Recently our partners in India have organised a Summer Camp; a week full of games and activities for hundreds of Dalit children in Patna, who attend our Education Centres. As well as being a time for fun, the week was also designed to develop the skills and talents of the children and to build up their confidence and self esteem.
The Dalit people in India face ingrained caste discrimination, often excluding them from education and medical facilities. Despite the caste system being outlawed, it still causes severe persecution, restricting where Dalits can live and what jobs they can have.
The Centres we support provide education and have a strong focus on helping children understand their rights. The curriculum encourages them to realise these rights, and break out of the vicious cycle of discrimination and poverty.
Every child during Summer Camp was invited to participate in all the games and activities and each day, one of the youngest boys and girls from each Centre were selected to be the ‘Guest of Honour’. They were welcomed in the morning with the 'Summer Camp Cap' and were responsible for announcing the winners of each game.
Older children from each Centre were selected each day as leaders. Their role was to motivate the other children and inspire teamwork. Earning points for their Centre was a great motivating factor! All of the games and activities were chosen because they built group thinking and teamwork. The older children were also invited to give a small speech on the theme of working together.
Sister Veena who leads the Centres in Patna said “It was so interesting to see the coaching that the children gave to each other before starting each game. We wanted the whole week to be a joyful experience, but we also wanted to build confidence. We gave opportunities to as many children as possible. They will remember being a guest of honour or a leader in the class. This gives them dignity and improves their self esteem.”
Find out more about the work we support in India, and consider supporting the project by clicking on of the action buttons below.
Children on the Edge has enabled two internally displaced Kachin children to receive much needed cleft palate surgeries. The camps where the children live are completely cut off from the most basic services, so procedures of this kind are not available.
Children on the Edge supports 14 Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres throughout 12 Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) camps in the remote mountains of Kachin State, Burma. Where possible we also provide winter provisions for the children. We collaborated with Kachin Development Group (KDG) who we partner with to deliver the Centres, and Smile Train who provide cleft repair surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children in over 85 developing countries.
14 month old Le Thu Win was born in the IDP camp at Pajau. Her family have had to take shelter there since 2011, due to armed conflict between the Kachin Independence Army and the Burmese military. Le Thu Win is the third daughter of the family. Her eldest sister passed away soon after being born and now her elder sister is three years old and attending on of the ECD Centres we support.
Sadly when Le Thu Win was born, her father was not happy. With two elder girls, he was hoping for a boy, and after this point abandoned the family frequently, choosing to spend time with friends. She was born with a cleft palate which concerned her mother, especially as it created difficulty with breast feeding.
Le Thu Win and another young boy called Wai Myo Lin from a neighbouring camp were supported to take a 16 day round trip to Mandalar Hospital. Here, Smile Train provided treatment which went ahead smoothly and without complications. Longer term the surgery has proved very successful and since this point, both of them have been living happily with their families.
Bawk Hkun from the Kachin Development Group says “This is new experience for KDG. We consider this as a collaborative initiative between Children on the Edge, Smile Train and ourselves which proves as an example that the things we previously saw as impossible can be solved with collaboration and networking among agencies”.
Jenni Block is taking part in the Children on the Edge Chichester Half Marathon in October and she's decided to fundraise as part of our Run for Refugees Team, raising over £250 so far.
We interviewed Jenni, who only started running in January this year, about her training, how she's feeling about the race, and why she decided to support Children on the Edge.
What made you sign up to the Chichester Half Marathon?
I started running in January, having decided I needed to do something to improve my fitness. I had tried running in the past and hadn't enjoyed it but this time something stuck. My new found enjoyment for running led me to want to try running in an event and the Chichester Half Marathon, being local to me, was the logical choice.
Is this your first half marathon?
I haven't run a half marathon, or any formal race, before!
How is your training going? Are you following a plan?
I started using the couch to 5k running app, I am now moving on to an app called 13.one which sets up a training plan for you based around your race date, allowing me to build up strength and endurance to be in perfect shape for the race.
What’s the hardest part about training?
The hardest part is sometimes finding the motivation, I work in a physically demanding job and some days I don't want to go for a run when I get home; but the support from friends and family has encouraged me. With the recent heatwave it has been harder than ever because I want to wait until it's cooler which often means going out at 9pm at night, by which point I have wound down from the day and am not feeling up to going out!
