World Vision delivers aid to families hit by Mexican earthquake
World Vision ambassador Jerome Flynn says he is ‘changed forever’ after hearing heart-rending stories from war-scarred children in South Sudan.
Jerome met traumatised children last month on a fact-finding trip organised by international charity World Vision. South Sudan is the world’s youngest country, gaining independence in 2011. The East African country has been convulsed by a five-year long civil war which has killed at least 400,000 people. Over 19,000 children have been conscripted into various armed groups.
“Children told me about unimaginable horrors they had seen and experienced,” Jerome says. “Some children were kidnapped by armed groups and forced to fight and kill and watch other children get killed for not keeping up. Others fled torched homes and villages and sought refuge in camps for displaced people, with little food and no education. Many lost mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters and were forced to make choices no child should have to make, just to survive.
"I met families torn apart because of the conflict and talked to parents who had sons and daughters snatched from them,” he continued. At times I found their stories of what they had to endure almost too painful to bear.
“Yet I also saw hope in a country ripped apart by war. Dedicated World Vision aid workers are helping desperate families stitch their lives together amid the chaos. I was blown away by the resilience of the children, humbled by their spirit, and inspired by their determination to find happiness.
“I saw how war costs children their innocence but does not always destroy their childhoods. The bravery of the children I met will stay with me forever.”
Full-blown conflict is likely to flare up again in South Sudan unless a national army of government and rebel forces is formed by May 12. More children and young people could then be forced into the bush to take up arms or flee the fighting.
Jerome says: “South Sudan’s latest peace deal is on a short fuse and the situation is desperate. Help is needed urgently to protect children from further violence. Sadly, there are thousands of children across the world who need support right now. Please give generously to help them.”
Jerome’s trip forms part of World Vision’s Made for More appeal for funds to protect the world’s most vulnerable children.
World Vision teams begin distributing food, hygiene kits and water filters in the hardest hit areas.
Following last week’s powerful 8.2 magnitude earthquake in Mexico, World Vision response teams have been deployed to the worst affected areas of Chiapas and Oaxaca. Emergency responders plan to support 1500 families in Juchitan and San Mateo del Mar.
Children and their families have been badly affected. There have been over 1000 tremors since last week and people are noticeably traumatised.
Thousands of homes have been damaged. Many people are sleeping outside because they fear their damaged homes will collapse on top of them.
- Guillermo Lozano Leo, World Vision Mexico Strategy Manager
Luis Lara who survived the quake said “We had a terrible experience. My parents were trapped in their room terrified. They couldn’t get out of their room. The force of the earthquake had buckled the doorframe. I kicked and pushed at the door, finally managing to get them out.
World Vision assessment staff spoke to Mr Jose, his wife and 3 children. Jose said, “We were asleep in our beds when it hit. As soon as I felt the bed shaking I knew it was an earthquake. I shouted ‘we need get out of the house now’, but the tremors were so strong we couldn’t even stand on our feet.
“Now we are sleeping in the yard, but we are lucky to be alive.”
World Vision manager, Lozano Leo, said, “This earthquake has hit extremely poor coastal communities. Our response is focused on helping children and their families recover from this disaster. The food relief and hygiene kits will help people cope with in the immediate aftermath of this disaster.
World Vision also plans to build a child friendly space in Tonalà.