Friday, February 19, 2016

Minute for Mission - Presbyterian Disaster Assistance: Rebuilding Lives from the Ground Up

“This is so much fun! I could swing here for the rest of my life,” screams six-year-old Roshan Karki, who can now use a swing for the first time in his life, thanks to his temporary new home in emergency housing—supported by Finn Church Aid, ACT Alliance, and PDA. 
In early 2015, in a span of just two short weeks, Nepal was rocked by two massive earthquakes that devastated the tiny country. More than 500,000 homes were destroyed, 280,000 more were damaged, and nearly 9,000 people died.
Young boys in temporary shelter enjoy a meal provided by ACT Alliance partners in Nepal
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) was on the ground almost immediately. Today, many months after the second quake, PDA continues its response with disaster assistance through its partnership with ACT Alliance and their local Nepali partner organizations. Their response capitalizes on ACT’s substantial experience in developing humanitarian programs to distribute aid to more than 200,000 earthquake-affected individuals, including:
  • Ready-to-eat food and food rations
  • Family water treatment and personal hygiene kits
  • Tarps for emergency shelter
  • Basic survival items like kitchen utensils, baby kits, and quilts
But there is unique concern for hundreds of thousands of children who have been distressed, displaced, and traumatized by the horrific devastation that surrounds them. Numerous aftershocks contribute to the fear of entering buildings, for parents and children alike. PDA has worked as a member of ACT Alliance to support Finn Church Aid, an organization that specializes in arranging education in catastrophes, by building 300 temporary schools and child-friendly spaces that enable children to return to school and to a sense of normalcy.
Students prefer studying in the temporary buildings, as their construction from bamboo, canvas, and corrugated iron makes them lighter than permanent structures. Finn Church Aid offers much more than just structural support; it also provides emotional support to Nepalese children. Special education teacher Johanna Kurki organizes teacher training and psychosocial support in disaster areas.
“My work focuses on training the teachers. We give them a box of tools—practical instructions on how, as teachers, they can support children after a catastrophe,” she says. The most important thing is to meet and listen to the children openly. Games, visual arts, and drama are good tools to help children recover from trauma, according to Kurki.
This is just one example of how PDA partners with groups on the ground in disaster-affected areas. Your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing are having a huge impact on the lives of nearly 900,000 Nepalese children who need your support to overcome the trauma of earthquake devastation and, ultimately, to continue their education.
Please, give generously to One Great Hour of Sharing to help the children of Nepal.
Learn more about the projects supported by One Great Hour of Sharing Partners around the world with this interactive map

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