Although we have a field office in the area, it took us nearly 24 hours to get to the worst hit areas of Bener Meriah after the 6.2 magnitude earthquake rocked the island of Sumatra on Saturday 6 July.
Landslides, damaged roads and debris-laden streets meant a one-hour drive took at least 10 hours. When we finally arrived, telecommunications were down and there was no electricity or running water. At least 40 people have been killed and over 140 injured.
People are living in tents in front of their damaged houses. Many are in distress from the disaster and are afraid to re-enter their homes.
No time to be home alone
For the children who were at home alone the afternoon the earthquake struck, I can barely imagine how frightening it must have been. They would not have known where to go or what to do. They will certainly need a safe space to play with their peers and talk through their experiences with a trained adult, if they are to to recover fully.
Of more than 16,600 buildings that crumbling in the affected area, 17 were schools. Water supplies have been severely affected, particularly in the hilly areas of Bener Meriah. Families also have no jerrycans to store any fresh water delivered to the area by the public works.
No time to be out of school, either
The schools that are still standing are being used as evacuation camps, which means they may not open in time for the new school year on 15 July. Families need a roof over their heads, of course, but the longer children stay out of school, the more likely it is that they will drop out entirely. All children deserve the right to basic education, regardless of their situation.
As well as supplying families with temporary shelter materials, water storage containers and safe playing areas, Save the Children plans to set up temporary school tents and distribute school materials to children in the worst-affected areas. Life is difficult enough in the midst of a disaster like this, without children losing out on their education as well. We intend to help them return to school as soon as possible.
By Manmagilan, Aceh Program manager, Indonesia