A Bag Full of Hope for Children Recovering from Trauma

In this story from Unicef, Aadarsh Laghari describes children traumatized by disasters and a program that brings psychosocial tool kits full of literal toys and other objects—coloring books, jump ropes, and the like—designed to aid them: 

“Sometimes, 7-year-old Muhammad Ehsan seems to silently stare at a nothingness only he can explain. If only he could. ‘No one should see what my innocent boy had to witness,’ Ehsan’s mother, 32-year-old Rehana, says in a broken voice as tears roll down her cheeks. . . . 

In July 2022, Ehsan’s home in Syed Ibrahim Shah village was hit by the massive floods that covered one-third of Pakistan, affecting more than 30 million people – over half of them women and children. Ehsan’s family had to seek shelter on the nearest higher ground to escape the deadly floodwaters. They were surrounded by villagers running from the flood. Ehsan’s younger siblings stayed close to their mother as he and his brother Farhan, a year older than Ehsan, rushed to follow their father to safety across some railroad tracks.

Amid the chaos, the two young boys became separated from the rest of the family and had to make it over the tracks all by themselves. Suddenly, a train sped through. All Rehana and her husband, Muhammad Mithal, could see in the aftermath of the roaring engine and train cars passing by was a shaken Ehsan standing alone beside the track.

‘No yelling could bring Farhan back,’ says Rehana. He was no more. Within weeks, 7-year-old Ehsan lost the ability to speak and hear. . . . One day, the community was gathered by a few visitors. “They said they were from UNICEF” . . . . 

With psychologists on board, the teams were equipped with subject knowledge and UNICEF-provided psychosocial support (PSS) kits – bags procured with generous funding from DP World, a leader in global end-to-end supply chain logistics headquartered in the United Arab Emirates. Also known as Happy Family Kits, the bags are packed with tools to give children ages 3 to 17 some joy and a way back from the anguish they’ve experienced.

Designed to help children cope with the impact of the floods and to assist parents and caregivers in engaging with children through play and fun, the kits contain guidance books, board games, toys, and playdough, along with items to encourage children’s interest in physical activities: a skipping rope, tennis balls, etc. The materials in the kits target different elements of children’s well-being and development: family connection, stress management, creativity and focus, and physical exercise.”

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