop where you are, drop to the ground and roll your body back and forth until the fire is out.  Running makes the fire burn faster.
  • Teach children to never go back into a burning building for any reason.  If someone is missing, tell a firefighter.
  • Make a family fire plan and practice it. The plan should include identifying two exits from each room and marking an outside meeting place. Practice escaping by both exits to be sure windows are not stuck and screens can be quickly taken out.
  • Make sure street signs and address numbers are easily visible so fire trucks and emergency responders can find where they need to be.
  • Teach children what a fire alarm sounds like and make sure that it will effectively wake them in the middle of the night.
  • Ensure smoke detectors are installed on every floor and in the sleeping areas of your home, and that batteries are changed twice per year. Carbon Monoxide detectors are also recommended. Test these alarms to make sure they can effectively wake family members.
  • If there are security bars or locks on doors, make sure all family members know how to release them.  All family members should be able to escape from the second floor.
  • Know your local emergency number. Put stickers and magnets with emergency numbers on your refrigerator and every telephone in the house.

Parents should also take steps to learn about their child’s school or child care fire safety plan, as part of an overall emergency plan. They should also ensure that any family friends have evacuation plans in case a child spends the night elsewhere.