What about our children?
I have witnessed many traumatic images in my few years as a media professional. However, the image of children watching their parents run after helicopters as they drop sacks of food, fighting and injuring each other in the process, is disturbing to say the least.
Even writing about it pains me deeply. Penning my thoughts brings back images of some of the most inhumane images I have seen; especially, during the recent coverage of the devastating floods.
I wonder what children go through when they witness their parents scuffling for food. Even as an adult I have trouble coming to terms with what I see, that too only on television. Bad things happen, but when they happen to children or in front of them, it can take them years to get over the pain. Emotional and psychological trauma can be caused by a one time blow, such as a horrible accident or a natural disaster like the floods in Pakistan. Professional help won’t blur bad memories but it might speed up recovery from psychological trauma.
We talk about rescue, relief and rehabilitation. How about emotional and psychological recovery? The distressing experience that children affected by floods are going through will have a severe effect on them that could last a lifetime. Will these children always see the world as a frightening and dangerous place? Will they grow up with a sense of fear and helplessness? If so, who will aid them in recovering from it? Is this also the government’s job? A government that has already declared dealing with the catastrophe is out of its control. If we don’t deal with these children now, will we be witnessing an estranged generation a decade later? Will we blame ourselves then, the government or destiny?
These children may always see the world as a terrifying place, struggling with upsetting emotions. Having lost their homes and having to live on the roads is enough to shatter their sense of security forever. They will be flooded their entire lives, with despair and hopelessness.
Unfortunately, the emotional impact of trauma on children is often untreated as it is often unacknowledged. This should not be the case as exposure to disaster such as this one can be profound and long-lasting. It could adversely affect children’s ability to identify with or express emotions. It could negatively impact their basic identity. It could destroy their ability to relate to others. We talk about rehabilitation and rebuilding broken homes. What about broken hopes? Shattered egos? Emotionally distraught eight year old minds? Why not counsel these children and give them some hope. Not right away, but perhaps in the near future.
I realize that right now we are at a stage where we should be grateful if people even have tents for shelter, however, where the army and government have set up relief and medical camps, I wish at a later stage they or someone would set up camps meant for the benefit of children only. Camps where they could be taught games, educated, hear a few words of comfort, be given some degree of hope and perhaps be counseled to help recover from the tremendous devastation they have already suffered.
I wish schools and colleges would send students who would set up these camps for little children so that these children could spend some time away from the misery they suffer and engage in pleasant recreational or educational activities. This is a child’s basic right. Not a privilege.
Maybe I am too idealistic. However, what I am proposing is definitely worth a try.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.