What’s the best part about training?
Training has improved my health, not just physically, but mentally. I am sleeping better and feel better in myself, waking up with far more energy and in turn am eating better and walking with more confidence.
Had you heard of Children on the Edge before signing up to the race?
I had heard of them, through a friend at university, but didn't know a lot about the charity and its' work.
What made you decide to fundraise for Children on the Edge?
Reading more into the charity, and the great work they do, I felt that this was a deserving cause and I would turn a run that was initially selfishly about me into something better for those in need. It allowed my friends and family to show their support for me whilst boosting both the profile and funding for an under recognised charity and more vulnerable members of society.
What would you say to anyone who was thinking about raising money for Children on the Edge at the Chichester Half Marathon?
If you're running the race, use this opportunity to raise the profile of this great charity. There are children suffering the effects of political choices across the world, innocent and vulnerable young people being punished for the choices of others. Every penny raised helps create a new positive environment for these children.
How are you feeling about the race itself?
Honestly? I've never been more scared in my life. As someone who has spent the past few years living a relatively sedentary/inactive life, this is one of the biggest challenges I've ever set myself. I'm relying on the faith my friends and family have in me, plus the incentive of helping out such a great charity to push me on the day, across the finish line.
If you'd like to join Jenni and our fabulous team of Run for Refugees runners at the Chi Half this October, sign up here.
As we near the end of our first year of Loco’s Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centre in Uganda, we’re delighted to hear that Haileybury Youth Trust (HYT) who constructed the building to such a high standard last summer, has been awarded an Ashden International Award for Sustainable Buildings 2017.
Bourne Community College student wins prestigious Diana Award for Children on the Edge fundraising efforts
Local student, Megan McCulloch, aged 16, from Bourne Community College in Southbourne has been included on a prestigious list of winners as part of the 2017 Diana Awards’ Roll of Honour, to honour her fundraising efforts for Children on the Edge.
Megan was jointly nominated by Children on the Edge and the school for leading their Charity Committee to raise £1,471 throughout 2015-2016 with a range of different fundraising activities.
The Diana Awards are set up to celebrate and reward exceptional young people who embody Princess Diana’s qualities of kindness, compassion and service. To celebrate Princess Diana’s Birthday this 20th Anniversary year, the 2017 Roll of Honour, which included Megan's name, was announced over the weekend.
Megan said: “I cannot express how honoured I feel to have been given the opportunity to help those less fortunate than myself. It was a pleasure to lead a team of great students. I have been inspired and supported by an outstanding member of staff who guided me through my journey of fundraising and leadership - I am filled with joy at becoming a Diana Award winner!”
Fundraising Manager at Children on the Edge, Eloise Armstrong said: “Megan has been a fantastic ambassador for Children on the Edge within Bourne Community College. We have been impressed by her pro-active leadership; innovative fundraising ideas and her communication with our fundraising staff. As a small charity, the impact of Megan’s fundraising has been significant and timely, enabling us to provide ‘on the edge’ safe spaces and education for Syrian refugee children in Lebanon and Rohingya refugee children fleeing Burma and living in Bangladesh.”
Megan managed all aspects of the relationship between us and the school; arranging visits and presentations from the Children on the Edge staff team, coordinating the fundraising events, and delivering assemblies to share the impact of the total money raised.
Megan brought leadership and energy in her role as chair of Bourne Community College’s charity committee and committed time each week to bring together a team representing all year groups. She coordinated all year round fundraising which included a school-wide sports day featuring unique sports played in the countries where we work. As well as the Easter “Children on the Egg” challenge.
The money raised by Megan and the school can help provide education in an informal tented school in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon for eight Syrian refugee children for a whole year.
Children on the Edge rely completely on voluntary donations and receives no institutional or government funding for their programme in Lebanon, which makes this support all the more vital for the charity during the worsening refugee crisis in Syria.
Phil Harper, Student Voice Coordinator said: “I have loved seeing Megan grow in her leadership skills. She knew how to lead staff and students with enthusiasm and purpose. I now feel genuine pride at Megan's achievements and the young person she has become - courageous, resilient and compassionate.”
