It seems that almost weekly we’re hearing of another natural disaster. As aid groups rush to make sure the basic needs of food, water, and medications are met, many of the rest of us are left wondering what we can do to help the hardest hit areas recover.
As an area recovers from a natural disaster, it seems much of the aid dries up as soon as the most basic needs are met and news coverage stops. If people don’t hear about recovery on a regular basis, they may not realize that needs are still not being met. However, the recovery process in Haiti and other countries has shown us that sometimes, regions need months or even years to recover when they suffer intense damage from natural disasters like hurricanes or earthquakes. Children in some parts of Japan were still going to school in temporary buildings, or classrooms temporarily built out of cardboard in larger rooms like gymnasiums, two years after the earthquake that devastated the area. Rebuilding takes time, and often the focus has to be on shelter and services like water and power. Out of necessity, schools take a backseat during the recovery process.
However, for children, going back to school is a necessity. As the recovery process moves forward, establishing some sense of normalcy, even if it’s a “new normal,” becomes really important for these children. Having the daily routine of school, even if it’s in a different building or held in a sheltered outdoor area, can be immensely healing for these children, who may have been traumatized not just by the event itself, but by the loss of family members.
It’s critical that we find ways to help these children take forward steps in their own individual recovery, and sending school supplies to these troubled areas may be one of the best things we can do, especially if we want to help, but find that a lack of funding prohibits us from doing so in the early days after such a disaster. Tangible items like school supplies can be used weeks or months after the initial disaster, giving us time to raise money to cover the expense.
Buying bulk school supplies and either shipping them directly to the area, or finding an aid group to donate them to, is a great way to help these areas rebuild. As most groups will have focused on meeting those basic needs, or other more prominent needs such as food and clothing, items like school supplies often get forgotten or overlooked in the shuffle.
Having a school supply drive is a great way to build community involvement, or to teach students or youth group members about the power of helping. Putting together fund raising activities can be an important learning experience, and coordinating such an event would really bolster a college or scholarship application, as well. Raising money and then using it to buy bulk school supplies can create a life changing event for not only the children who are being helped, but for those doing the helping, too!