While there has been a lot of time and effort dedicated to rebuilding and providing immediate relief to the earthquake survivors, it is equally important that the issue of mental and emotional health is also being addressed. Having survived not one, but two major earthquake and with the continuous trauma of over 100 aftershocks, there is already evidence that the quakes have impacted mental health. Words have changed their meanings – ‘Ayo’, which roughly means ‘arrived’, used to be what children called out when lights came back on after power outage –but now hearing that same word results in terror and panic as it is synonymous ‘to run for your life’ and ‘evacuate’. These earthquakes have not only incited widespread fear, but also created uncertainty about what the future will hold and the feeling of powerlessness and lack of control one has over forces bigger than oneself – furthering tragic mental instability.
RF’s program ‘Happy Times’ – demonstration of earthquake safety by Miss. Riju and Arya Aryal being shown in front of all the participants.
Rukmini Foundation saw the need to alleviate the mental and emotional stress, especially amongst children and young adults, and decided to launch a community happiness program with it partners titled “Happy Times” on Saturday, May 30. This program was conducted to address a broad range of children’s emotions and concerns after the earthquakes. The program aimed to restore social cohesion and children’s faith. Social work trainees from both St. Xavier’s College and K&K International College helped facilitate the sessions. Two programs were conducted on the same day – one in Utiki village and another in Kopu Gaon village.
Miss Riju, our program host, encourages a little boy to share his experiences during the earthquake with rest of the group
The program provided a safe environment where students felt comfortable to open up about their experiences and share their feelings. Children were given suitable written materials to read, write, and understand strategies for earthquake safety and recovery. There were various icebreaker activities and children were divided into groups to discuss earthquake coping strategies. For the smaller age group, activities included teaching them proper hygiene techniques such as washing their hands. There were also fun activities, such as dancing and singing, to help lighten the mood, with snacks and drinks that followed. “This type of program has been done for the first time in this village and I am so glad that we were part of it.” – Chadanni, Class 8.
Group Four’s activities and discussions on Earthquake safety being led by Rukmini Scholar Anjana.
RF hopes to make ‘The Happy Times’ an ongoing effort towards Mental and Physical well-being as part of our post-earthquake recovery program. It is evident that these earthquakes have drastically changed people’s lives and disrupted daily activities. Parents encountered economic losses and the emotional trauma and apprehension of future aftershocks led children to remain within their boundaries at homes, causing the ongoing vicious cycle of mental trauma. By holding events like this regularly, we will stay informed on the children’s coping mechanism and track their recovery progress. Our associate program officer, Arya Aryal explains that “Returning to a normal life not only includes going back to routine but also restoring happiness, comfort, and faith in the community”.
Participants with RF Mentor Prakriti (Far right) enjoying their snacks after the ‘Happy Time’ Program
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
To support our scholars and their communities, you can give to: Rukmini Foundation Earthquake Relief Fund
The money you donate will go towards providing families who have become homeless with the goods they need to survive. Rukmini Foundation is operating Mobile Health Clinics in order to provide health care to communities that have been affected by the Earthquake. We are also conducting educational programs on earthquake safety, mental health and awareness. The foundation is currently looking into temporary residence options for families who have lost their homes so that they won’t have to suffer as monsoon season approaches.
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