International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean   

Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
Issue: 13/2006- 12/2006 - 11/2005 - 10/2005 - 9/2004 - 8/2003 - 7/2003 - 6/2002 - 5/2002 - 4/2001- 3/2001



School clubs and the work done with children and youth for disaster prevention

This story tells about the experience of Danais Millian Betancourt, an 11 years old girl, who participated in the Red Cross Interest Circles as part of the programmed activities for the World Campaign for Risk Reduction.

Joining this club called my attention to their actions and activities in which many people participate, and even more, to what they do and what we see on television in the event of a disaster or war. This is why I must say that, after all, my real inclination was that "little thing" we all have inside us and that encourages us to help others.

Since the beginning I discovered how interesting the classes were and I was learning not only through the explanations of our teacher, but also through audiovisuals, scale models, drawings, participatory games and practical exercises which we subsequently reviewed.

All this continuously motivated my classmates and me and I must say that we anxiously waited for the day of the week these classes were scheduled. When we got back home and to our respective schools we shared what we had learned in the classroom with the rest of our classmates, our families and neighbors.

Thus far, we have learned a number of important facts:

  Its history.

  The principles that guide the Red Cross are impartiality,  

  volunteering, universality, independence, humanity, neutrality

  and unity.

  How to recognize and apply first aid in case of an injury, a   

  fracture, or when a person has lost consciousness.

  The measures that we must take to provide care to a sick

  person, such as serenity, safety and promptness.

  The work that must be done when moving a sick person to

  a place where s/he can receive medical care. Something

  worth mentioning is the fact that the people at the Red Cross

  do their job without expecting a reward in return.

We all know that humankind has been struck by a number of disasters that cause economic and human losses. As part of our training, we are taught both theoretical and practical aspects of threats and hazards, and about the measures that the Civil Defense System takes to protect ourselves and others in the event of natural phenomena such as hurricanes, cyclones, tornadoes, floods and other hazards that we face almost every year. These also include man-made hazards such as fires, landslides and chemical accidents.

We also learn about the links between all the organizations that work in the country in these situations. For example, all organizations work jointly from the moment that the population is informed of a cyclone or during its warning stages. But their efforts do not end there; many of them also participate in the recovery stage after a disaster to build housing, reestablish services such as electricity, water, telephone and other things that the community needs for its normal development. This prevents people from feeling unprotected. We have witnessed this not only in our country but also when we have sent aid to other affected nations, or when we have received aid from other countries.

During these classes, we also study in-depth the behavior of children in the caring of the environment, beaches and rivers because our country is surrounded by water. We also visit the houses of our block so that we can fight against elements that might transmit diseases such as dengue.

In addition, we carry out activities jointly with grandparents' clubs and with vulnerable children, and we even bring them clothes that we no longer use or we make toys for the little ones.

In relation to all these issues, we do practical work individually and collectively, through which each participating child contributes with his/her imagination. I believe that the work done in these school clubs is essential to study in-depth these issues and develop the abilities required for our education.

At the personal level, I have had the opportunity to do some work with CLAMED through my poems. Also, through our activities I have learned about the work that they do, especially in terms of providing psychological help to the elderly, pregnant women, the disabled and people sick with AIDS or cancer. Activities have included exhibitions and role playing by which they have shared their experiences on how they stopped being needy people to become the actors of a battle for the good, and how they now feel useful to society.

I have not mentioned the children and adolescents as I have only referred to what we do. However, I would like to emphasize the fact that we are the ones who will continue this work in the future and, therefore, we must continue training ourselves.


  The school clubs for disaster and emergency situations are   

    an important means for educating children and adolescents;

  Work for preparing children and adolescents in these issues

    is essential to guarantee our future;

  We all can help prevent damage caused by disasters; and

  Through any artistic expression, sports, games and other

    activities we can work for preparing our own families and

    communities and to bring this message of hope to all  



  Please remember that even in the worst situations in this

    world, we can forge values and better prepare for life.

Before I finish, I wish to share with you a poem of my own inspiration, with the purpose of sending out a message to all the children of the world.

Masters of Hope

What a big web we will weavechildren of many lands, by intertwining our roots we will protect our world. Connected we will save all of humanity from any calamity that might bring it harm scaling every stair that brings us safety.

Each and every child shall guide the wellbeing of the future along a safe path since we will be prepared life will be beautiful dreams will come true as such a noble undertaking will makes us so much better because he who cultivates love shall be the master of hope.

Autora: Danais Milian Betancourt Escuela primaria: Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Municipio Arroyo Naranjo Ciudad de la Habana 6to grad