Three Months After Devastating Earthquakes and Floods in Indonesia, Save the Children Helps More Than 67,000 Children

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In the village of Mangur, Indonesia, Aldo, age 10, recalls the day he lost his old school.

"My friends and I were playing football in the field," he says. "When my friend tried to score a goal, he kicked the ball and it didn't go straight; it went somewhere to the right. That's when we realized an earthquake was happening."

In the three months since the earthquake struck, Save the Children's humanitarian response has reached more than 30,000 families, including more than 67,000 children. In just two of the most severely affected districts of West Sumatra, Agam and Lubuk Basung, Save the Children has served a total of 143,777 people, including 64,942 children.

In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, Save the Children distributed relief items, such as cooking utensils, soap, and tools and materials to build basic shelters. Now Save the Children is shifting its focus to ensure children and their families recover as quickly as possible. The agency is helping some of the most vulnerable families to buy building materials, promoting maternal health and offering children safe spaces where they can express themselves and overcome the stress of the earthquake and its aftermath.

Major Focus on Safe, Temporary Classrooms

Save the Children is also ensuring that children can quickly return to safe, temporary classrooms, so they can continue their education. Across West Sumatra 1,000 schools were affected by the earthquake, with 5,117 classrooms severely damaged, 2,479 moderately damaged and 1,986 slightly damaged.

Aldo's school, SDN 02 Padang Sago (pictured here), was one of the many left unsafe for use.

"There are cracks in many places," points out Aldo's friend Ricki. "Some classrooms are even sliced in two."

For two weeks after the earthquake, teachers from the Padang Sago school held classes in the limited space of the local mosque.

"You can imagine before we could not study well," says the school principal, Hafifah Alif.

Then Save the Children installed two large tents to house four classrooms on the same field where Aldo and Ricky used to play football. Now the two boys are among 104 students enjoying their studies in the temporary structures. Morning and afternoon rotations and training from Save the Children make it possible for teachers to comfortably hold classes for all six grades.

"With help like this, our students can all study again," says Alif.

In communities where up to 95 percent of the homes and buildings were destroyed by the earthquake, the large tents are ensuring that children can continue their education and play and interact with each other in a safe environment. Throughout the earthquake-stricken region, Save the Children has set up 84 tents that serve as temporary classrooms for more than 7,500 children. The agency has also supplied teaching and learning materials to the schools.

Once the tents have served their early response purpose, schools will use transitional classrooms built by the Indonesian government. These structures, made with wood and zinc, will house students until permanent buildings are finished. Save the Children is also supporting 120 of these transitional classrooms in 60 schools with educational supplies and teacher training.

At the Padang Sago School, sixth-grader Suci says she likes the temporary set-up because it's spacious and she doesn't have to worry about anything falling on her as she prepares for her year-end exams.

"I feel better now," she says with a smile.

The children of the region have shown remarkable resilience and a reinvigorated will to learn, often inspired by their teachers. When Suci grows up, she'd like to do the same for others.

"I want to teach children because I like kids, and I never had younger siblings," she says.