One of the great thing about my job is that it brings me to places full of extraordinary people.
In July I got to go to Nepal to work on the child protection response of Goal and its partner, the Umbrella Foundation.
Kathmandu in the rain. the signs of the earthquake are obvious everywhere, piles of bricks, bamboos and metal pillars holding cracked buildings. Lots of scars. Many people whose life now has a before and an after moment. Through the rumble and stories, there is the incredible beauty of people's humanity, the story of their love and care for their family and their community.
Makeshift camps and plastic tents are spread all over, in luxurious hotel grounds, on the lawn of the palace, on the banks of the river, between houses... and through and through the will to get going, back to normal.
I mainly got to spend time in Nuwakot region, in the hills a couple of hours away from Kathmandu. I was hosted with Umbrella's team there. The team is composed of a dynamic group of youngsters with a fricking enormous vontade to do something and make life after the earthquake as good as possible.
Their job is not easy, they all went through the two shakes, some lost their house, or a family member.
All saw something deep crumble.
Then they stood up. Some of the guys responded immediately, not sleeping or caring for themselves for days, solely focused in helping others.
Now, months after the quake, they are still there. They go to places that are extremely hard to reach, walking for hours and days on mountain slopes, facing the real danger of mountain slides, for the ground moved and the rains are making it even more unstable. They go to remote villages to check on people, the state of the schools, orphans, how people survive... They are the real life souls who, collectively, enable the government's emergency response to reach out everywhere, as quickly as possible and in the best way as possible. Natural disasters today are killing five time less than a hundred years ago, thanks to professional responses, preparedness and the improved possibility we now have to bring assistance and organize support.
These youngsters are employed by Umbrella, to implement the government strategies, paid by a UNICEF fund raised all over the world, and their interventions is similar to the one of hundreds of other volunteers involved in dozen other organizations. Pretty impressive.
Aside from working in the villages, at household levels, they also set up and support Child Friendly Spaces. CFS are places, tents really, set up in camps or in neighborhoods when normality stops, to offer children activities, possibility to talk, to address protection issues, to get back to a routine...
Child protection organizations have shown all over the world that people, communities and families are really needing CFS or education facilities in places where normality disappeared. They even value it more than health, hygiene and sanitation facilities. School and play-places bring back a sense of normality, a routine that is extremely important. It calms and makes people feel better.
It gives perspectives.
I get to meet the people that are working in creating perpectives when things are bad.
How cool is that?
In a CFS we play, we draw, we talk and learn. Teachers and assistants are caring for the kids every day. Umbrella is assisting them with ideas for activities, and ways to detect when a kid is struggling, and how to respond to stress or abuse. For that job their team is made of seasoned social workers but also teenagers -some with difficult backgrounds- and... an Irish women! Aideen is a math teacher in Khazakstan who travels by taxi and takes her holidays to train youngsters without families to help kids smiling in camps in Nepal. She is beautiful. Seems that umbrella is successful in gathering inspiring people, working with professionalism and passion. Respect to all the Caroline, Tsewang, RajKumar, and the others.