Head Teacher, Yvonne Watkins said: "All of us at Bourne Community College are delighted with the Diana Award for Megan. She has worked tirelessly as Chair of our Charity Group. She is an exceptional young student, embodying all the qualities of kindness, compassion and service that are reflected in the Diana Award. She has worked selflessly, always aiming to inspire and motivate other students and staff to raise awareness and money for those less fortunate than themselves. She truly deserves this wonderful Diana Award.”
Megan will collect her Award at a special Ceremony later this year.
The Diana Award was set up in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, and her belief that young people have the power to change the world for the better. It is committed to fostering, inspiring and developing positive change in the lives of young people through practical social action. Today The Diana Award has the support of both her sons The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
All the award winners – who come from every region in the UK and USA, Canada, UAE, India, Belize, Australia, Greece, Indonesia, Croatia, Liberia, Jersey, New Zealand, Indonesia and Liberia – have had a monumental impact on society and lives of those in their communities. Many of them only know Princess Diana as a historical figure but they carry the honour of the Diana Award with pride and admiration for whose memory it was set up in.
Would your school like to fundraise for Children on the Edge? Find out more here or contact our Fundraising Officer, Amy Rook.
Long-term Children on the Edge supporter and talented stage and screen actor, Jonathan Hyde has donated the proceeds of his recent art exhibition to our work, raising £2,600.
Famous for his roles in films such as 'Crimson Peak', 'Titanic', 'Jumanji' and 'The Mummy' amongst others, Jonathan has a talent for painting and urged colleagues and friends to purchase his artwork in a recent exhibition in aid of three chosen charities - Children on the Edge, Time is Precious and UK Friends of Healing.
We're delighted that Jonathan chose to support Children on the Edge with an exhibition again in 2017, having previously held an exhibition of his work for Children on the Edge in Chichester in 2012. His donation will make a huge positive difference to our work with vulnerable children around the world.
You can follow Jonathan on Facebook or view his website here
‘School is like their second home’ - Syrian refugee teachers sustain safe spaces for children existing in chaos
‘Without the schools, nobody in my family could read or write’ - How education is bringing hope to Rohingya refugees
Described by the UN as “one of the world’s most persecuted minorities”, the Rohingya people from Rakhine state, Burma have faced generations of horrific anti-Muslim violence and abuse from the Burma authorities. As a result, thousands flee over the border in the hope of finding refuge in Bangladesh.
With official UN camps in Bangladesh at capacity, arrivals since 2005 have been denied official refugee status. They are forced to settle in makeshift border camps, and any provision for unregistered refugees is prohibited by the Bangladesh authorities.
On the request of the Rohingya community in one of these makeshift camps, we have provided education for 2,700 Rohingya refugee children through a low-profile approach.
Ahmed is 10 years old and lives in the makeshift Kutapalong refugee camp with his parents and six brothers and sisters. He attends one of the schools run by Children on the Edge in the camp. His family are Rohingya, and faced constant persecution by the authorities in Burma. They fled to Bangladesh during a surge of violence towards their people group in 2012.
His father says “We had a simple but happy life in Burma. I worked as a farmer and sometimes a fisherman. We were not rich, but we had everything we needed. Then the Rakhine mobs came to my village. They burned down my neighbour’s house. I did not wait to meet them. I took my family and ran. I have never met my neighbour again. We walked for two days to cross the border. Some mosques gave us food and water along the way. After we crossed, we walked another half day to Kutupalong camp. That first day we arrived I began building our house. I knew we had no other place to go”.
Ahmed does not remember much about home, as he was just five years old when they fled, but he remembers being happy and playing with his friends in the grove of coconut trees near his house, taking turns climbing the trees.
“All I really know is life in the camp. I get up at 5.00, finish my school homework and eat, go to the madrassa and then collect firewood if I can find any. Then I go to class. This is the best part of my day. I am lucky to learn, it gives me something to do each day. My favourite subject is English, but I can read and do maths, even my older brother can’t do this! If there is a newspaper I help my family understand what it says. I feel very proud to help them”.
To reach the most households in the camp, Children on the Edge gives a place to one child from each household, then each student will share as much of their learning as they can with their family and friends. Ahmed’s father says “Ahmed is a smart boy and works very hard. Without education, he will just be a labourer like me. I believe he can do anything he wants if he studies hard. Without the schools, nobody in my family could read or write. I am very thankful that I have one child who can do this. Maybe they can all find a better jobs than me because they can learn. He brings his books home and shares them with his brothers and sisters, so I am hopeful he can teach the other children. Now I am too old to learn these things, but they still can learn. Also, people in the community know they can ask my son to read or write something if they need. That makes me proud”.
