Killer quake haunts tiny survivors

Greater Kashmir

Srinagar, Mar 13: Seven-year-old Rehana (name changed) sketched a colourless and unoccupied house when the counselors of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) asked her and other quake-affected children, without telling the specifics of the subject, to draw.
Rehana was not the sole orphan who through her poignant drawing depicted how she perceives life and other things after losing parents in the devastating October 8 earthquake, which inflicted heavy causality on both sides of the Kashmir.
The sketches made by other orphans during an exhibition organised by the MSF, a Nobel prizewinner, also called ‘Doctors Without Borders,’ in Kashmir University campus here on Monday.
According to MSF’s mental health officer (Psychologist) Karen Abbs, all the 22 orphans aged between 5-14 after given the exercise without the theme surprisingly draw sketches of houses before and after the earthquake showing that they still remember their home. “The drawing reflect that they know what happened to their home considered by them as their symbol of center,” Karen told Greater Kashmir.
Referring to one of the sketches drawn by a child wherein he had drawn a line between his house before and after the earthquake struck, Karen said the line clearly indicates how the child feels a tremendous change in his life in the quake aftermath. The drawing shows his coloured house in proper condition and flowers blooming before the quake, and house separated by a line was shown destroyed and upside down. “This really shows how the quake has turned their lives upside down,” Karen said.
She said the absence of parents in the houses clearly indicates that the children have accepted the inevitable that they have lost their parents. “The uninhabited house shows the lost family,” she added.
Karen however said the children presently living in an orphanage were behaving normally, but beneath the surface they have a tale to tell.
“Their future will depend on the support they will be provided,” she said.
Other drawings depict child weeping under the cloud in front of empty devastated houses and houses turned into rubble after the high magnitude earthquake, the MSF team leader Farhat Mantoo told Greater Kashmir.