By Dorjpalam Togtokhbayar; Edited by Leanna Cappiello
The sound of children singing and clapping their hands echoes in the hallways. Two volunteers are leading activities and playing with a group of children. Elders sit on the tables outside in the shade, wiping their brows under the hot Ecuadorian sun.
This is what a child-friendly space looks like. Many survivors come here to recover from the shocking earthquake that devastated their community.
Anna Maria, a survivor and mother of three, recounts the horrific story. “My husband was away when the earthquake happened. We were in bed watching cartoons. I was holding my youngest on my lap and my daughter was there. My older son was not at home.” She recounts her children’s frightened voices, “’Mom, what shall we do?’”
Fearing for their lives, Anna Maria and her children ran out of the house and managed to find safe ground. “I was so afraid. I didn’t know what to do.” Luckily, there was help nearby, and her family was cared for. “Everyone was safe," she says.
Anna Maria was incredibly thankful to the World Vision volunteers that helped her, “I will not forget this moment of people helping me,” she says with relief and gratitude.
Even though Anna Maria’s home had completely collapsed, she is ever-grateful that her family is safe, “I am little bit sad about what happened, but… Now I can work and do other things. I am good. My children are well.”
Trained volunteers are attentive to the little ones. “My children get distracted in the activities,” says Anna Maria, “They enjoy playing games and painting in coloring books.”
Even community elders are involved in the cultivation of the safe space. Miralla, a grandmother and volunteer says, “We play and sing songs together. Now children can talk more with their families. We are provided with lots of materials such as floor coverings, stationery and toys. I just want to do everything what I can do to help children,” she says.
Many families seeking safety in the child-friendly space continue to recover, thanks to community efforts and child-friendly spaces.
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