Ahmed’s father tries to provide for the family by working as a daily labourer outside the camp. He does jobs that locals don’t want to do, but says that work is not always available and they are paid a pittance. Locals are unfriendly and he is often grabbed by the police who take any money he has earned.
Ahmed never leaves the camp, and feels sorry for his friends that can’t attend the school. “They have nowhere to go, and they can’t read like me. I try to teach them, but it is not easy. If I couldn’t attend the schools I would be sad”.
Ahmed feels that his future will be different because of the things he has learnt at the schools, he says “I know I can find a job because I can read, write, and do maths. And I know if I work very hard and learn many languages I can someday be a doctor in another country. Then I will take care of all my family. I love seeing my teachers, who are very smart, being with my friends and having books”.
His teacher says “We hope that one day the children will replace us to teach in the community and also in the world. That they will be able to keep the name of the Rohingya known in the world. If this doesn’t happen then we will disappear. We need them to ensure the education goes down each generation.”
Find out more about the project and consider supporting our work by clicking one of the buttons below.
Across the world, over 65 million people have been forced from their homes as a result of war, persecution and poverty. This crisis dominates our media, but whilst much of the discussion is around the problems of migration in Europe, the vast majority of refugees flee to neighbouring countries.
The Refugee Council describes how “It’s poor countries, not rich, western countries, who look after the vast majority of the world’s refugees” and state how The UN’s Refugee Agency have estimated that nearly nine in ten of the world’s refugees are sheltered by developing countries.
Children on the Edge exists to help those children who are the most vulnerable; those living on the edge of their societies and forgotten by the media and international community. This is why we invest our support for those refugees that are trapped in border camps, often unregistered and denied even the most basic services. Below are a few examples of the refugee groups we work with and some detail about why supporting them is crucial.
Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh
Described by the UN as “one of the world’s most persecuted minorities”, the Rohingya people from Rakhine state, Burma have faced generations of horrific anti-Muslim violence and abuse from the Burma authorities. As a result, over the years, and with an additional surge of violence last October, according to the Bangladesh government, there are now an estimated 300,000 - 500,000 Rohingya people dwelling in Bangladesh.
With official UN camps in Bangladesh at capacity, thousands are denied official refugee status. They are forced to settle in makeshift border camps, and any provision for unregistered refugees is prohibited by the Bangladesh authorities.
On the request of the Rohingya community in one of these makeshift camps, we have provided education for 2,700 Rohingya refugee children through a low-profile approach. 45 small classrooms, dispersed throughout the camp, with basic learning materials have been built out of mud either within or alongside existing dwellings. Rohingya teachers have been trained from within the camps and the children learn with a child-friendly curriculum, that focusses on creativity and fostering self worth.
Syrian refugees in Lebanon
The years of conflict in Syria have created one of the most devastating humanitarian disasters of this generation. As the crisis enters its sixth year, the United Nations has reported that 13.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. There are 4.8 million refugees and over 6.6 million have been internally displaced.
Much of the media attention regarding Syrian refugees is focussed on their migration to Europe, but the vast majority of people seeking refuge remain in border countries. Over 1.5 million have ended up in Lebanon which, with a population of just 4 million themselves, have the highest per capita concentration of refugees in the world. The most vulnerable do not have the capacity to travel further than the borders, and the refugee community we have spoken with here have only expressed a desire to return home.
The Lebanese government have been been struggling to accommodate this flood of new arrivals. Despite a national and international focus on providing education for refugees, the Ministry of Education’s ‘Back to School’ programme has a number of problems, resulting in insurmountable barriers for many refugee children in the Bekaa Valley settlements where we work.
Consequently, through a number of informal tent schools, we are providing education for 500 Syrian refugee children. Syrian refugees are trained as teachers, using a child friendly Montessori curriculum that is taught in the Syrian dialect.
Internally displaced Kachin people in Burma
Since June 2011 the central government in Burma 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, forcing them to flee yet again.
We have been working for a number of years in high-altitude, internally displaced people's (IDP) camps, providing education for 629 displaced Kachin children, in 14 Early Childhood Development Centres. We are the only international organisation providing ongoing support for young children in these remote camps. The Centres are safe spaces which provide children with 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.
