Monika, 16, lives in a village that is experiencing increasingly regular disasters. With the community lacking the knowledge they need to reduce the risks they face - they often pay a high cost each year. So, when Plan International started a Safe Schools project at her school, Monika was keen to get involved.
“I attended a number of training sessions being held under the programme. It was the first time I had learnt how to stay safe from various types of disaster such as earthquakes, flooding, landslides and fire while at school and at home,” says Monika who lives in Sunsari district in eastern Nepal.
As an active member of the school community and a natural leader, Monika was nominated to be a disaster risk reduction (DRR) champion. Along with a group of 20 other ‘DRR champions’, Monika is responsible for raising awareness among the student population on how stay safe during an emergency.
The group members have also identified potential hazards and vulnerabilities at their school through a risk mapping process and developed action plans which include evacuation and contingency procedures, among other vital disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation activities.
What Monika did to raise awareness of COVID-19 risks
When COVID-19 started to spread in Nepal, it could not be ignored and the DRR champions set about creating a plan to raise awareness about the disease, both in their school and the wider community. Monika, along with the other group members, received training on how to wear face masks properly, wash their hands correctly and the importance of maintaining social distance.
“We ran a number of sessions to share the information with our peers so that they could also learn how to contribute to prevent the spread of the disease. My colleagues at school were excited to learn how to stay safe during the pandemic,” Monika says.
My colleagues at school were excited to learn how to stay safe during the pandemic.
16-year-old Saugat who joined one of her training sessions says he found out a lot of things he didn’t know. “I learnt how to wear the mask from the session, before that we didn't know how to wear it properly.”
Commitment sets an example
Monika’s school was closed for eight months during the height of the pandemic and has only recently reopened with all the necessary restrictions in place which the DRR champions ensure are followed to keep everyone safe.
Monika's commitment to her school and community has set a strong example for other girls at the school, showing them that they can also take on leadership roles and drive change.
I feel happy and confident to share my knowledge to protect our community from disasters and this now includes COVID-19.