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Caritas aids education for flood-affected children in Assam

Disaster management authorities estimate some 500,000 people were affected and 84 died in this year's floods

Caritas aids education for flood-affected children in Assam

Children of families displaced by flood eat their meal at a temporary relief camp in Lakhimpur district of Assam. Caritas India has started evening classes for such children to help them continue their education. (Photo courtesy of Caritas India)

Ritu Sharma, New Delhi
India

August 9, 2017

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When the annual monsoon rains come, 11-year-old Jhunmuni Barua is a worried soul in India's northeastern state of Assam.

Every year her family, along with others in their Gosanibari village, move to higher ground in the face of furious flooding along the Brahmaputra, the wild river which also runs through China and Bangladesh.

So it was that Jhunmuni's family moved to a relief camp in the first week of July. "There was water inside the house," the sixth grader, whose school closed because of the inundation, told ucanews.com.  

Jhunmuni is among thousands of children who don't get to go to classes amid the annual deluge. Repairing damage can take months. Even when schools are not directly hit, in the flood season attendance falls as families are displaced.

"At the onset of any flood, the primary focus of families is to save food and valuables," states a study conducted by the Caritas India.

Children's books and other school supplies can be lost in the mayhem. Children are also left with little space for recreation. The study suggested there tended to be a lack of preparedness despite floods occurring year after year.

The Assam State Disaster Management Authority estimates some 500,000 people were affected, and 84 died, in this year's floods.

As well as offering immediate relief and rehabilitation, Caritas India has joined with private company Hindustan Computers Limited to aid children's education by providing evening classes.

"It is a stop gap arrangement for six months till the time the situation normalizes and the children start going back to school," said Father Frederick D'Souza, Director of Caritas India. "It helps keep the children engaged."  

The priest told ucanews.com that counseling is also provided in these classes, through game-playing, as a lot of children go through trauma during disasters. Father D'Souza said that it is a time when children, especially girls, become victims of human trafficking.

"The classes help in keeping them engaged in their neighborhood and they remain under the watchful eyes of elders," he said. A total of 1,000 school children will benefit from this innovative project.  Jhunmuni's mother put her into the evening classes. "I like coming to this school and will not miss any of the lessons as I am not sure when my school with reopen," she said.

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