“I don’t know when I can go back to school. The school was damaged, and my friends have been scattered. I don’t know where they are now”
“I was praying in the prayer room near my home when the earthquake happened,” says 10-year-old Selsi. “Suddenly my hand was being pulled by my uncle. He said that the seawater was rising. Everything happened so fast.”
Selsi lost her best friend when the powerful earthquake and tsunami struck Central Sulawesi in Indonesia. “Wulan was praying near me. I didn’t have time to grab her hand. She was inside the Musholla (prayer room) and I saw the roof collapse. I could run and save my own life, but not Wulan,” says Selsi, unable to hide the sadness in her eyes.
A 5th grade student, Selsi wants to get back to school and study with her friends, but she will have to wait. Her school was among the more than 1,500 that were damaged by the earthquake, leaving almost 200,000 students with nowhere to study. “I don’t know when I can go back to school. The school was damaged, and my friends have been scattered. I don’t know where they are now,” she says.
Selsi has been living in an evacuation camp close to where her home used to be, before it was swept away by the tsunami.
She spends her day playing with the friends she has found at a mobile recreation space set up by Plan International. Here, children can forget their sadness for a while, learn and play and just be children again. Nine spaces were set up across Sulawesi reaching hundreds of children with learning activities and support.
As well as finding a safe place to play and socialize, children are also learning good hygiene practices, such as the importance of washing their hands before eating. They are also receiving training in how to keep themselves safe in disaster situations through a game of snakes and ladders that helps them recognize the signs of disaster and shows them what they should do in an emergency situation.
For now, Selsi has a place to go and the support she needs to cope with the trauma she has faced.
The Humanitarian Coalition and Plan Canada are working to ensure that children like Selsi will soon be back in school and their families will be able to rebuild their homes and their lives.