Safe Spaces post Cyclone Fani: A stitch in time

The child friendly spaces that World Vision India initiated in cyclone Fani affected communities in Bhubaneswar

Bhubaneswar: The widespread destruction left by Cyclone Fani is evident in Bhubaneswar, but less visible is the psychological and emotional trauma inflicted by the storm that swept the entire coast of Orissa, India.

Catastrophic cyclone Fani blew away the roofs of thousands of homes, leaving people under the mercy of the scorching summer sun. Not only did the cataclysm destroyed crops, agricultural lands, trees, buildings and household items, but it has also shattered the dreams of thousands of students. Children with drenched textbooks, torn backpacks and broken pens and pencils, feel hopeless and are worried to go back to their roofless homes.
“Children are extremely vulnerable in situations like these”, said Tabitha Vani, World Vision India’s Child Protection Specialist. She further added that “Apart from physical dangers such as being hit by flying debris, children can get separated from their parents in the chaos, and in the aftermath they are susceptible to communicable diseases. We will do everything in our power to meet any needs of these children and families. It is wonderful to see children playing, drawing and to hear so much laughter. The cyclone affected displaced children have been through so much hardship, so being able to offer these safe places to children means they can forget about their troubles and start to rebuild.”

Despite hard times children affected by Cyclone Fani in Bhubaneshwar, can now feel safe as World Vision India has started setting up Child Friendly Spaces (CFS)* in the communities. Around 13 child friendly spaces will be set up in Bhubaneshwar alone to engage with children and provide a safe place for them.

Here, the children can play, and get psycho social support for the trauma they are undergoing. It will also help to keep an eye on the children who are at a heightened risk of sexual abuse in this environment when they are not at home and mixing with hundreds of people, many of whom are strangers. More than 85 children have dropped by the center since we set it up.

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