After months of preparation, the Rescue Global team has returned from giving their Disaster Resilience workshop in Nepal, funded this year by the Thales Foundation. The programme was created to train children in teaching basic search and rescue techniques, household and community preparedness, and self-rescue should they be affected by a disaster. After twelve days in the field, the Rescue Global surpassed their goal and trained over 400 students and scouts in the Kathmandu region of Nepal.
In 2017, the disaster preparedness programme focused on the training of community leaders, as they can use their influence to spread knowledge about resilience. This year, the 2019 programme focused on children, as Nepalese demographics show an ever-growing large youth population. By targeting this age group, a significant portion of the population has access to the appropriate knowledge.
Furthermore, studies show that engaging children in preparedness techniques immediately improves protection for this vulnerable group. The programme consisted of training groups of students and in particular, scouts, who often are among the first responders in the aftermath of disasters in Nepal, assisting in community search and rescue programmes and giving first aid.
Working in partnership with Nepalese organisations, SMARTNepal and the Himalayan Rescue Association Nepal (HRA), the training was delivered in Nepali in order to ensure that the students understood both language and context more fully. After working together to prepare an age-appropriate workbook, specifically designed to elicit questions, convey comprehensive information and engage students in interactive activities, the participants received demonstrations of techniques and best practices in disaster situations.
The topics covered included preparing disaster kits, building shelters, preventing the spread of infections, and the warning signs and dangers of altitude sickness. A large majority of the students remember the disastrous 7.8 magnitude earthquake in 2015 and understood the need for the training, as well as being extremely enthusiastic about the project.
In total, 406 students and scouts were trained, over 4x the initial target. In addition to the training of students, the Rescue Global team was busy collecting information from teachers and local populations to better understand what communities in Nepal need during and after a natural disaster. After seeing such positive results, the training for next year aims to train 2,500 children and is gaining interest in other hazard-prone countries like the Philippines and the Caribbean.