Finding Kajin

"Namaste, Namaste," chant the children as they twirl round and round under the comforting shade of World Vision’s child friendly space tent.

12-year-old Kajin enthusiastically dashes to reach the area where other children gather
to start the day’s extra-curricular activities. Gently clasping the volunteer’s hand he swings into the circle of action, imitating each dance move.

The day the earthquake walloped the nation of Nepal, Kajin was on his way to join a new school hostel. A little anxious about his new venture Kajin looked forward to the adventures of hostel life.

"My parents were escorting me to join the hostel in school that day. We were buying a night-clothes for my hostel. I was excited to get new shoes. When we were buying all these things the ground started shaking very badly," he says.

Experiencing an earthquake for the first time in his life, Kajin’s mind clicked snap-shots of the macabre imagery unraveling before him.

"After the quake, there was a fear in me, fear to do anything."

"People were running everywhere. They were screaming loudly, ‘save me, save me’. We ran to the open grounds. My house is on top of a slope, when we reached home I saw it was damaged and cracked," says Kajin.

Etched in his memory Kajin was unable to purge the scenes of that frightful day out of his mind, shoving him towards safety in solitude.

"When he first came to our child friendly space, he didn’t want to interact with anyone.
He didn’t want to play. He sat in one corner and wanted didn’t speak to anyone," says Pawan a volunteer at the World Vision’s child friendly space.

"After the quake, there was a fear in me, fear to do anything," says Kajin.

"After any disaster, people experience strong psychosomatic stress, especially children. It is normal for children to express such stress. But it is very vital that the basic needs of the children are met and they are able to get back to their normal routine. That is why child friendly spaces are important. They gives an opportunity for children to express themselves through various forms of activities like art, play and it is also an area where children can connect with others like them facing similar distressing experiences. The different activities help the children get over their stress and paves a way for them to go back to their normal lives like getting back to school," says Makhiba Yamano, World Vision’s Child Protection Specialist.

Though his introduction into the child friendly space was a gradual process, images of damage and destruction were steadily being superseded by images of children playing with one another and doing artwork.

Kajin says, "I used to be scared earlier but after coming here I am happy. It took time but my fear disappeared. I like the volunteers, they care for me a lot. We get to play here. We get to read here. I have made new friends. I am happy here because I get to learn new things here. We also get to play different games and sports like football, volleyball, and ludo board game. Football is my favourite sport.”

Kajin’s life is on a gradually trajectory towards normality. "I want to be an engineer. We need to know good math and drawing skills to become an engineer and math is my favourite subject because we have calculations. I love to draw too," says Kajin.

Currently, as part of the Nepal earthquake emergency response World Vision has set up 25 Child Friendly Spaces which are attended by 1,883 children.