"My son is very intelligent. That I know. But since the earthquake, he cannot concentrate and is in pain. He is actually already in the 5th grade, but he can't even understand the simple exercises of the 3rd grade anymore. All he cares about is whether his friends are okay."
The earthquakes of magnitude 7,1 and 8,2 as well as the many strong aftershocks have hit numerous people in Mexico. Exactly 32 years after the severe earthquake of 1985, they almost completely destroyed cities such as Juchitán, Jujutla, Comitancillo and Unión Hildago. Not only the residential buildings, but also many schools and hospitals have become unusable. A large number of children have been sent to other cities so that they don't have to watch what is left of their homes being torn down completely.
From 08-21 October, a twelve-person emergency education team was on hand to support people after the earthquakes. Head of operations Reinaldo Nascimento reports on the encounters and work on site.
Our international emergency education team conducted seminars at the University of Ibero Americano (supported by the Department of Education in Mexico City), at the State School in San Andres de la Cal and in many small towns such as Juchitán and Unión Heraldo. We were able to reach 750 teachers and educators as well as over 200 parents through discussion groups and workshops. With numerous activities and games on the streets, we were able to share our offer with 500 children.
Many families currently live in temporary camps. The schools are not able to take in the children and many children don't want to go there anyway. Parents are often overwhelmed by the changes in their children's behaviour:"They are different than usual. I don't recognize them sometimes,"says a mother of three children. "Through your work, my children have found their laughter again - today, after four weeks, I finally see their eyes shine again. I had missed it so much."
I am delighted and very impressed by the many committed people we met on our way. People who have made our work possible and who have thought about our well-being, even though they have lost almost everything themselves.
There's still a lot to do here in Mexico. At the moment there is despair on the streets and yet everyone knows that they must work together, despite all the social tensions and problems. "Many Mexicans say there's a chance now to talk about everything and shape their country together."
Emergency pedagogical intervention in the earthquake zone
Emergency in Mexico: 20 days ago, the country was shaken by an earthquake of magnitude 8.1. The epicentre was located about 700 km from Mexico City. While people were still trying to recover from the shock, the second major earthquake hit them just two weeks later. Several aftershocks follow and leave the affected people little time to breathe. In addition, the rescue work must be interrupted again and again. Although building regulations and disaster plans have been continuously improved in the past, dozens of buildings in the South American city have collapsed. At first nobody knows how many people are buried in the rubble.
In the meantime, 320 people are thought to have died, and the window of time in which buried victims can survive has long since expired. Nevertheless, rescue teams continued their search for miracles while the first funeral ceremonies for the victims were held.
Among the damaged buildings there are also many schools, and 32 pupils and teachers died in the collapse of a school. Many children are traumatized, they have experienced the loss of relatives, the collapse of their homes and schools. Their world collapsed literally, the ground staggered and offered them no stability. They need urgent psychosocial support.
Since all schools are closed at the moment, not only the damaged ones, the children lack a piece of everyday life that gives their days a rhythm. At the moment they are being supervised by volunteer pedagogues in emergency education, but they also need help. Many of them have experienced bad things themselves and lost people close to them.
In order to help those affected, an international emergency education team will travel to Mexico on 8 October for a two-week trip. The experienced specialists introduce a rhythmic daily routine and arrange play phases with offers from art, experience and Waldorf education and related forms of therapy. In this way, the self-healing powers are released and activated again. For teachers and parents, seminars are also offered to help them deal with the children's traumatic behavioural changes. On the other hand, the knowledge about trauma and methods of emergency education also supports them in their own trauma management and self-care.