In May 2016, we organised our first ever playscheme in Loco; a community we had just begun to work with. The playscheme offered a week full of hope, life, colour and fun for the children of Loco and gave us the opportunity to introduce ourselves to the community, especially the children.
We've just returned from our second successful playscheme this year, where we saw such a dramatic transformation compared to just one year ago. The most obvious physical transformation was our brand new Early Childhood Development Centre, which opened last year, and provided the bright and colourful space we needed for morning lessons. But the difference in the children was huge.
Read more about the transformation of this local community, all made possible thanks to your support.
Hosted by Children on the Edge Africa, with volunteers from The Body Shop At Home™, this year's playscheme was attended by over 300 excited children. They enjoyed a week of fun activities, from storytelling, football, three-legged races, drawings, crafts, music and parachute games. The highlight of the week for most of the children is the bouncy castle which was set up on Friday morning.
Every day involved structured educational classes for younger and older children in our ECD Centre in the morning, with the afternoon set aside for fun and games. Each day had a different focus: Monday was literacy; Tuesday was numeracy; Wednesday was the environment; Thursday was storytelling and Friday, well Friday, was bouncy castle day, with music, dancing and face painting!
Led by the ECD teachers and COTE Africa staff; with support from The Body Shop At Home™ volunteers, the children were taught counting songs; read story books; learnt about their local environment; made musical instruments and learnt about personal safety by identifying 'safe' and 'unsafe' places or objects in their local area. The 'Hungry Caterpillar' proved a very popular story for the younger children, with the older children enjoying 'Handa's Surprise'.
The week was a huge success. And for our The Body Shop At Home™ volunteers, Sophie, Hayley and Claire, the playscheme had a particularly powerful impact on them:
Sophie said "I want to say a massive thank you for allowing me to be part of a team who has made life changing experiences from day one not just for the children of Loco but also for myself. I was enabled to do activities I wouldn't normally do and really enjoyed myself, especially hearing the children laugh and seeing them smile. I never knew the full extent of what Children On The Edge do as we don't see behind the scenes but now I can explain to everyone I see with more passion in my heart to get the word out what you guys really do. Thank you from the bottom of my heart x".
Hayley said "What an experience being a volunteer for the 2017 playscheme! It pushed me out of my comfort zone and enabled me to try things I wouldn't usually do. I've learnt so much in such a short space of time and have memories I will treasure for a lifetime. From the second we landed in Entebbe to the moment we stepped back into England I was enchanted by the people I've met, the places I've seen and the phenomenal work Children On The Edge continue to do. Thank you for a truly life changing experience!"
Claire said: "I've had such an amazing experience with a fantastic group of people. It was completely humbling and we met some wonderful people, both young and old, I didn't want to leave. Seeing what Children on the Edge has done for the communities in Uganda first hand has been a real eye opening experience, and makes you appreciate what you have at home a little more. From the results this fantastic charity have achieved so far, it definitely proves you get better results with honey than vinegar. I feel more informed about the work Children on the Edge do and more confident to advocate on their behalf now. Thank you for allowing me to share this amazing experience with you".
The Body Shop At Home™ volunteers who joined us this year are all consultants or Managers who fundraise tirelessly for Children on the Edge. Along with colleagues at The Body Shop™ and The Body Shop At Home™, they provide vital financial support for our work with vulnerable children, especially in Uganda.
We're currently looking for a Trusts and Foundations Research Volunteer to help us for 1 day a week for 3 - 6 months in our offices in Chichester, West Sussex. Could you help? Or maybe you know someone who can?
Volunteering with Children on the Edge is a great way to support real and lasting change to the lives of vulnerable children. If you're looking for a career change, or a are a student or graduate who would like to get into International Development, then this volunteer role is a perfect opportunity to gain some valuable hands-on experience in the sector. Our own staff know only too well, that this type of experience can make a huge difference when applying for jobs with NGOs in the UK or abroad. As a small organisation, you will get the chance to really get 'stuck in' with our work, and understand what we do and how we do it.
