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Nepal 2015

The severe earthquake that struck on April 25th brought death and destruction to Nepal. An experience, that leaves above all children with deep psychological wounds. In order to support children in processing their experiences, an emergency pedagogical team from the Friends of Waldorf Education is travelling to Nepal from the 9th to the 23rd of May.

“Such a catastrophe shakes a child’s world view and can lead to post traumatic stress disorder” explains Bernd Ruf, mission leader and acting director of the Friends of Waldorf Education. “The child essentially loses the floor beneath his feet and his trust in stability. The child must immediately process fear, injury, death, and the destruction of his environment. With emergency pedagogical methods we can stabilize the children and prevent post traumatic disorders.”

The emergency pedagogical crisis intervention is taking place in cooperation with “Aktion Deutschland Hilft” and long term regional partner “Shanti.” The “Shanti” Leper relief organisation helps run not only a clinic in Kathmandu but also an inclusion Waldorf school with preschool in Budhanikhanta. A place where children with and without disabilities can learn and play together. The earthquake also affected “Shanti”: The school was completely destroyed and the clinic is primarily taking care of injured people who could not find a place in regular hospitals.

The emergency pedagogical team is building on these existing structures: on the premises of the school and in the already existing facilities of “Shanti” in Kathmandu children of all ages can receive emergency pedagogical help. The teachers and volunteers, who work in the institution, have also been affected by the catastrophe. They too have been traumatised and need support. In workshops and training seminars, they have the opportunity to learn the basics of psychotraumatology and emergency pedagogy, so that they can later independently use these methods.

Parents, who are often overwhelmed by the behavioural changes of their children in such an exceptional situation, are being offered advisement. A deep understanding of post traumatic reactions of children can help them gain new insights into the inner world of their children.

The volunteer emergency pedagogical team is made up of twelve experienced pedagogues and therapists. Many of them already have years of experience working with traumatised children after catastrophes or humanitarian crises. A doctor is accompanying the team.

You can read a full mission report here.

After an initial emergency pedagogy acute intervention following the devastating earthquake, the Friends of Waldorf Education carried out an aftercare mission from August 23rd to September 6th. The focus of this recent mission was the professional development of local employees of aid organisations and teachers in the concepts and methods of emergency pedagogy. The mission took place in cooperation with the German relief collation, Aktion Deutschland hilft.

Almost five months after the earthquake, Nepal is returning to normal everyday life, debris and ruins have been largely removed, the schools reopened. Almost no one is disturbed by minor aftershocks, but they do serve as a near daily reminder to the people here of the risk for major earthquakes in the future. In order to prepare teachers and aid workers for future earthquakes and to provide them with methods for stabilizing children in acute shock states, pedagogical-therapeutic experts from the Friends of Waldorf Education offered seminars in Kathmandu and Chitwan.

In Kathmandu, a week-long seminar took place on the grounds of local partner Shanti-Leprosy Aid.  In addition to a leper hospital, Shanti runs a local Waldorf school und kindergarten. Over 70 teachers and NGO-employees took part in seminars on the topics of psychotraumatology and emergency pedagogical methods, like art therapy or experiential pedagogy.
In the afternoons, emergency pedagogy workshops were offered for the centre’s children. Here the participants of the training courses had the opportunity to become familiar with the practical work with children. Many children had already taken part in emergency pedagogical offerings during the last mission and had in the mean time together with their teachers taken up the methods of emergency pedagogy and expanded on some elements like games and songs.

In the second week, a further professional development and training course was offered in Chitwan, located in the southern part of the country. In cooperation with the organisation Green Society Nepal, 20 teachers from public and private schools were trained in the foundations of psychotraumatology and emergency pedagogy and emergency pedagogy workshops were offered in multiple schools. In a vacant hospital, around 70 children gathered every afternoon to take part in emergency pedagogy offerings. Here too the professional development courses and emergency pedagogy workshops were met with great excitement. Local initiatives would like to create sustainable educational offerings for the children on site built on the foundations of pedagogical-therapeutic methods.

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