- 03 February 2010 | Environment
Australian students have raised $70,000 through SchoolAid which is being distributed by SurfAid International to children in West Sumatra who were badly affected by two major earthquakes in Padang late last year.
Earthquakes of 7.9 and 6.3 magnitude struck Padang on 30 September and 1 October, killing more than 1,100 people, injuring thousands more and leaving hundreds of thousands of families homeless and traumatised. More than 200,000 houses and 1,078 schools were severely or moderately damaged, and 50 per cent of health facilities were rendered non-functional.
SchoolAid, a student-led philanthropy program that empowers kids to help other kids in need, launched the Asia Pacific Emergency Appeal immediately after the disaster. One hundred and eighty three Australian schools took action in the appeal.
“SchoolAid supports and encourages Australian children to develop their innate sense of empathy for other children around the world and helps them to turn their compassion into action,” SchoolAid Founder, Sean Gordon, said.
“SchoolAid’s strong partnership with SurfAid International provides our community of schools with an opportunity to take real action in Padang and develop students’ sense of empowerment in making a difference to the lives of children around the world.”
“A Shoulder to Lean On”
Schoolchildren in Padang acknowledge the support of SchoolAid. Photo: SurfAid
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SurfAid is directing the funds towards its psychosocial program, Tampek Mangadu, which translates in the local Minang language as “a shoulder to lean on”.
“We are concentrating on getting the children’s lives back to a sense of normality by engaging them in educational and fun activities to decrease tension and stress, as well as to promote community participation and cohesiveness,” SurfAid Schools Program Education Director, Milton Brown, said.
“The psychological effects derived from a natural disaster of this scale are harder to see than the physical devastation, but are equally as important in the recovery period.”
Shindy, a 12-year-old Padang girl, was caught under the brick rubble of her house as she tried to escape. It took 10 minutes for her family to dig her out and they were incredulous that she had survived. Relatives took them in but Shindy was too scared to sleep in their house so she slept outside. After participating in SurfAid’s program, she is now able to sleep inside, however she still leaves the door open. “The program makes me happy to be able to go somewhere safe to play with my friends,” Shindy says.
SurfAid also provides end-of-month activities to give the children something to look forward to. Fretlin Zandra, who won a drawing competition in the 5-12 age division, said: “I’ve never won anything before, I’m so happy – I can’t wait to show my dad.”
SurfAid’s Milton Brown says: “The partnership between SchoolAid and the SurfAid Schools Program is a real example of Australian children providing support for their fellow global citizens in a time of great need, and we thank all the students who have contributed to this fundraising effort.”