On April 8th and 9th, around 30 young adolescents and children from certain municipalities in the department of Grand’Anse, affected by cyclone Matthew – Jérémie, Roseau, Bonbon, Chambellan and Marfranc – participated in a consultation session on risk and disaster management. The seminar was organized at the initiative of UNICEF with IDETTE and Methods without Borders as implementing partners.
The main objective of this consultation was to enable adolescents to express their views on how humanitarian and public actors managed disaster responses; and to talk about their willingness to become involved in disaster preparedness and response in their community.
From the first day, the young people showed their interest in participating in this activity of great importance for the future of their community. The trainers began by raising awareness about children’s rights, which enabled them to get an idea of the state of their knowledge in this area. The vast majority of children were unaware of the existence of the Convention of Children Rights. “We are pleased to know that there is such a text to protect the rights of children,” one of them said.
As with any group, there are some who are more active and more interested than others. Like 12-year-old Rodley Beauchamp in Grade 7, “If all adults respected children’s rights, the country would be much more developed,” he said, his voice full of innocence, applauded by other young participants.
The different interventions of the children made it possible to measure their level of knowledge on the question of risks and disasters management. “Before Matthew arrived, I asked my parents to evacuate the house because I had heard the radio alert, but they did not want to listen to me. I went alone to the temporary shelter, “says one of them.
Topics related to risk management and adapted to their level were addressed as: threat, response, preparedness, risk. They have also been sensitized on the preservation of the environment.
A method for youth participation
The whole consultation took place with the effective participation of adolescents and children. They received the information and shared how they understood the issue of risk and disaster management. They have consulted with each other to see how they can participate in managing the risks and disasters of their respective communities. They’ve been able to play with interactive and informative games based on their ability to understand these themes. Because they might seem complex at first for those young people but are crucial to saving their lives.
The young people were able to express their opinions and fears about their future, and they shared their experience immediately after Hurricane Matthew, how they view themselves after this disaster and the role they will have to play in their respective communities.
A willingness to share knowledge
“I welcome this training with great pleasure because the subject is really important to me. I have learned two important things about how children are supposed to live and how to behave when approaching a disaster to avoid being a victim. I will share what I have learned with my community and other youth, “says Rosemène François, 17, one of the participants.
Rodley Beauchamps, another participant, does not hide his intention to sensitize everyone, especially young people and children. “I am going to share knowledge with people who come to visit and explain to their children what their rights are,” he says.
The most important is the resilience of their community and how through them they can be actors of change. Other formations of this type are planned in the areas affected by Matthew, especially in the South.
This post is also available in: French