How nursery rhymes save lives

3 Aug 2012   |   Blog   |   Long-term Development   |   Solomon Islands

Tags:  natural disaster, flood, education, school, disaster risk reduction   |   1 comment

Kindergarten students with teacher from Bishop Epalle School

First published in Caritas News No 129, Winter 2012, pg 8

School age children are especially vulnerable in emergency situations. In 2010, a unique program was created for Indigenous communities. Caritas Australia’s Adam Elliott, Program Manager Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, tells us more.

After a string of natural disasters in the Pacific, including an earthquake and tsunami in the Solomon Islands and Samoa (2007 and 2009 respectively), we needed to devise a way to help children cope in a disaster situation.

As most disasters have occurred early in the morning when the children are at school (often a 1-2km walk) and away from their direct families, it was important to develop a child-friendly program so they knew what to do in an emergency.

So we thought, why not put instructions to music? This is how the idea of a nursery rhyme program came about.

Along with the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), we discussed the most prevalent risks that confront the Solomon Islands and identified four: cyclone, flood, earthquake and tsunami. However this program can accommodate a much broader range of emergency scenarios, such as civil unrest and fire.

We wanted children to be aware of what’s happening and look to their teacher for leadership. The Ministry of Education endorsed activities target early childhood educators, kindergarten and lower primary school; however older students enjoy them as well.

The activity works by firstly identifying simple and memorable tunes, and then changing the words and creating actions. For example:

(to the tune of This is the Day that the Lord has Made)
River hem flood. River hem flood.
Yumi run away – Up to higher ground
River hem flood. River hem flood.
Yu no stay en drown – Yumi run on top.
Olketa hurry – yumi run away.
Up to the hill and the mountain top.
River hem flood. River hem flood.
Yumi run away.

Playtime helps too - We printed cartoons of the emergency scenarios: cyclone, flood, earthquake and tsunami on the children’s soccer balls. As well as singing the songs and accompanying actions, kids are encouraged to play games using the balls. This helps to further familiarise them with the themes.

We have since made follow-up visits to the schools and what’s great is that all the target students have learnt the songs. They are singing them and doing the actions, and they are able to answer questions about what to do during an emergency scenario. We also heard that children outside the target areas are singing the songs too.

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1 comment:

  • Mr smile