As Trusts and Foundations volunteer, you will spend time researching trusts, foundations and any other potential funding opportunities for Children on the Edge, from within the UK, Europe and internationally. You will be directly supporting our Grants Officer, Sarah, who makes applications to funders, reports on all our projects around the world and brings in vital funding for our work. By supporting Sarah, you will be making a direct difference to the lives of vulnerable children around the world and helping to ensure our projects are successfully funded.
As part of the role, you will develop an in depth understanding of Children on the Edge and our work around the world and for the right person, there is scope to write small funding applications and project reports.
You can find out more about the role and exactly what's involved in the Role Description.
Who are we looking for?
We are looking for an organised, methodical and enthusiastic individual, educated to A-level standard or higher. You'll need to have a basic understanding of, and an interest in the work of Children on the Edge, International Development and fundraising.. With excellent written and verbal communication skills, attention to detail and a proficiency in Word/Pages, Excel/Numbers and internet search engines, you'll be able to organise your work and use your own initiative and nouse to research potential funding opportunities. We'd love you to have an understanding of and some experience in using databases (e.g. Salesforce), but we can show you the ropes if not.
We'll provide plenty of support to get you started; and our lovely team in Chichester are great at making tea and providing biscuits to keep you sustained while you're with us. Our two office dogs, Otto and Monty will also make you feel welcome, especially around lunch time!
The nitty gritty
If you are interested in this role, please send a copy of your CV and a cover letter outlining how you fit the qualities and skills outlined in the role description before midday on 9th June 2017 to:
Sarah Collinson, Grants Officer: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you'd an informal chat about the role, or if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call or email Sarah Collinson on 01243 538530 | email@example.com
In Patna, India we support two local partners who are using education and non-violent community action to tackle the culturally ingrained caste system. In addition to basic education, the centres run by these organisations are focussed on helping children to be aware of their rights, to respect and value other people and build a more inclusive society.
A big component of this is learning about gender equality. Sr Veena who leads this work in the urban slums of Patna says ‘We were not aware of the extent of gender inequality and bias that exists in our society. We realised through the classes that adolescent girls and children were just accepting the social barriers in their homes and in public places”.
Girls at home are regularly denied various items like ghee and milk, and are given poorer quality clothes. Through the gender equality classes, they began to challenge this in their families, and at least 44 have already seen their home situations improve.
The gender equality classes are directed at those not already in the centres, and they cover a range of subjects including ‘good touch and bad touch’, ideas of gender and how they are acquired, gender inequality at home, group pressure, violence, media and ‘the qualities of an empowered person’.
A major social barrier for girls here is access to learning. After this programme 88 children joined the education programme, 35 of these had never had any schooling and 80% were girls. Having gained the confidence to negotiate with their parents about the importance of education, these girls were allowed to begin classes.
One girl called Joya said “I was a very shy person. I had lot of fear. Even if someone beat me I never said anything. My teacher understood my problem, and through the gender training we were told we have to raise our voice against injustice and violence. I was not allowed to study. But at home I fought for my right to study after the training. I am a girl and I have a right to learn”.
The equality classes are for both boys and girls, with the understanding that everyone must work together to make a change. One boy called Vikas described how “We learnt so much more than just ‘school’ at the Centre. We learned about gender awareness, ‘Peace Day’ and ‘good touch and bad touch’. One day on the road I was walking. I saw a man touching a girl badly. I told him that you have no right to touch the girls. He was ashamed and put his head down and said ‘sorry’ to the girl and left her alone. I thank Ms Amisha for giving the class on good and bad touch.”
Outside of these classes work is done with parents through local Women’s Groups. These groups learn about saving and business, about how to claim the land and financial opportunities they are entitled to and how to create a groundswell of awareness regarding their rights. Through this they receive training on gender equality, helping them to understand that equal rights for their children starts at home. This has sometimes been a challenge, as Sr Veena describes:
“For women in the groups, it was very difficult for them to accept that they discriminate against their daughters and daughters-in-law at home. It will take time for women to accept that much gender discrimination is done by them at home. Unless you accept this, there cannot be any change. Three child marriages (of 13-14 year old girls) from one centre were stopped due to this awareness. At the same time three young girls were married from this area. It is a challenge for us we need to create more awareness about child marriage in the community”.
