Monday, 18 May 2015

UNICEF’s psychosocial counselling on air is already making an impact

By Naresh Newar

On 7 May, Chiranjibi Adhikari, sitting with his injured 6-year-old son, Kritagya, in one of two UNICEF-provided tents set up on the grounds at Dhading District Hospital in the town of Dhading Besi, headquarters of Dhading District, speaks with a psychosocial counsellor live via his mobile telephone, during a segment of the UNICEF-supported Bhandai Sundai (Saying Listening) radio programme. ©UNICEF/2015/Panday.

Dhadingbesi, Nepal – Chiranjibi Adhikari had never seen his 6-year-old son Kritagya so restless.

“He is always looking for attention,” the 45-year-old said, “He wasn’t like this before."

Kritagya, he said, has been traumatised ever since the 7.8 Richter scale earthquake struck Nepal on 25 April 2015.

“I don’t know how to control this boy,” said Chiranjibi. “He is extremely panicky and nothing I do seems to calm him.”

The father and son were inside a UNICEF-provided medical tent in front of the Dhading Hospital in Dhadingbesi, the district headquarters of Dhading. UNICEF has provided two medical tents to the hospital to meet the demands of the increased number of patients visiting the hospital, especially with injuries related to the earthquake.

Kritagya, himself was brought to the hospital after he sustained an arm injury during an aftershock on 7 May.

When UNICEF Nepal office was informed about his situation, the team decided to link him up with its recently launched radio program Bhandai Sundai (Saying Listening). The afternoon slot of the show focusing on the psychosocial counselling for earthquake-affected children was about to go live in a few minutes. After a quick explanation, Chiranjibi was ready to phone in to speak to the psychologist about his son’s condition on air.

"I am worried that my son panics even if there is slight shaking,” he said on air.

Chiranjibi also said that other parents were as equally stressed as him while they were running out of ideas on how to control their panicky children.

The psychologist responded to Chiranjibi saying that parents and guardians should ensure that children understand that aftershocks are normal after a big earthquake and that children need to be occupied with games and child-friendly group activities to promote interaction among other children.

Satisfied with the response, Chiranjibi said that he hopes that the unique radio programme would “reach the millions of other parents who constantly suffer like me worrying about their children affected by earthquake.”

“I feel good now,” he added.

On 6 May 2015, UNICEF Nepal National Ambassador Ani Choying Drolma (center) and radio anchor Ram Abiral (left) interact with child guest Subhakar Chaulagain (right) during live programming of UNICEF Nepal’s Bhandai Sundai (Saying Listening) radio programme. ©UNICEF/2015/Shekhar.

The programme has been well received by Nepalese not only in the earthquake-affected districts but elsewhere also. Nepalese from all over the world have called in during the live programming to show support for people affected by the earthquake.

Celebrities, including UNICEF Nepal National Ambassador Ani Choying Drolma and the country’s Cricket captain Paras Khadka, have also participated in the programme to lift the spirits of millions of earthquake-affected children in Nepal. A well-known comedian and actor Jitu Nepal has also been providing entertainment to the children during the half-hour evening slot on Bhandai Sundai.