Linda Steinbock gives us first-hand information about the situation in Nepal after the second earthquake and how the international community and media can help. Today, three days after a second earthquake struck Nepal and less than three weeks after more than 8 thousand people lost their lives in a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, ongimedia NGO´s communication agency spoke with Linda Steinbock, a member of Save the Children’s Emergency Response Team. Save the Children has been working in Nepal since 1976, their work focuses on education, especially early childhood development and primary education, as well as basic health, including maternal child health and HIV and AIDS prevention and care. They work in 63 districts of Nepal and more than 400 people are working with them.
So, at 12 o’clock in Spain and at around 15.30 in Nepal, Linda Steinbock, to whom we are very grateful, not just for her time but also for her work, has given us first-hand information about the situation in Nepal after the second earthquake and how international community and media can help them.
Which is the current situation after the second earthquake?
Linda Steinbock: We are currently responding to this earthquake in 14 districts across Nepal, with many of these communities extremely remote and difficult to reach. Following the earthquake on Tuesday, there have been a number of landslides reported which will make some of these places even harder to get to – though we will continue to do what it takes to reach those most affected by these earthquakes.
Could you please tell us your experience when the earthquake occurred?
L.S.: I was waiting for my lunch and the building started to shake – everybody was yelling and saying: “get out of the building”. The ground was moving for what felt like a very, very long time, it felt like minutes but in fact it was around 45 seconds, I think. I ran out onto the street with some of my colleagues and there was a little boy who was frightened, running around and looking for his mother. One of the key things we are told to do is to stay still, so I crouched down to his level and held him. We were there for a minute or so and in that time I just kept reassuring him “we will look for your mother when it stops”. I don’t really think he understood what I saying but I think just holding on to someone made him feel better, I have never felt anyone shake with fear like that before.
In which areas is Save the Children is giving support to the children?
L.S.: Save the Children is responding to this earthquake in 14 districts throughout Nepal. We are responding to the immediate needs of children and families by providing healthcare, shelter materials, water and sanitation facilities and food. We are also setting up Child Friendly Spaces to ensure children have a safe space to play as well as receive psychosocial support to deal with their experiences, there is a very clear psychosocial need after these two earthquakes. In addition, many schools have been damaged or destroyed by the earthquakes and many more are being used as shelter for families who have lost their homes and so Save the Children are setting up Temporary Learning Centres to ensure children don’t miss out on vital education.
And among of all these mentioned, which is the priority?
L.S.: The main priorities for children would be shelter, food, clean water, and health care. These are absolutely essential needs for children and their families.
And about the psychosocial support, what does it consist of?
L.S.: In an emergency, when things like this happen, children’s normal routine is disrupted. So one of the key things that Save the Children does is encourage children to play, to get back to their normal routine, to be around other children, to draw, to learn and just be children. We have specially trained facilitators who are able to provide children with the support they need during times of crisis.
Which kind of support are you receiving from the international community and what is your priority for using these funds?
L.S.: Overall, we are receiving support from the international community such as non-food items which include shelter kits, household kits, kitchen utensils, blankets, baby kits and hygiene kits. We have also received incredible support from the general public around the world which has allowed us to respond in some of the hardest to reach areas, I can’t thank people who have supported this response enough – thank you! Save The Children has been receiving donations from all around the world. All our areas of work are a priority. From shelter, food, health, education and child protection to clean water and sanitation and hygiene.
The last one, what can we do from here in order to help Nepal? I mean like supplying or giving donations? And, furthermore, we as media, which is the role for the media in order to not led Nepal get forgotten?
L.S.: Yeah, I think that is exactly the point. There are so many crises in the world so the focus can shift very quickly. It´s important to keep an eye on Nepal and making sure that people don´t forget it. It’s the time for the greatest need.
Text: Virginia Meza
Photo: Rajan Zaveri/Save the Children