Counselling departments in schools should offer flood victims mental health support

Wornicks Gisemba

In the book Tough Times Never Last But Tough People Do, the author Robert Schuller points out that calamities are part of life and that it is nearly impossible for us to live calamity-free lives.

However, the late televangelist advises us to never give up no matter how tough situations get. He urges people to get creative and constructive in managing their problems so that they emerge triumphant.

Schools are reopening amid the flood ravages which have caused monumental pain and suffering to many.  The loss of property and demise of loved ones is heartrending, thus, so much is needed in the form of psychological support for both learners and staff who were affected.

Recorded as the severest weather catastrophe hitherto, instances of pity and horrendousness were witnessed. Some international media houses broadcasted the uncensored versions of the tragedy – parents carrying lifeless bodies of their children who perished at the Mai Mahiu tragedy, others recounting losing all their immediate family members to the horror, while others survived by the skin of their teeth. Such episodes will remain nightmarish and frightful anecdotes for the victims’ entire lives.

It is tear-jerking seeing properties worth millions, earned through years of self-sacrifice going down in a matter of seconds. Those servicing loans and mortgages will continue doing so even when their properties were swept away by the stormwaters. Banks will still run their automated monthly checkoffs regardless of the loanees’ conditions in the wake of this cataclysm. A teacher or staff who finds themselves in such a quagmire will surely be in turmoil for long, hence psychological support will be of utmost significance.


When life takes such a nasty turn, it takes a long time for people to adjust. The floods came at a time when the country is faced with economic downturns; no resources to cushion lives against such a calamity.

The media has been awash with heightened cases of suicide and other forms of crime, which are evidence of acute hopelessness and despair. Schoolchildren and staff could have witnessed or overheard about their family members, neighbors, friends, among others undergoing such distressing occurrences, hence the need for counselling.

Businesses whose merchandise was destroyed by floods may take long to recover; some may shut down forever, translating to massive job losses – more pain and agony. This affects the children whose parents could be the proprietors or employees therein. School staff whose businesses were affected this way could also be traumatised.

All of us should commiserate with those families that will once again sleep on an empty stomach because the floods blocked their only sources of livelihood — hawkers, boda boda riders, open-air market trader among others, without forgetting those evicted from riparian lands but have nowhere else to call home.

Let the government avail resources for counselling and therapy in schools, in coordination with the guidance and counselling departments.

The counsellors may not provide replacements for the lost lives and properties, but will restore hope that life won’t be eternally gloomy.

By Wornicks Gisemba

Wornicks Gisemba is a teacher of English at Nkoile Boys High School, Kajiado Central. He is also an author and editor.   Website:

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