Monday, November 15, 2010

Calm after the Storm

Since last week, Barbados and other islands that were affected by Tomas, are picking up the pieces, cleaning up debris and many families are looking for normalcy in their lives. Last Thursday, my supervisor went into St. Lucia for a few hours to write a story for a fundraising appeal with the UK UNICEF national committee. I am starting to understand the coordination among organizations necessitated by working in this type of emergency. For example, UNICEF’s mandate is to ensure the security and livelihood of women and children, therefore, UNICEF supplies – hygiene kits, bottled water, recreational and school supplies, and water purification tablets – are supposed to be helping children, more than just the general population. Not such an easy task on the ground, especially when the communities nearest the port get news of 5,000 5L water jugs coming in hours.

Also, when one of the programme staff, Elaine, was in St. Lucia to do training for the Return to Happiness programme, she was saying that one of the elements is to have a positive message song to begin and end the session. So, as she so hilariously demonstrated by singing and doing a little dance in the latest meeting, the children involved chose Shakira’s opening of the FIFA World Cup anthem Waka Waka (This is Africa) – replacing “Africa” so it ends “This is St. Lucia.” Okay, it’s pretty darn cute.

Apparently a lack of drinking water is the major issue right now, so the purification tablets are important if people are drinking from streams so as to prevent a cholera outbreak. And conditions are right, as they are also in Haiti, for child abuse, with shelters packed, adults and children sleeping together and children generally left unsupervised.

Some photos from St. Lucia:

The Child Protection Specialist Heather took some photos in St. Lucia with the Return to Happiness kits that we spent almost a week sorting out and packing. The aim is to help children come to terms with emotions and concerns following a natural disaster and work through them in small groups. Here are some images:

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