The teachers at the centres are all trained in gender equality, and many have struggled with social barriers themselves. Prisha was made to work with her father, from the age of 6 to 15 years in a footpath tea stall. Working until 10 pm each day, the intense workload and unhygienic condition of the place resulted in her legs and hands becoming deformed.
Sister Veena describes how “She did not give up her will to be educated. She cried insistently, so her father allowed her to attend the government school during the day. The problem was that there was no time to study or do homework, but she used to hide her book in the shop and continue her studies through to grade 10. Whenever he saw her studying in the shop, she was scolded and her books were thrown away.”
Soon after this her parents sent Prisha to another workplace outside the area. At this point our local partners supported her, brought her back to Patna and enabled her to begin her higher level study. She is teaching in one of the education centres and caring for other girls who are facing barriers to education.
Veena describes how at the start of the gender equality lessons, the girls were all intent on being called ‘son’ by family members and people in the community, rather than ‘daughter’. They said that they preferred the sense of identity it gave them. After four trainings, the girls all changed their thought patterns and expressed a desire to to be called ‘daughter’. Families started to increasingly adopt the term ‘Beti’, meaning ‘dear or darling daughter’.
Find out more about the work we support in India and consider joining us by clicking one of the action buttons below.
In Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, we work with local partners to provide education for around 500 Syrian refugee children. Most of these children are living in informal settlements on the border and are provided with child-friendly education in tent schools. We support the training of Syrian refugees as teachers, so the children can learn within their own culture and feel a sense of safety and familiarity.
One of the schools for refugees is based in a thriving Community Centre, run by our partners in Beirut. It caters for both Syrian and Iraqi refugees and not only provides education, but is a hub for the wider support of the refugee communities and the Lebanese poor.
Project leader Nuna Matar says “Life is difficult in the refugee settlements, but refugees in Beirut face huge difficulties too. There are people living on rooftops and in garages, they have no facilities, they can’t send their children to school and face a lot of discrimination”.
Over 100 children attend educational classes at the Centre, studying English, Arabic, maths, art and computers. It also provides psycho-social classes for around 300 children, vocational training and adult education. There are monthly clothes distributions and computer lessons for all ages to enable learning and contact with relatives back in Syria and Iraq.
Noora fled her city in Iraq where her husband worked in a restaurant, when it was surrounded by ISIS. They first fled to the north of the country with their three children, witnessing people killed around them and enduring a four hour journey on foot. “Everyone was afraid”, says Noora, ”we left with nothing at all. The children still remember this day and have nightmares”. After a month or so they made the trip to Beirut to find safety.
“Life is very difficult in Beirut. I worry about my children as there are no doctors and medication is too expensive. My husband has found work in construction but not enough for the rent, which is for two small rooms. With my parents, there are now eight people in these rooms. I feel safer here but the children still play games about war and shooting, and we have no security for the future.”
Noora has registered for an English summer school at the Centre to give her more options in the years to come, and her children come along to the education classes. The Centre in Beirut is a lifeline for refugees like Noora. It is attended by around 800 people a day, with new registrations every week.
Find out more about the work we support in Lebanon and consider donating to the project with the button below.
Burma’s Kachin people have suffered enormously at the hands of their own government in an ongoing conflict which has worsened in recent months. After military attacks and occupation, thousands of displaced people have been forced from Zai Awng camp and are now struggling in a hastily constructed settlement in northern Kachin.
We are currently the only international organisation working with this forgotten community in the remote mountain camps. Our Asia Regional Manager, John Littleton visited this extremely hard-to-reach area of Burma in April 2017 and found that the situation has changed drastically, with many children now in increasingly desperate need of support.
We’ve been working for a number of years in high-altitude, internally displaced people's (IDP) camps, including Zai Awng, providing education for 629 Kachin children, in 14 Early Childhood Development Centres. These safe spaces have given young children vital opportunities to learn, play and get the support they need, so that they are able to grow and develop, in spite of the daily realities of war.
