7-year-old boy draws landslide horrors

MADIKERI: Hundreds of children in rain-ravaged Kodagu have been displaced. They have lost books, uniforms and toys. Wary of lasting mental wounds the disaster could inflict on children, the district administration is striving to ensure normalcy and has launched daily activities in relief centres.

For example at the Mainthri hall in city, where over 500 survivors are staying, authorities have cordoned off a little space for children to draw and paint. Nineteen drawings of the children have been put on display here and one sketch has fascinated a number of visitors, including defence minister .

The drawing by Navinash, 7, a resident of Hebbatkeri which has been wiped out by landslides, portrays how his house was destroyed in a . It shows precisely the kind of impression the disaster has made on young minds. Navinash, a Class 2 student, told TOI that the horror began on August 16 when the house of a neighbor, an old woman, was washed away in floods and landslides.

“The old woman was screaming for help,” Navinash said. “But before I could alert my parents to the plight of the woman, she was washed away in a flood and the house was destroyed in a landslide. Soon after that, my parents decided to leave the village. Even before we left the village, our house too was destroyed. I am staying in the relief camp with my father Janardhan and mother Sharada.

Navinash added: “I want to become an engineer and evolve solutions for the problems people in villages have.”

Sitharaman was in tears when Navinash explained his drawing to her, but there are others too who have been portraying similar themes. Sixyear-old Arun, who was busy drawing on Friday, said: “Floods and landslides are bad memories. When we were asked to draw, most of us draw are drawing the same thing.”

Authorities say they are doing all they can to engage children in various activities including classes. “Two SSLC students are also in the relief centre,” an official said. “We are holding coaching classes for them. For other students we are holding spoken English and maths classes.”
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