Children on the Edge go where the need is greatest. Our programmes give refugee children like these a safe environment where they are protected and ensure that their rights are realised. Click the buttons below to receive updates about these projects or donate to this vital work. Thank you.
The pupils, parents and staff at Shellingford CE Primary School in Oxfordshire have been raising money for our work with Syrian refugee children in Lebanon since September 2016 as part of a whole school year of fundraising. So far they have raised an enormous £4871.13!
We visited the school in September 2016 and spoke to the staff and students about our project in Lebanon, providing education for 500 Syrian refugee children through our tented schools in Bekaa Valley. We spoke to the young students about what it was like to be a refugee and tried to get them to think about what life might be like for a Syrian refugee family who had to flee their home because of the ongoing conflict. The children were asked to think about what items they might take to help ensure their survival; things like like blankets, passports, money, a torch, first aid kit and a mobile phone.
This visit from Children on the Edge in September kicked off Shellingfords' fundraising for the year ahead. But teacher, Alex Drew was behind all the schools' fundraising activities. His family foundation set up in memory of his father (the Simon Drew Foundation) kindly provide financial support for our work in Lebanon, and he was keen for the school to get behind Children on the Edge too. Alex has led the schools fundraising which included a 'Self-Portrait' project, 'The Ultimate Sport Challenge' and a community picnic.
For the first of their activities, the 'Shellingford Self-Portrait Project', the children drew pictures of themselves which parents were able to order as keychains, framed portraits of fridge magnets, with all proceeds coming to Children on the Edge.
In February, staff and pupils took part in a series of sponsored sports activities called 'The Ultimate Sports Challenge'. The activities were linked to what Syrian refugees might have experience on their journey from their war-torn homes to refugee camps in Lebanon. Every child and teacher was asked to raise money with a specially created sponsorship form.
Tuesday: The Run
The whole school, including all the adults tried to run as many laps as possible in the school grounds, with 15 laps equalling 1 mile. The whole school ran an incredible 328 miles which they worked out as being as far as Shellingford to Paris, or the same distance from Aleppo, Syria to the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Thursday: The Hike
Pupils took part in a hike in the local area. On the day each pupil brought a backpack with essentials they might need on a long journey. The children had been learning about refugees and thinking about what families and children might need to take with them to survive if they had to leave their homes in hurry, not knowing if they would come back. Despite storm Doris stopping them walking through the woods, they were able to walk through a mile long field and the village.
Friday: The Scramble
On Friday, the school organised a challenging obstacle in the playing fields. The obstacles were designed to be similar to what a refugee child might have endured when travelling across an unknown landscape. There were water and mud features and everyone got really stuck in.
Sunday: The Climb
For staff and families who were able to, the school finished their 'Ultimate Sports Challenge' with a climb up nearby White Horse Hill. The climb was related to a refugee's journey to hopeful safety.
Together, the Sports Challenge and Self-Portrait project raised an incredible £2546.52!
The schools' summer fundraising activity involved a community picnic which took place on Friday 26th May. Local residents were invited to join staff and pupils on a gloriously sunny lunchtime. The picnic raised another £127 to add to their total.
The parents at Shellingford Primary School have also been doing an incredible job of raising money through the 'Friends of Shellingford Primary School'. Their Spring Ball on the 20th May raised an amazing £806.50.
We were particularly touched to hear about year 5 pupil, Samantha's fundraising efforts. She independently organised for her family to make donations for chores completed at home. She raised a very impressive £43.90 with her hard work.
The money raised by Shellingford Primary School will go such a long way to help support our work with Syrian refugee children in Lebanon.
Over the past 3 years Children on the Edge have been working in partnership with Lebanese NGO - Mercy Foundation within the refugee communities in the Bekaa Valley, providing quality, child friendly education for refugee children who are unable to access government or UN school provision.
These tent schools, in addition to a school based out of a Community Centre in Beirut, currently provide education for 500 children aged 6 -12. They are safe places with a trusted adult presence. Where other projects of this kind bring in teachers from the outside, this model raises up teachers from within the Syrian refugee community.
Could your school fundraise to support Children on the Edge? Find out more and Download our Schools Pack or contact Amy Rook, our Fundraising Officer: firstname.lastname@example.org