More than 50 children are attending activities daily at the Child Friendly Space (CFS) in Beira, Mozambique with demand growing since Tropical Cyclone Idai damaged much of the city in mid-March.
The CFS is located at the former kindergarten of SOS Children’s Villages. Most of the children attending the CFS live in the nearby San Pedro shelter for families displaced by Idai.
“Many of these families have lost nearly everything and the shelter lacks the capacity to provide basic services for children," says Simiao Mahumana, National Director of SOS Mozambique. “Children living in temporary shelters are especially at risk of disease and abuse. Our Child Friendly Space offers children a safe and protected environment whilst also providing a place for specialists to evaluate their social, emotional and health needs.”
“You really see how important the CFS is when you look at how happy the children are. Their happiness is an important part of the recovery process, both for the children and their loved ones," Mr. Mahumana says.
The former SOS kindergarten is an ideal location for the CFS, providing a safe place to play outdoors while having classroom space for indoor activities. Like the SOS Children’s Village Beira itself, the kindergarten suffered limited damage during Idai and was quickly repaired for use as a CFS.
SOS Children’s Villages Mozambique worked with a partner organization to get the CFS up and running. More than 150 children are living at the San Pedro shelter of whom 50-60 are attending the CFS daily. More children will be able to attend the CFS as staffing capacity grows.
Counseling and other support
Besides offering educational and recreational activities for children, the SOS Children’s Villages CFS provides:
- Counseling to support the social and emotional well-being of children.
- Hygiene and health awareness sessions for children and adults living in the San Pedro shelter and nearby community.
- Information for mothers on breastfeeding and prevention of cholera and other communicable disease.
- Awareness about gender-based violence prevention and support for those exposed to abuse.
“It is very important to support the children and families living in very vulnerable situations in the coming weeks and months as the community rebuilds," says Mr. Mahumana. “So soon after a disaster like this, children need to feel safe, to be able to enjoy their childhood, but also have access to care and support as their families resume their lives.”
The SOS Children's Villages Child Friendly Space in Beira, Mozambique offers activities for children living at a nearby shelter. Photos: SOS Children's Villages Mozambique.
More about our emergency response in Beira, Mozambique
Tropical Cyclone Idai came ashore near the coastal city of Beira during the night of March 14-15, 2019. The storm caused widespread wind damage and flash floods in central and northern Mozambique, killing more than 600 people and damaging or destroying an estimated 240,000 homes. Flooding damaged croplands in an important agricultural region. The storm also affected neighboring Zimbabwe and Malawi.
The United Nations has estimated that one million children in Mozambique were in need of humanitarian assistance following the storm. The lack of electricity in the city remains a major challenge – including at SOS Children’s Villages programs - affecting security, water pumps and refrigeration.
SOS Children’s Villages Mozambique launched an emergency response program (ERP) to support 700 households (4,200 children and 1,100 adults) affected by Idai. In addition to the Child Friendly Space, the ERP will:
- Support vulnerable families restore their livelihoods and provide emergency relief on a case-by-case basis.
- Provide school supplies and educational material to children so they can resume their education. Many schools were damaged or destroyed during Idai.
- Work with partner organizations to provide health support to children.
- Assist SOS caregivers and other staff in repairing or rebuilding personal homes damaged or lost during the storm. Support is also being provided to address their social and emotional well-being.