However, the intensified conflict in recent months, including air attacks and shelling has made these camps increasingly unsafe. Thousands of people were forced to flee Zai Awng late last year, looking for refuge over the border in China, only to be met with beatings and forced back, before fleeing again to stay safe. They hid in the jungle until troops withdrew. Some returned to the old camp but were not seen again, so the remaining 2,000 people built a new camp and called it Sha It Yang. This terrified and traumatised community have nowhere left to run, and are living in appalling conditions with little food and no clean water.
Three teachers from our Centre in the original camp in Zai Awng have remained with the community and re-built a safe space for children in Sha It Yang. They have set up two classes but there is need for another four.
Children are in desperate need of support after what they have been through, with teachers reporting that the even Chinese New Year firecrackers heard across the border are now terrifying for them. One teacher said, “We are doing the best we can, but naturally the children are quieter, less active and less able to be engaged and creative. The wider community is so tired of the fighting, they just want to go home, and they don’t understand why the world isn’t paying attention”.
In the northern camps of Kachin state there is not a single other international organisation offering ongoing support to children. As the area remains an active war zone, access to the camps is difficult. Aid agencies sporadically operate in the central government controlled regions of Kachin State, but leave when the operating environment becomes too difficult.
We are appealing for donations to ensure we can both maintain and expand our work here, to meet the escalating need in the new camp.
If you are unable to support the work here financially, please share this blog where you can to direct attention to a terrified group of civilians, currently forgotten by the international community, yet in need of critical help.
Few people are aware that the India-Nepal border is one of the largest corridors for human trafficking on the planet. While the outside world pays little notice, the problem has reached endemic proportions with an estimate of nearly 200,000 Nepalis having already been trafficked into India.
The vast majority of these victims are women and children who are subjected to forced labour, prostitution, and sexual abuse. The porous, 400-mile-long border between southern Nepal and Bihar, one of India’s poorest states, is an ideal environment for traffickers to operate within. There has been a further spike in the trafficking of women and children since the devastating April 2015 earthquake in Nepal.
Each year an estimated 7,000-10,000 women and children are trafficked through Bihar, many ending up in de facto slavery in Bihar’s red-light zones. With nearly a quarter of those trafficked below the age of 16, the situation is particularly grave for children. Currently, the precedent for young girls in these communities is to follow their mothers into prostitution.
What we are doing to help
Together with local organization Tatvasi Samaj Nyas (TSN), Children on the Edge has established two education and skills training centres in two of Bihar’s most prominent red light areas. Cut off from society at large, the government will not run schools in the red-light areas, so these centres aim to provide training and care to some of India’s most vulnerable children. By offering basic education and information about their value and rights as children, the hope is that these children will explore alternative options to the sex trade.
Currently the main activity at the centres is a sewing skills programme which provides preparatory job training to 15 teenage girls at each site. The goal of this is to not only to equip young women with a skill with which they can support themselves, but also provide a practical means for them to leave the red-light area where they live.
Each student is provided with their own sewing machine, which will then belong to her upon completion of the programme. “Having a machine of their own to start a new life with, gives these girls so much more confidence,” says John Littleton, our Asia Regional Manager. “These young women would otherwise be unable to save the money needed to buy one, without resorting to loan sharks or prostitution. It’s a small gift that can make a huge difference in the trajectory of their lives.”
Without this type of training, the girls report that the overwhelming expectation upon them is to work in the sex trade by age 18 or sometimes younger. For this reason, the sewing skills programme provides a critical way out of prostitution for 30 women each year.
Conditions are cramped in the classrooms, yet the enthusiasm of the girls is clear to see. Lajuli aged 14, says, “I am hoping that these classes will give me a way to leave this community.” Her goal is to become a seamstress and sewing teacher in the nearby town of Prunea once her training is complete later this year. From there, she says, she can begin a new life outside of the brothel area.
Further, the programme offers non-formal education classes in subjects like math and literacy to over sixty school-aged children at two learning centres in the red-light areas. These centres are a place where children can leave behind the uncertainty of their surroundings and feel secure. Teachers are trained to work with the students to create a safe and caring environment where the children are free to express themselves.
