The Community Service Provider
Yushu Earthquake One Year Special
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In November 2010, a UNICEF Child Friendly Space was set up in Ganda Village, on the outskirts of Jiegu Town, the Yushu county seat.
Under the direction of Director Zhou Xuemei, the Child Friendly Space has grown remarkably over the last few months and along with it, the children of Ganda Village. "When we first opened the Child Friendly Space, we noticed that a lot of the children seemed uncomfortable around one another. Since then, however, we've seen them really warm up to one another. They no longer get anxious when they see new faces," said Director Zhou.
One little girl who comes regularly to the Ganda Village Child Friendly Space is 5-year-old Suonandaiji, who likes to sing and dance. Suonandaiji has a 4-year-old brother who also comes nearly every day. “Before, whenever I wanted to take the children out, they would get anxious. They just wanted to stay at home. Now, they seem braver and more outgoing. They ask me to bring them here every morning!” said the children's mother.
Little Suonandaiji is not the only one who keeps track of her visits to the Child Friendly Space. According to Director Zhou, "We've created a file for each child who has come here more than once. In the file, we include the child's photo, her biographical information, her likes and dislikes, and her parents' contact information. If a child who has been coming regularly does not show up for several days, we call the parents to make sure that everything is okay. We also follow up with the parents if the child shows up at the Child Friendly Space, and we notice that she seems unhappy or behaves differently."
In addition to keeping young children in the village safe and providing them with a place in which they can socialize and play with their friends, the Ganda Village Child Friendly Space has also become an important resource for community education. Recent communication activities have covered health, hygiene, safety and child rearing.
Ganda Village, which was severely affected by the earthquake, was one of the first villages in Yushu targeted for reconstruction. The introduction of the Child Friendly Space in this village therefore serves as a model of community-based child protection services that may be adopted by other villages in the unfolding reconstruction process.