Flood Response - Safe Play Areas

Tuesday 11 March 2014

Khartoum, Sudan

With beautiful wide opened eyes, Waad, 9 years old, started to tell me how the water flooded into their home and washed out most of the surrounding houses.

Waad’s story in her own words:

“I was sleeping when water came in and my mom woke me up. The water was all over the place and it reached to the level of our beds and the front wall of our house has fallen down. My mom took us, myself and my three elder sibling, to the neighbor’s house for which they have a roof top. We stayed up there and other tow families joined us and we spent the night over there.”

“As the morning came I was watching from the rooftop the boats were coming in to take people from the collapsed houses to the main road. Because of the floods my dad couldn’t came to us at the night as he was visiting some relatives. At the early morning he came to us and he was like diving to reach us and the youth of the neighborhood have helped him, and he brought us food. 

The neighbors started fleeing the area and as many houses have collapsed and yet more are expected to fall down.  “After a while we went back to check on our house. It was full of water and mud and the fences were collapsed. My parents decided to rent an apartment till they fix the house.” “We joined our auntie to the apartment they rent till we find one for us, but all the apartments we found were not in a good shape. So we stayed over with my auntie and we want all to the market to get new clothes for Eid al –Fitr[1], as it was only few days left for it.”

“Finally, we went back to our home as my dad was staying there to guard it. I found all my clothes were totally damaged by the water as they were placed in the bottom drawer of the closed. My dad brought laborers to rehabilitate the house.”

“I didn’t feel sad after the floods and when my house was partially damaged. I don’t like being sad and getting angry. The water was reaching up to my thighs and was folding my pants so it won’t get wet, but eventually I gave up and stopped folding it.

“After three weeks break, I went back to my school and there was a new building under construction and everyone was curious to know about it. The secret revealed by class 8 students who told us that this place is set up for after school entertaining activities.”

Waad now has a safe space to play and learn again. She and her class fellows are receiving a child – friendly space set up by Save the Children in partnership with AL Salaam Organization for Rehabilitation and Development.  The CFSs operate six days a week to provide recreational activities to children in class one up to six where one day is dedicated to one class for two and half hours.

“My class turn is on Tuesday and I can’t wait for it to come. I like it because I can come and have fun. I find it very nice place, and we are grouped into two teams, flowers and stars, but last time the other team won over us.”

“We play, participate and we engage ourselves in activities. My favorite activities are the Q & A, and competitions.”

“My sister is a nurse and I want to be a doctor so I can help as many people in need.”

Waad Elsayed, 9 years, Marrabie El Sahrief area, Sharg El Nil Locality, Khartoum State, Sudan

Ms. Alawia, the psychological support staff:

“When the CFS was set up, people – parents, were scared to send their children since it was something new to them, but after a while they all got encouraged and send their children over. Now there are so many children want to come and the CFS can’t equip them. Also we didn’t limit it to school children, but moreover to the children in the areas and around the CFS.”

“I have noticed that hygiene practices have changed, more discipline and they started learning what does the word “share” means.”

“In very few cases, we faced much traumatized children who don’t want to engage themselves with other children or into the activities. We visit their families and we continue follow up on them and we engage the families to help us and their children. Some of them are feeling sad because their houses have fallen down and most of the families are from the poor, hence they couldn’t rehabilitate their houses.”

“Now the families are worried what will happen to their children when the project ends. We have explained to them that the community can keep the CFSs running.”

Background information on the project

The heavy rainfall in early August caused flooding across the country, including in Khartoum State which is considered the worst-hit by the floods with 128,380 people estimated to be affected. The total number of affected children is likely to be around 40% of the total.

Save the Children and their local organization partner Alsalam Organization for Rehabilitation and Development are running four Child Friendly Spaces in Sharg El Nil locality in Khartoum State.

The CFSs give children a safe place to play, learn, interact with other children, talk through their experiences and get back to some sense of normality. Through these spaces, we can also identify vulnerable children who need immediate help to cope with what they have witnessed or experienced during and after floods time and to ensure they get the support they need.   


Interviewed by Dina Taha, Sudan Country Office- November 28, 2013

[1] Muslim’s Religious Holiday