Thursday, September 10, 2015

Locked Doors

Disasters, by its definition, refers to a sudden accident or natural catastrophe that causes great damage or loss of life. Many disasters are often unavoidable but there are many that are avoidable, if we take the necessary precautions. We must try to ensure that avoidable disasters be avoided, at all costs.

I am absolutely saddened by the news of the tragic fire accident in Phuentsholing yesterday. The loss of one’s home and material possessions are a very sad loss indeed. But the loss of lives, of young and innocent children – that is a loss of such immense magnitude.

My heart goes out the families of the two children who were victims of the fire yesterday that gutted so many homes as they struggle to live with this tragedy.
So what can we do to avoid such disasters in the future?

Disaster preparedness is a much broader issue and not one that I want to examine here. My immediate thought is that often it is the locked doors that prevents children from finding their way to safety. The caregivers may keep their children locked inside for many possible reasons i.e. there is no one else to care for them, or keeping them safe and out of harm’s way, or simply not having thought of possible dangers and implications etc. It could be that they leave the child unattended for a short time to get something from the shop or the neighbour’s house – but those minutes could make the difference between life and death.
What happens if there is a fire, like this one? Or there is an earthquake? This is definitely a possibility given the highly volatile seismic zone Bhutan is in.

What happens when the place of safety becomes a prison for them?
Apart from the long-term negative psychological impacts to children, confinement ‘for one’s own safety and protection’ can be a dangerous thing indeed.

It is time for us to think and reflect on this. There are so many children who are kept behind locked doors when parents go to work. There are also many institutions where children may be kept under lock and key in the dormitories for ‘their own safety’. We need to be made more aware about the possible dangers that this could give rise to and find other ways of dealing with a situation.
Finding other options can be difficult especially in the fast changing world in which we live. But we need to ensure that we find those options.

Otherwise the alternative is too tragic to consider.

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