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Apart from homes, many schools were destroyed or damaged, and children were unable to continue their education for quite some time. Save the Children therefore set up Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) / Temporary Learning Centres (TLC) in 118 villages, to ensure safery and education for children. Many of these CFS’ functioned as alternative ICDS and Primary Schools at the behest of the state government, where children are provided care, protection, learning and recreation by local teachers, trained care givers and volunteers from the community. Along with this, Save the Children also helped communities recover through its ‘Cash for Work’ program and also provided Direct Cash Transfer to the most affected people as livelihood support.
In the wake of the floods, thousands of children residing in the region were severely affected by the floods. Many of them lost their parents, saw the destruction of their homes and schools and are yet to fully recover from deep stresses and losses. “The job is not over yet, as children in Uttarakhand are still living on the edge even as their lives are gradually returning to normalcy. They still get scared when it starts raining and are anxiously watching out for this year’s monsoon,” Ray Kancharla, Save the Children’s National Manager for Humanitarian Response, said. He added, “The impact is so huge that little hearts of children can’t contain it. A child in a village in Tehri District let the heart out depicting through an outburst of a song the experience on this unfortunate day when his village was washed away by the floods. From now, we must move into Child Centred and Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction initiatives. This is an area that the Government and Civil Society can work together in order to be better prepared for any future crises that may strike.”
Save the Children positioned itself and delivered critical humanitarian assistance in areas which were hitherto unreached while at the same time also contributing towards strengthening relief efforts of state government. “Our interventions have been designed to ensure that affected children (and their families) can continue to enjoy a safe and secure childhood, with access to their rights in the aftermath of the disaster. Our teams are continuing to work in the four worst affected districts – Uttarkashi, Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Tehri Garhwal,” informed Pradeep Kumar, who led the NGO’s response in Uttarakhand.
Save the Children’s response draws from the fact that, this time around, it is the survivors who have been affected who would need support right up to the point so that their lives return to normal. While, their families are trying hard to rebuild their lives, psycho-social support to these children is necessary to strengthen their confidence to overcome those harsh memories. “Full restoration of infrastructure damaged by the floods, to ensure normalcy in education and health services, remains a critical need,” added Kancharla. “Given the harsh economic status of people residing here, with a slack in tourism this year, much more support needs to continue to flow to those affected by the floods last year.”
Save the Children concluded a 3-day training during June 2014 in Mussoorie of its Emergency Roster Team, which will enable the organization to respond faster and better in any future calamity across India. Save the Children focuses on the areas of education, health and protection for children, apart from its humanitarian work and is currently engaged in 16 states within India.