For young Mehul, aged 10 years old, these classes are the only exposure to education he has ever received. His typical day is spent helping his father work the crops in a nearby field and care for his younger siblings. His favourite subject is maths, and he hopes that the skills he learns will prepare him to run his own shop someday.
Special effort is also made to emphasise the intrinsic value of each child, as migrants or members of the Dalit castes often feel scorned by the society around them. The aim of the programme is to educate them about their rights and help them engage with the world outside of the red-light district.
Our aim is to build the capacity of these Centres and link them with our partners in Patna for training, so they can strengthen their current small-scale education provision for children living in these communities. The Centres will develop their teaching, enabling students to receive lessons in reading, writing, maths, and hygiene, alongside creative activities important for helping them cope with their difficult surroundings. We would also like to build up more resources for the sewing programme.
On Sunday 9th April 2017 Kelly, Sarah, Paul, and Andrew all ran 26.2 miles to raise money for Children on the Edge at the Brighton Marathon.
On one of the hottest days of the year so far, our four amazing runners absolutely excelled themselves and took on a challenge to remember in the sunny seaside city of Brighton.
For Kelly, Sarah and Paul, it was their first ever marathon, and all three completed it in hugely respectable times. And even more respectable were their fundraising totals. At the latest count, Kelly has raised £1414, Paul on £1200 and Sarah at £1181 – an absolutely incredible total between them.
Andrew, a veteran runner, who volunteers with our Chichester Half Marathon team took on the marathon, despite just recovering from an injury; all to raise funds for our work with vulnerable children overseas. In just a few weeks, he raised a great £435, also an amazing effort.
Raising £4320 in between them; this sum will help us to do so much to help vulnerable children overseas. For example, £4320 is enough to cover the costs of running one of our tent schools for Syrian refugee children in Lebanon for 100 children, for 43 days.
Paul said that the best thing about the challenge was knowing he was helping to change the lives of individuals he’ll never meet on the other side of globe. After completing the Birmingham Half Marathon in November last year, he wanted to take on a new challenge now he had some time to commit to the tough training regime required for a marathon. A personal trainer by trade and as well as a talented martial arts competitor, he found that training with his clients broke up the monotony of the long hours of training runs during the winter months. Paul’s not been put off doing another marathon either, he said “after my positive experience with the children on the Edge charity and the Brighton Marathon I am considering the Edinburgh Marathon 2017 at the end of May so watch this space!”
Sarah - the fastest of all our runners – said: “As awful as I felt during the run, I had access to doctors, I was able to get myself food and drink to recover, I got home to a warm bath and a bed to sleep in. When I think of those I set out to help, it makes my struggles on race day feel small but my sense of achievement feels great”. She said that starting the marathon knowing that she had hit her fundraising target was really motivating and along the appreciated the 'amazing' atmosphere and the level of support from the crowds. When asked what the hardest part of the challenge was; Sarah said it was all her training during the cold, dark months whilst juggling work and family life. Sarah even had to do a three hour training run in hurricane Doris!
Andrew told us that having secured a place at the Brighton Marathon last year, he didn’t want to miss an opportunity to raise funds for Children on the Edge. He’s volunteered for us for the past year, helping with the Chichester Half Marathon event. Despite being a veteran runner, he said that raising money to help the vulnerable children we work with gave him a focus and a reason to keep going during the marathon itself. What’s next for Andrew? He’s considering an ultra-marathon!
For Kelly, she wanted to take on the marathon to tick it off her bucket list. She also said that she wanted to run her first marathon for an organisation she knew and trusted, rather than just applying for another charity place. Knowing about our work - having volunteered on some of our projects in Romania and East Timor, and whilst working for us in Indonesia many years ago – meant that she has a real understanding of what Children on the Edge does. She said that the best thing about her challenge was that she raised a lot more money that she had hoped; which has a big impact for a small charity like us. The worst thing for Kelly, was the 21 degree heat on the day itself (it was a very hot April 9th for all the runners!).
We’re so proud and inspired by all our Brighton Marathon runners this year. They’ve done an incredible job of fundraising for Children on the Edge, as well as completing the marathon itself. Their efforts will make such a huge difference to our work.
