Safe spaces help children recover from Solomon Islands tsunami

Solomon Islands children, parents and teachers have benefited from Child Friendly Spaces established following the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck in an eastern province a year ago.

The Child Friendly Space project, set up by World Vision Solomon Islands following the Temotu earthquake and tsunami of 6 February 2013, has helped more than 300 children heal and recover from the emotional and psychological effects of the disaster.  

The project provided a structured and safe place where children and youth could meet to play, learn competencies to deal with risks they face, be involved in educational activities and relax.

Dorcas Iwa, a 21-year-old teacher who looked after 33 children at Nea CFS says the project has helped the children. .“The children have greatly enjoyed learning, and interacting in their environment with lots of resources to share and play with,” Iwa said.

Parents also benefitted, as the spaces provided them the opportunity to resume work and rebuild their lives, knowing their children were being looked after in a safe and fun environment.

Christina Ipona, a 29-year-old resident of Nea says World Vision has helped her 2-year-old grow and heal and allowed her time to attend to other family commitments.

“I sometimes joined the other women to help the teachers look after the children whenever we were  free to spend time with them,” says Ipona.

“I would like to join other members of our community to thank World Vision for the projects they have helped us with especially the CFS and the water project.”

As part of the project, World Vision provided training to 29 teachers, covering Child Protection, Psychological First Aid and Child Friendly Spaces.

In August, the Child Friendly Spaces project merged with longer term Early Childhood Education activities facilitated by World Vision in Temotu.

“Our temporary CFS classrooms have now been dismantled but the children are happy to be returning to their long term schools now,” says Ipona. “They now forgot about the earthquake and tsunami and it’s good to see them smiling every day.”

World Vision worked in partnership with the Temotu Province Education Authority to implement the six month project.  Fve Child Friendly Spaces were established, providing temporary shelter and resources, and 10 Early Childhood Education centres affected by the disaster were rehabilitated.