This is Joana in the fifth grade, attending this school for the past five years, but everything changed after the night of February 6, 2023.
While the classrooms of this school did not collapse, its walls cracked, leading the authorities to decide to close it until repairs could be made.
The accomplished child felt the impact not only of the school closure but also the loss of her teachers and the school principal. She tells us, ‘We lost 12 teachers we loved due to the earthquake, and also Mr. Jamal, the school principal. He loved his work and cared for us greatly.’
Joana’s story mirrors that of many other children who faced the horror left by the earthquake. Perhaps she considers herself fortunate because the walls of her home did not collapse, but what she witnessed when leaving her house with her family was difficult to describe or bear.
She says, ‘All the buildings around us had collapsed and turned into rubble. On that day, I saw one of our neighbors carrying his injured daughter, trying to rescue her, but she died before he could help her. It’s a moment that’s hard to forget.’
Joana’s school was one of more than 2,100 schools affected by the earthquake, resulting in the disruption of education for hundreds of thousands of children, according to UNICEF statistics.
But for her, it was the most beautiful school, especially since it witnessed her academic achievements in previous grades. She wishes things could return to how they used to be, saying, ‘But I know that won’t happen. I lost many friends and teachers, and those who survived the earthquake left this place for other areas.’
She concludes, ‘But I dream of becoming a lawyer to protect my school from all circumstances.’