Not only are their bodies more prone to greater injury and suffering, but they are the ones who suffer the longest from psychosocial trauma.
Children are not little adults, and their needs are so different in every way, ranging from nutrition, medicine administration, and ability to communicate their needs.
And if they’re an unaccompanied minor, they’re even more vulnerable.
The youngest and those with certain disabilities cannot even escape the danger without help from an older person.
Many children in the schools were trapped on the first floor and drowned when the storm surge came. Those who were on higher floors survived.
I mentioned in the previous post the babies all placed into boxes and quickly brought to safety on the second floor of the hospital where an intern was working.
An important part of their recovery and healing is to resume normal activities as soon as possible, such as meals, school and play.
I was reading that UNICEF was opening several Child-Friendly Spaces last week in the area, which is one of their areas of expertise.
The next wave of problems, now that we’re 4 weeks out, is illness and deaths due to malnutrition and starvation in a population that already had high malnutrition rates in children under 5 pre-disaster.
One of Dr. Chopstix’s patients was a 3-year old girl he saw the day they had clinic in the most severely affected area.
Her mother said every time she saw the ocean she covered her ears and got really scared.
During the clinic that day, the wind started whipping up the tarps again, and the team could see the fear returning to people’s eyes.
Eyes already haunted by utter destruction of everything around them.
Somebody asked the village leader for a table, and he just raised his hands and said he had no idea where they might be.
I cannot imagine how incapacitated one might feel after the whole world has been thrown into a blender and flung out at random.
Including your most precious children.
What a horrible word.
One unforgettable story goes like this:
A woman was on her wooden bed with her 4 month old infant son when the storm hit at 6 am in the San Jose district.
The winds tore apart her home, and the wave of water carried her bed out onto the bay and across the wind-whipped sea about 5 km over to another part of Tacloban.
She managed to cling to the bed and hold onto her baby, and eventually they reached the other side.
When the water receded, they were sitting on the roof of a house very close to her church.
Miraculously she was able to keep the baby alive and warm by holding him close to her chest and breastfeeding him.
Yet another reason to promote breastfeeding everywhere, all the time.
Second miracle, all the parishioners from that particular church managed to survive the storm, and a core group are committed to helping rebuild.