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Children in danger on the streets in Bantul

MEDIA RELEASE 1 June 2006

Indonesian Earthquake:
Children in danger on the streets in Bantul


ChildFund is setting up ten safe havens for children while the community rebuilds after the devastating earthquake of May 27.

“ChildFund plans to open ten Child Centred Spaces – a safe place for children to go while adults work at rebuilding the community. These spaces will offer non-formal educational tasks for the children, allowing them a gradual return to normal childhood activities,” says Kirsten Hongisto, ChildFund’s Communications Manager speaking from Bantul.

“Currently the children are out in the streets in the traffic, holding up cardboard signs asking for money for their families so they can rebuild their homes. It is very dangerous for these children, especially the young ones.”

The Child Centred Spaces will offer trauma and shock counselling for children who are suffering from the devastating effects of the earthquake, and grief counselling for those who have lost family members. The centres will also be used to distribute non-food items and nutritional supplements for pregnant women and nursing mothers.

Kirsten Hongisto goes on to say that while some of the community searches through the rubble left behind, others remain dazed and shocked from the events of May 28.

“While some people sift through the rubble of their homes to recover anything that might be salvaged, many others sit in a daze, unable to function, and grieving the loss of family, friends and homes to the earthquake.”

The Bantul area is surrounded by farm land, and while they were able to eke out enough food to feed their families, farmers were not prosperous even before the earthquake struck. Now they are forced to start over.

Schools are closed for at least the week. Some schools were totally destroyed by the earthquake, others badly damaged. But even those schools that survived the earthquake would have few teachers to teach, as they too are trying to rebuild their lives.

The need is great; the challenges are huge. The Indonesian government has been distributing rice, but many thousands of people still need tents to use as temporary shelter. And medical needs continue to be one of the biggest challenges.

Public donations can be made by calling 0800 223 111 or visiting www.childfund.org.nz


ENDS

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