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Children’s Day at the Ecuador Earthquake Shelters!

As part of the Earthquake Engineering Field Investigation Team (EEFIT) mission and conducting a community vulnerability assessment to earthquake disasters, I visited earthquake refugee shelters in Canoa and Jama, Manabi province, Ecuador. On the day that I visited these communities, it was the 1st of June, known as Children’s Day (Día del Niño), when children up to 12 years old receive gifts. Our community vulnerability team surveyed three shelters: two controlled by the Ecuadorian Army, and the other one by a local NGO named Deja Tu Huella por Manabi. It was encouraging to see that all the refugee camps had special recreational, educational and sports facilities for the children. As part of the national Children’s Day, activities were arranged in the camps, including concerts, face painting, mural drawing and free-hand painting competition. Gifts were also distributed among the children. The camps also have ample space for playing games like football, basketball and handball etc.

dsc_0268The Army & Navy Officials arranged a concert and singing for the children in a refugee camp in Canoa, Ecuador.
dsc_0283dsc_0328Children taking part in a painting competition and drawing murals in a refugee camp run by the local NGO- Deja Tu Huella por Manabi.
dsc_0369dsc_0358Parents and children are waiting in queue, and a child with her gift provided by the Deja Tu Huella por Manabi.
dsc_0486The children’s recreation centre in a refugee camp in Jama, Ecuador.
dsc_0031dsc_0067Sports facilities (i.e. basketball & handball) are provided in the temporary earthquake refugee shelters in Manta, Ecuador.

Many schools are now closed and children are expected going back to school soon. The shelters are providing education and arranging other activities for the children. It is important for the children to overcome the mental trauma from the earthquake and the activities as organised by the agencies are unique and highly appreciated. The mental shock from any disaster can put long-term negative impact on children, therefore they should be taken care of properly. I hope the government will keep supporting the shelters and the international donors will continue humanitarian aid. I hope for a rapid recovery for the affected people so that they can go back to their normal life and livelihoods. Let the fearless joy of the innocence overcome all the difficulties, happy Children’s Day (Día del Niño) from Ecuador!

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