IN the wake of what’s being called one of Australia’s worst natural disasters, independent organisation Save the Children has been providing vital support to flood-affected Emerald children at the community recovery centre.
And now, after witnessing the demand for their services in town, representatives from the organisation are looking into the possibility of establishing a permanent base in Emerald.
On Monday, January 10, three representatives from STC arrived in Emerald after a four-day journey from the coast to set up a mobile play centre for children at the community recovery centre.
“Save the Children is solely child-focused and we set this area up so the kids could play while their parents are doing whatever they need to do in the centre,” STC’s Frankie Buchanan said.
“We brought a bus with all the supplies we need in it.
“The idea is to keep the children occupied and reduce any possibility of this being a traumatic experience for them.
“It’s important they don’t have to listen to their parents tell the same story over and over to all the different agency representatives around the centre.
“We’re looking into setting up a base camp in Emerald - it’s something we’d very much like to do.”
Tweed Heads’ Dean Wrobel, one of the three STC workers in town, said he identified a need for a permanent STC base in Emerald as soon as he witnessed the devastation.
“Two out of the three childcare centres went underwater and may be out for sometime,” he said.
“So being able to set up a permanent base here would be something that could greatly benefit the community and the children who are suffering.
“We hope to get some assessors to town as soon as possible and hopefully they’ll see the same need we’ve seen and the project can move forward from there.”
The children have been completing artwork during their time at the recovery centre, which is being stuck up on the walls to form a colourful display that brightens the mood in what would otherwise be a solemn place.
“We’ve been told these (kids’ paintings) are going to go up in the council chambers - they’re going to make an art gallery,” Ms Buchanan said.
“Feedback has been absolutely fantastic from the community right across the board. I suppose it can be a bit of a gloomy place but the smiling kids seem to have an affect on the mood of a lot of people.
“Everyone’s come from all over Australia to work here and it’s a really great team.
“I think some of the adults enjoyed doing the artwork as much as the kids did.
“It’s been hard for some of us, some of us are from Brisbane and other affected towns and we’ve been away from home which always makes it difficult, but it’s been good to be able to keep busy and the children make it very rewarding.”
Mr Wrobel said the only tears he had seen had come when parents attempted to get their children to leave.
“... hopefully they’ll see the same need we’ve seen...”
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