Are you inspired to take on the Brighton Marathon in 2018? We have five charity places available, find out more and apply. Don't fancy a marathon? We'd love you to fundraise for Children on the Edge with your own challenge event. Find out more.
Since June 2011 the Burmese central government has been in open conflict with the Kachin Independence Army following a failure in peace talks to resolve their longstanding conflict. While this conflict dates back decades, the past six years have seen consistent fighting, displacing more than 120,000 people across Northern Burma.
In 2012 we heard first-hand accounts of those fleeing the conflict, who spoke of brutal violence, ongoing atrocities and severe violations of human rights including the wide-spread burning of villages, rape, maiming and executions.
Now the government appears determined to crush this last remaining pocket of wide-spread armed resistance in Burma and their tactics have been increasingly harsh. In October, with significant natural resources and political influence at stake, they began to use jets, helicopters and shelling to attack civilians in the camps where we work.
Zai Awng was one of the camps hit the hardest, with 3,000 displaced Kachin people living up in the mountains on the China border, taking refuge there since 2012. The October air attacks drove them out of the camp and over the border into China where they were badly beaten by authorities. Forced to turn back to Burma, they hid in the jungle until the troops withdrew. They returned to Zai Awng but in November the shelling resumed and they had no option but to flee again, hiding in a different part in China, then taking a different route back over the border.
Any people who attempted within that month to return to the old camp disappeared, so the 2,000 people that remained built a new camp, closer to Laiza, called Sha It Yang. The terrified community are hoping this location could be safer, but are traumatised by their experience and livng with the knowledge that if they are attacked again, there is nowhere to run to. The conditions here are appalling, with thousands of people living under tarpaulin and only one road in or out. Food supplies are scant and the water is unsanitary, especially after rain, which saturates the area causing many problems.
Three teachers from our Centre in the original camp have remained with the community and worked to re-build a safe space for children. They have set up two classes but there is need for another four. Children are in desperate need of support after what they have been through, with teachers reporting that the even Chinese New Year firecrackers heard across the border are now terrifying for them. One teacher said, “We are doing the best we can, but naturally the children are quieter, less active and less able to be engaged and creative. The wider community is so tired of the fighting, they just want to go home, and they don’t understand why the world isn’t paying attention”.
In the northern camps of Kachin state there is not a single other international organisation offering ongoing support to children. As the area remains an active war zone, access to the camps is difficult. Aid agencies sporadically operate in the central government controlled regions of Kachin State, but leave when the operating environment becomes too difficult.
We are appealing for financial support to both maintain and expand the work here, to meet the escalating need.
Please share about this situation where you can, to direct attention to a beleaguered and terrified group of civilians, who are in need of critical help yet currently forgotten by the international community.
Children on the Edge generate hope, life, colour and fun in the lives of some of the most vulnerable children across the world. Hope is a fundamental part of this because it enables people to know that things can be different. In turn, this is a catalyst for action within the communities where we work.
Living on the edges of society, surviving life in refugee camps and slums, enduring persecution or isolation are all situations that can breed despair and inertia. Sometimes when people see no evidence that things can change, they stop wasting energy believing their situation can be different. Rebecca Solnit describes hope as an axe, rather than a lottery ticket, and says ‘To hope is to give yourself a future, and that commitment to the future makes the present uninhabitable’.
In his 1930s ‘Treatise on Hope’, Ernst Bloch says that hope requires people to ‘throw themselves actively into what is becoming, to which they themselves belong’. To us, this speaks very strongly of the importance of hope in sparking community ownership, participation and action. Hope gets people on their feet and inspires them to become actively involved in creating change, instead of resigning themselves to the difficult circumstances they are living through.
We have seen this scenario many times in the situations we work, and it’s why generating hope is one of the core elements we focus on. We encourage it through our relational approach, and it is the key to community ownership in our projects. Here are two examples:
In Lebanon, when our partners started working with Syrian refugees in the informal settlements in Bekaa Valley, many people they met had given up.
