Journey of Hope for kids in Christchurch, New Zealand
One year ago today, Christchurch, New Zealand, was hit by a powerful earthquake, the second large quake in six months.
I was in New Zealand at the time and was as shocked as everyone else to see the unfolding catastrophe and images of devastation on the lunchtime news.
My 97 year old grandmother couldn’t bear to watch. She was taken back to the devastating earthquake that struck Napier in 1931.
Loss of life
Whilst, almost unbelievably, nobody was killed when the first earthquake hit, in September 2010, sadly, the February 2011 quake claimed the lives of 185 people and wreaked much more damage.
The first quake hit in the middle of the night, the second at lunchtime, as children were at school and parents at home or work.
You can imagine the panic and frantic calls both between family members in the city and from around the country and world as people tried to find out whether their loved ones were safe.
Living in fear
Wherever in the world such a natural disaster strikes, children will be frightened and in need of help quickly from people they trust.
And speaking to friends and family who live in Christchurch, that fear has not gone away. Aftershocks continue to shake the city but, as one friend tells me, you start to sleep through the small ones, not leaping from your bed at every small quiver of the earth.
One year on, many children in the city are still feeling the psychological after-effects of living through a large-scale natural disaster.
They are scared of sleeping or being alone, they constantly worry about family members and they are unable to talk about how they feel.
Journey of Hope
Our Journey of Hope programme, run with partner organisations in New Zealand, is helping children and their families to rebuild their lives.
Skilled local psychologists and therapists work with children to help them cope with their stress, as well as teaching them ways to keep safe during potential future earthquakes.
And it’s having an amazing impact.
One child who took part in the programme was then able to sleep in their own bed for the first time in six months – just one success story from the 500 children and families who have completed the Journey of Hope to date.
Today, as we remember those who lost their lives in the earthquake, we also remember that wherever in the world such devastation occurs, children and their families will struggle to rebuild their lives and try and get back to a sense of normality.
Find out more about our the Journey of Hope programme here.
If you’d like to contribute to Save the Children Emergency Fund, to support children caught up in emergencies wherever they are, you can donate online or call +44 (0)20 7012 6400.