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Philippine floods: preparing children

Written by Sarah Ireland, Humanitarian Emergency Operations Manager for Save the Children Australia

Recent rains have caused flooding in parts of the Philippines, affecting over three million people and forcing many out of their homes and into evacuation centres, or homes of nearby relatives or friends.

Save the Children has responded to the flooding and has so far reached more than 2,300 families with household kits, jerrycans of water and hygiene kits.

But Save the Children doesn’t just respond after an emergency happens – we also work in schools to help students and their families prepare for disasters before they happen.

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)

In a school in Laguna, a heavily flood-affected area south of the capital of Manila, Save the Children had been running a Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) programme for children in both primary and high schools.

Ronalyn, a 17-year-old girl who’s living in her old high school (now an evacuation centre) after her house was damaged by the floods, said that the programme taught her how to better prepare herself and her family for disasters.

“In our house we have a plan for any disaster. I know where to go and what to do if there is an earthquake, a flood or a fire, and now so do my family.”

When the instruction was given to evacuate her home, Ronalyn and her father already had their ‘go bag’ containing clothes, pillows, sheets and a flashlight.

She also took the medals she won at school as she didn’t want to lose them.

Children teaching children

Ronalyn was taught to prepare for disasters with 45 other students at her school, who were also given the skills to teach their peers.

Between them, they taught over 800 students and teachers what to do if there was a fire, flood or earthquake.

They painted arrows on the walls of the school showing students where to go in an evacuation and ran drills using the bells, whistles, flags, tarpaulins and flashlights given to them by Save the Children.

They also set up a ‘DRR corner’ in every class so students could see the evacuation plan and safe areas, and updates on DRR activities in the community.

“Save the Children also gave us a medicine kit and taught us first aid. I now feel really confident that I could help someone if they were hurt and needed help,” says Ronalyn.

Lives turned upside down

The students were working on a DRR room on the ground floor, designing a mural to paint on the walls to make it fun for students to visit, but unfortunately that room is now completely under water.

Ronalyn is in her first year of college but has missed classes since the flooding because she can’t afford the cost of the boat ride to get to the campus.

Instead, she helps out at the evacuation centre as a Young Movers Emergency Response Team Leader.

Ronalyn records the names of all the evacuees, helps out with the distribution of relief items and assists the teachers who run the centre.

Ronalyn doesn’t know when she’ll be able to return home. The last time she saw her house, the flood water had reached the ceiling.

Although she wants to return home and start attending college again, she thinks she’s going to be living in the evacuation centre, her former school, for many more months until the flood waters finally recede.

If you would like to support our work in emergencies, please donate to Save the Children’s Emergency Fund, which allows us to respond quickly when disaster strikes.

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