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  Turning disasters into learning opportunities  
Children of Tsunami: Guide for educators
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Secondary schools

Secondary School level activities

1. Know the Disaster

Group size: Entire Class

Duration: 2.5 – 3.0 hours

Objective: To better understand the disaster


If the class has access to internet, consider visiting these sites.

For classes without internet access, photocopies of printouts could be distributed, or a teacher could illustrate the phenomenon by diagrams drawn on a board, so that the class may engage in discussions.

Students could:

  1. Study the science of the tsunami while also using suitable reference books on wave theory in the library. Physics teachers could easily use the theory of the tsunami to illustrate the nature of waves.
  2. Do a study on earthquakes, as they are directly related to the generation of a tsunami.
  3. Discuss among themselves how a tsunami happens, and verify any unclear points with a teacher.

The Children of Tsunami videos could also be used as an informal discussion starting point to make students more interested in science, and appreciate its importance.

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2. Who is affected by the Tsunami?

Objective: To become aware of the complexity of the impact of a Tsunami, and to see who it affects the most?

Duration: 2.0- 2.5 hours

Group size: Entire class

Activity: Research ‘Children of Tsunami’ videos, and compile a list of losses each family has suffered. Whenever possible, add as annotations overall damage to their respective immediate societies.

It would be helpful to research separately for each affected country eg: India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand. Brief country profiles along with informative links are available here.

The search could be categorized in the following format.

Family Family Members lost Professions affected
Damage to housing Assets lost/ damaged Psychological affect esp. on children Damage to schools
Heshani’s family None Fisherman father loses his job, mother cannot bring in an income House irreparably destroyed Fishing boat, coir-rope making machines, Heshani’s books, certificates
Fear of sea, fear of returning to live close to the beach None

e.g., after the Tsunami there has been loss of lives, property and livelihoods. The fishing community was affected as a result of damaged fishing gear, leading to lost livelihoods. Those who survive the disaster continue to suffer until they are able to rebuild their lives. This is clear in the cases of Heshani, Mala and Theeban.

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3. The Recovery Process

Duration: 1.5 - 2.0 hours

  1. Compile a list of short-term measures that have been taken and those that should have been taken, for the recovery process of each COT family.
    (Ex: temporary campsites, medical attention, rations of nutritional value, monthly allowances, temporary schools)

  2. After making a basic list, expand on it, moving on to less evident requirements. (Ex: Taking measures against spread of disease within closely populated refugee camps (like Theeban’s), rainwater drainage alongside tents, psychiatrist care, healthcare for infants etc.)

  3. Next, compile a list of long-term services that need to be provided by relief organizations. (Ex: permanent housing, employment opportunities, holding awareness programs to interest children to return to school)

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4. Analysing family issues

  1. View the COT videos and get the students to write essays on what they think of the situations faced by the Children of Tsunami, and their families. This could be more emotive, less fact oriented, and could provide base material for a humanities or languages assignment.

  2. A longer article could be written evaluating the issues that have arisen as a result of the tsunami, in the communities of the COT families.

  3. Students could list what they think the government or NGOs could further do to help the Children of Tsunami, and their families.

  4. Optionally, students could write letters assuming that they are addressed to a child of tsunami, giving words of encouragement or empathy, and pointing out the importance of staying in school, if applicable.

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5. Whom to Contact

Objective: To be better prepared for a disaster

Group size: Entire class

Duration: 2 weeks


In the hour of crisis after a disaster strikes, who are the people and agencies that can help. Find out which are the departments in your country/state/neighbourhood that are working on disaster preparedness.

Make a list of the organizations and the specific role they play during and after a disaster. Assign groups of students to gather information on specific areas that need to be addressed after a disaster, e.g., rescue, relief and rehabilitation.

The suggested format is

Authority and Contact Details Responsible for

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6. Other activities

  1. Research similar disasters of the past and compare the global or local response, then and now.

  2. Depending upon the information gathered several other interesting debates could be held with reference to the COT video reports. Ex:
  • In terms of whether or not certain safety precautions are practical (the 100 meter limit in Sri Lanka)
  • Whether aid distribution should be handled in some other way
  • Whether or not most of the damage could actually have been avoided
  • Alternatively, students could suggest debate topics themselves.

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Dealing with Disasters, 2004, Centre for Environment Education