I feel more ready to face a disaster
Teaching school children in Myanmar to survive a disaster
Myanmar suffers enough droughts, floods, and cyclones to make it one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. Brave school students like thirteen-year-old Su Wai Lwin are taking the lead on keeping themselves safer during emergencies.
For the last three months Su Wai Lwin has been a member of her School Disaster Management Committee in Yangon. As a member of the committee Su Wai Lwin is trained by Plan International to conduct search and rescue operations if a natural disaster strikes.
Today, her school conducted an exercise meant to simulate a real emergency. Their goal was to make sure that all students know how to get to a safe place, and how to help each other. Police and ambulance officers joined the simulation to make it as life-like as possible. This is the day she’s been practising for.
“I’ve never joined a project like this before,” said Su Wai Lwin. “When I joined the [committee] I got a better understanding of how to prepare for and respond to disasters, and I’ve been able to share my knowledge with my friends.”
Wearing bright orange overalls and a hard hat, Su Wai Lwin watches the 700 students at her school calmly evacuate during the simulation. Backpacks on their heads, the students make their way to an open space and their teachers quickly take attendance.
The search and rescue team look for missing students, put them on a stretcher and take them to the first aid station. Other students are ready with bandages and first aid kits and load the “injured” students into an ambulance.
In a real disaster, this preparedness and practice could help these children look after each other.
“I’d like to participate in the simulation next year, we should do this every year. This was the first time for us.”
“We have a responsibility to fulfil in this school and today we could put it into practice. The chance to practice our skills has been really good,” Su Wai Lwin explains.
Su Wai Lwin has been encouraged to be a female member of the search and rescue team, and has been supported by her classmates, teachers and family.
Plan International has been implementing Safe Schools projects in Rakhine State since 2014 supported by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.
This year is the first time Plan International Myanmar has worked in an urban setting in the country. The dangers students in urban areas face are quite different, as traffic, pollution and falling buildings affect them differently to students in rural areas. The project is designed to reflect these circumstances.