Flood frightens children

Baluwatar, Jhapa 30 August 2017 – “Men fear death as children fear to go in the dark,” says Francis Bacon. Children had to leave their bed midnight amid torrential rains and lack of safe shelter. The massive floods that blanketed almost all parts of the 20 districts in the southern belt of Nepal mid-August reminded people of the adage. The flood adversely impacted the people in many ways, causing damage to various aspects of their life.

One of the impacts of the floods was on education particularly of fairly young children. Children, elderly, pregnant and lactating women, and the people with disability are among the most vulnerable groups to any disaster. Children do not know what to do and lack the capacity to protect themselves in the face of disaster. The recent floods have a huge impact on children in terms of their psyche, health and education.

Jyoti Hasta, a 9-year-old girl from Jhapa Rural Municipality ward no. 2 Baluwatar, was terrified by the flood that inundated her village on the night of 13 August 2017. During midnight, when Jyoti was fast asleep, her mother woke her up and hastily took her away to a neighbor’s house.

“I was fast asleep. My mum woke me up. She hurriedly took us to a neighbor’s house. By the time we woke up, our house had already been waterlogged. Seeing the flood, I thought that I would die,”

said the young girl. When she related the horrendous incident, her face turned dark.

The devastating flood not only horrified her, but also swept away her most intimate objects like books, stationery, bag, shoes, sox, tie, belt, shirt and skirt. She said that she was sad to lose everything and for not being able to go to school. “I became very sad to lose everything I and our family had and for not being able to go to school for two weeks from 14-29 of August,” she said. 

This apart, she was most disturbed by the death of a child of her neighbor. She also came to know that two people were swept away by the flood and they presumed them dead. It further saddened her. She said that since her father was away from home during the catastrophe, she longed for him.  

Although she has lost almost everything, he has not lost hope. She has been going to school, borrowing books from friends and wearing the old school uniform. She also said that particularly children had difficulty in getting food and using toilets.

“We hardly got some food distributed by some local people and organizations in the first few days, but had to wait long even to play as all the ground was still covered either by water or sedimentation,” she said.

A first grader at a private school called Tiny Touch Boarding School, Jyoti said that many of her friends had also been badly affected by the floods.

As children are more resilient compared to adults, we saw her playing with her friends on an open ground in front of her damaged house. It seems that despite being very young she is aware of the impacts of the flood on her family and neighbours.

“Children have begun falling ill,” she said. She also said that many children from her vicinity had been facing difficulty in reading and doing homework as they have lost their books and stationery and their parents lack money even to buy basic food, forget about buying school materials for their children.


Story by Ram Sharan Sedhai and photo by Yogendra Gurung, LWF Nepal.