Project Director Nuna Matar described how “Often groups of people would be sitting around doing very little, they didn’t see what they could do to change anything. Big organisations would come and count people rather than talk to them, leave resources that they didn’t need, like electric heaters when they have no electricity. Refugees want to be known as people, not numbers! This doesn’t build hope, they started to sit there powerlessly, wondering what would be dropped off next”.
When our partners started to talk to people about education for their children, some of the men said ‘Are you going to build us a school?’, so the team put the question back to them. ‘Are you going to build a school?’. After a long time of believing nothing could change, they had lost motivation, but the team here built relationships with them, encouraged them and worked alongside them.
The fathers became instrumental in the construction of schools, and later on even the building of a new refugee camp. The women are fully involved in the education programme, many being trained as teachers and instigating their own literacy classes. The children have been engaged in designing the camp, they especially liked helping out with building the play area! We are now supporting the education of 500 Syrian refugee children, whose aspirations are rising, as are those of their community.
One year ago in Uganda, when we visited Loco slum the people there said they had no hope. Unemployment and income poverty here has left households vulnerable and their children are prone to exploitation, malnutrition, physical and sexual abuse. The Chairman of our Child Protection Team (CPT) in Loco, said “People here have had many organisations come and start things and then go, promise things and then disappoint, they didn’t believe things could change”.
Using the CPT model means that work here is totally owned by the community. Babra is a social worker for COTE Africa, she describes how “ The community participate from the start. They identify the problems, they identify the solutions”.
Ten local people are trained up to work in their area as part of the CPT, to educate people about child protection and support them to create a protective environment. These people are volunteers, and all the work they do is out of dedication to their community. As the people they work with start to see that things can change, it encourages them to take more action.
A year on we have the full participation of local people, not only the CPT volunteers but also parents getting involved with education, mothers creating new businesses to pay for their children to go to school and local services engaging with the Loco community to create a better environment for children.
The Chairman now describes how “People see workshops, they see a team that deals with their problems, they see a drop in domestic violence and crime, they see their children on a playscheme and a new Early Childhood Development Centre being built, and it gives them hope. These things have never happened in Loco. Hope is knowing things can change”.
These are just two examples of how hope brings action in our work, but if you visited any one of our projects you would see the same values. Thank you for your support in generating hope and bringing change in the lives of children living on the edge.
Read our earlier blog: 'What do we mean when we talk about hope?'
When we say we bring hope, life, colour and fun to the lives of vulnerable children, it’s 'hope' that kicks off the list, and with good reason. Hope is the cornerstone of what we believe is vital for children living in desperate situations, because it’s all about change.
Hope could be seen as a fluffy, sentimental term; something to inspire a kind of 'sunshiny' feeling about helping children, but we think it’s the opposite.
Children that live in the situations where we are working don’t need something fluffy, they need something revolutionary. These are children facing war, persecution, poverty and injustice and in the current political climate, the need is not abating. Nationalism is on the rise, compassion is fatigued and barriers are growing.
In her book, ‘Hope in the Darkness’, Rebecca Solnit says that ‘Hope is an act of defiance… the alternative is surrender, which abandons not only the future, but the soul’. At present, our work with children living on the edges of their societies is more vital than ever, and it works in defiance of the status quo that marginalises children on the basis of their race, caste, class or ethnic minority.
In October an 65, 000 Rohingya refugees fled horrific human rights abuses in Myanmar, joining the masses of refugees already in Bangladesh, who have been fleeing government persecution for over a decade. It’s here we are providing education for 2,700 Rohingya children in a makeshift refugee camp.
Late last year, an 8 year old Dalit girl in Bihar State, India was beaten by a group of men when she dared to say that she could be a magistrate or the chief of police one day. It’s here that we are supporting education and non-violent activism to tackle ingrained caste discrimination and help ‘untouchable’ children realise their rights.
Currently, the practice of child sacrifice in Uganda is still going unreported and there are gaps in legislation enabling perpetrators to go free. It is here that we are working with a Ugandan child rights group, and the government to address the problem, whilst expanding our child protection teams in communities.
Hope is an act of defiance which often begins in the margins of society. Going forward we will highlight how it motivates action and inspires both rapid transformation and long term evolution.
Read our latest blog: 'How hope is a catalyst for action and ownership'