Page last updated at 21:11 GMT, Thursday, 15 October 2009 22:11 UK
Hungry to learn across the world

School pupils affected by the earthquake in Padang, Indonesia, have been sending their stories to BBC News 'Hunger to Learn'.


The classroom Harris studies in was severely damaged by the quake

I am the head boy at our school, which has nearly 800 students.

Usually, I am busy with school activities such as organising a talent show and a province-wide science quiz.

But right now, our concentration is to make sure that all the books and equipment are cleaned up after the earthquake.

Our school is a three-story building. Most of it has been deemed unsafe.

Most pupils are now studying under four huge tents.

'Huge shaking'

I was at home when the quake struck.

I felt the world was going to come to an end

Padang, Indonesia

My cousin had just arrived and was about to sit on the sofa when this huge shaking started.

This was the first time I felt such a terrifying, major quake. I felt the world was going to come to an end.

My mother was on the bus, on the way home at 5pm.

What was usually a 20-minute ride home turned into a four-hour nightmare as the roads were blocked by fallen debris.

People panicked and rushed about on motors and cars, causing huge traffic jams.

Thank God, we all had the same cheap CDMA phone connection which did not crash like other phone providers and were able to talk to each other.

Tsunami fear

I live in a house just 500 metres away from the coast in an area called Tabing on the outskirts of Padang.

Harris says the disaster has brought pupils closer together

I know from news broadcasts after the 2004 tsunami that, after a strong quake happens, I should go to a higher place.

My brother, the house helper, my cousin and a neighbour jumped into a car.

Every so often I heard a crash. Cars collided into other cars or motorbikes. People were yelling and shouting. No one wanted to give way.

Everyone had this look of utter fear on their faces. They were muttering religious prayers.

We got as far as 3km up the road before we couldn't go any further because of bumper to bumper traffic.

We gave up and started walking to a house with a big garden. We stopped there with about a dozen people who also didn't know what else to do.

Talking about a problem doesn't mean that we are 'problem' kids

Padang, Indonesia

My mother said we should all meet up at the provincial parliament as it seemed a sensible central place to be in. We spent the night at an uncle's house, which was nearby.

A day later, we came back to our home. There were huge cracks on the floor and dirty water oozed out.

I don't really know from where; ground water or a burst water pipe. We cleaned up as best we can.

It's hard to be calm and sleep. We are afraid of aftershocks.

My father came home on Saturday - he works in a town 250km away. We wanted him to stay with us but he had to go back to his job.

He asked me to make sure that there was always a full tank of petrol in car in case another earthquake happened and to take care of my mother.

'Good to talk'

Talking about these events, I feel much closer to my friends.

Our teachers say that their doors are open.

Going to a teacher to talk about a problem doesn't mean that we are 'problem' kids.

Rich or poor, smart or dumb, popular or geeky, an earthquake doesn't pick or choose.

We collected donation for one teacher who, unfortunately, lost his son. Also for the family of an admin staff who died.

She actually was already safe but she went back into her house to search for her elderly mother. The roof caved in, she fell and couldn't get out as her legs were trapped under a concrete boulder.

Our headmaster, Jufril Siry, rushed to her house and was able to talk to her through the cracks. But the search and rescuers couldn't haul the blocks and she grew weaker and died.

Haria's school was shaken by the disaster

I live on the second floor of a two-storey shop.

We sell building materials like cement and iron bars downstairs and live on the second floor.

Just my luck, I was in our bathroom when the quake the struck.

Grabbing my sarong, I rushed out but the tremors were so strong, I lost my balance and tumbled down the stairs.

'Crashing down'

Everything was a blur as I forgot to snatch my glasses and I am very short-sighted.

I remember someone grabbing my arm to help me down the stairs.

I looked up and barely missed the roof crashing down... I was so close to death

Padang, Indonesia

As soon as I was at the bottom of the stairs, I looked up and barely missed the roof crashing down. I was so close to death.

Flower pots tumbled down; the windows frames and the floors of the second building floor collapsed.

I knew about the possibility of a tsunami after a quake because Padang is a coastal town. But my legs just froze.

I didn't want to run to higher ground. I wanted to stay put so that my parents could find me.

Two hours later, my parents came home.

'No privacy'

We are now staying at a cousin's home. All five of us are staying in one room, with the stuff that we managed to salvage from our house: clothes, books, plates and a stove.

Haria at a temporary tent school where she is now studying

It's very hard not to have my privacy any more. I can hardly study because there is a small toddler who cries a lot right now.

I can't possibly tell him to be quiet because he is just a baby and I am very conscious that I am staying at another person's house.

We missed just two days of school because classes started on Monday.

We must start studying again because exams are very close. It's really important.

I really want to get into a good university and study at the Faculty of Medicine. Four hundred students compete for one seat there.

I used to study all the time, even during break and at free periods, but this is very hard to do at the moment.

I don't know when I will be back in my home

Padang, Indonesia

Right now, my friends and I are on our mobile phones a lot, texting the latest news. I watch 24-hour news channels much more too.

It's a very hard thing to accept that such a tragedy happened here in my town.

It's all very unsettling. I couldn't believe that one of the admin staff died with her legs crushed.

My headmaster recounted the story and there was a chilling silence.

Thank God, none of the students died.

'Everyone suffers'

I don't know when I will be back in my home. I don't know if I can do my exams, I don't know if I get into the university of my choice.

My friends have been very kind. I think I have suffered the worst among my friends as to the extent of the damage to our homes.

They have offered me to stay at their homes so we can study together.

Saying that, everyone suffers because electricity still comes and goes, so many times we are plunged in darkness at night.

I can't think about leaving my family even for one night. Not right now.

Your comments:

My home in Australia was burned down in a bush fire. I hope you recover really well and I hope it doesn't happen again to you. Be with your friends and try to keep smiling.

Amy, Healesville, Australia


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