It must be barely comprehensible to the adult who witnesses a cyclone destroy their house, their neighbour's house, perhaps their entire community. So imagine how it feels to a child.
This is what Mahfuzur lived through at the tender age of 8 years old, when Cyclone Sidr struck his community in Bangladesh.
Mahfuzur has vivid memories of the night the cyclone hit. He had taken shelter with his grandmother inside the home of a local leader. They watched – terrified – as tree branches and corrugated iron sheets went flying through the air and slammed against windows.
Fortunately, Mahfuzur's older brothers heeded the warnings issued before the cyclone and moved him and his grandmother to a safe place. World Vision's preparatory work in Bangladesh meant that when forecasters issued a level 10 danger signal, staff from World Vision and other community organisations went from house to house. They used loudspeakers to tell people to take shelter. Mahfuzur's family home was badly damaged by the cyclone, and the family believes that the evacuation helped to save their lives.
But surviving the cyclone was one thing. Getting back to normal life is another.
Mahfuzur is now attending a World Vision Child Friendly Space set up to help children recover a sense of normal life and reduce their trauma following the cyclone. "We love to come to this centre. We have dolls, toys and other items to play with," says Mahfuzur. "Together we pass nice time here."
World Vision has opened nine Child Friendly Spaces in areas affected by Cyclone Sidr. A typical day there includes games, singing, painting and other creative activities, as well as storytelling, health and life skills education. The spaces also act as transition schools, where children prepare for their return to formal education.
Setting up Child Friendly Spaces is an integral part of World Vision's emergency relief work. Offering refuge to children – giving them a place where they are safe and able to safely play – is essential for their recovery.