In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, one of the most damaging natural disasters in U.S. history, those hardest hit by the storm were disproportionately children, immigrants and families with low-income. As if simply surviving the storm wasn’t challenging, now they are struggling to pick up the pieces.
This has included over 400 classrooms in 90 schools, which have had to be completely relocated due to damage. At a time when most kids were filing back to school, nearly one million children in Texas were unable to even start.
UNICEF’s mission is to save and protect the world’s children, and we hold a special place in our hearts for teachers who are key to transforming lives and building better futures. So in the aftermath of Harvey, it was clear to us where we needed to send our relief efforts—helping Houston’s most disadvantaged children (and their teachers) resume their education.
Working directly with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and 10 Houston school districts, we are:
- providing counseling and emotional support for children whose lives have been turned upside-down by the storm;
- setting up child-friendly spaces around the region;
- giving support to teachers whose schools have been damaged or destroyed; and
- helping to repair and reopen 27 early childhood development centers
Two weeks ago with a team of incredible partners and volunteers (most from UPS), our team assembled more than 400 “comfort kits” containing critical classroom supplies and learning materials. These were distributed to teachers at 90 schools last week so schools so they can get back to the business of educating their students—and can help more than 13,000 displaced students feel a little more ready to learn and a lot more comforted in their new “schools.”
On World Teacher’s Day and every day, we owe a world of gratitude to all teachers, and we give a special salute to teachers in Houston, Florida, Mexico, Puerto Rico and every place that has suffered recent disaster. Teachers, you are our heroes!