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'
On Saturday 4th March, one of our wonderful fundraisers from the Body Shop At Home, Sophie Fletcher organised a Charity Ball in Lincoln raising £2700 for Children on the Edge.
240 people turned up to Sophie’s Ball at Jocasta’s in Lincoln and enjoyed an evening of music, games and dancing; with a magician thrown in for good measure! Guests also heard from our Grants Officer, Sarah, who spoke about how their money makes such a big difference in Uganda; where we are working to bring hope, life, colour and fun to slum communities near Jinja.
Sophie was inspired to raise money for Children on the Edge after hearing about us as a consultant with the Body Shop At Home. She says from day one, she learned about the “amazing work of Children on the Edge” and how we help to support vulnerable children through our projects around the world.
As part of the Body Shop at Home, Sophie got stuck in with fundraising, not only on her own, but as part of her regional team. In 2015, she joined us on our annual Playscheme to Uganda; where she saw first hand how our work is helping to transform slum communities. It was this trip that inspired Sophie to organise the Lincoln Charity Ball.
Sophie said: "I have supported Children on the Edge for around three years and last year won a place to volunteer on the play scheme in Uganda because of my previous fundraising and passion for the work the charity does. It was the most incredible experience of my life and really opened my eyes to the difference we can make to other people's lives. Having seen the work in Uganda, and the difference it makes, I was determined to up my fundraising to a new level, which is where the ball came into play!"
Response to the event was hugely positive with ticket sales excelling Sophie's expectations. Local companies including NS Plumbing, Streets Accounts, Dack Motor Group and Home Property Lawyers all came on board as sponsors.
The money raised from Sophie’s Charity Ball is enough to cover the costs of sending 20 children to school for a whole year at our Early Childhood Development Centre in Loco, Uganda.
When asked what she’d say to someone else thinking about fundraising for Children on the Edge, Sophie said:
“DO IT! Just go for it, there are millions of ideas and things out there that can be used as fundraisers so find something you're good at or something you enjoy, and make it work for a good cause. Never be disheartened because any funds raised are more than COTE would have had if you didn't take on the challenge”.
If you'd like to organise a fundraising event for Children on the Edge, please contact Amy, our Fundraising Officer on 01243 538530.
Since the success of our pilot education loans in Masese II, the Child Protection Teams we support in Uganda have been introducing the scheme into three new areas; Loco, Masese I and Masese III.
Just £20 can provide a small business loan for a struggling household in Uganda.
In each area, the most needy households are identified and invited to attend a series of training workshops. These include savings workshops, small business training sessions and opportunities to form self help groups.
The saving workshops have been newly introduced as the new area’s needs are so great. The workshops introduce the benefits of saving and give hints and tips on how to put money aside, even through times of financial stress. Each person attending has a trial period of demonstrating they can save money and budget, before they are given their first loan.
Small business training workshops give prospective owners the chance to learn about the principles of a successful business and how to use their new income in the best way in order to grown their trade further.
The self help groups are facilitated to allow people to work together, support each other and develop funds to help in difficult times. They all contribute to a health fund which protects members in times of sickness, and also a social fund which supports members in other potential troubles (like the loss of a relative). Over time, members re-pay the money lent to them so the fund is available for the next person.
The new communities have 20 loans currently running in each area. Each loan is worth about £20, has sparked a new business and changed the lives of each household. Many and various businesses are blossoming throughout each community including mat making, silver fish selling, cooking, charcoal selling, fruit and vegetable stalls and hut renovation.
Babra is our social worker at Children on the Edge Africa, she says “These loans can give people a new start. One lady had been trapped in prostitution for a long time. I talked with her regularly for over a year about how the loan scheme could help her start an new life, but she was reluctant. She didn’t believe she could do it, but she was so unhappy. This year she started out on the scheme. Already she has a successful business selling ground nuts and plastering people’s homes! She is free and is now able to send her three children to school. When she sees me, she throws her arms around me with happiness.”
This number of loans given in Masese III will double soon as many of the Karamajong people that live here have a natural talent for business and are responding particularly well to the scheme. This is especially good news here, as the community had become reliant on a charitable organisation that gave food handouts, when the charity left, people here had no income or means of feeding their children. The education loans are now giving them sustainable means to earn, feed their children and send them to school. Masese II is still running the education loan scheme and currently have 46 households starting up businesses.
It costs just £20 to provide a small business loan for a struggling household. The slideshow below shows some of the different businesses these loans have made possible. If you would like to donate £20 to start a new business and enable children to go to school, just click the button below.
‘I like helping other women to change their lives. I am what I am today because I was also helped by someone.’ - Ten questions for Nandawula Babra on how to #BeBoldForChange
Each year on the 8th of March, International Women’s Day encourages us all to forge a more gender inclusive, better working world.
Children on the Edge works with local partners to restore the ingredients of a full childhood to some of the most vulnerable children worldwide. A big part of this is working towards equality in opportunities and an end to discrimination for the women and girls we work with.
The theme for the 2017 International Women's Day is #BeBoldForChange and we are privileged to be partnering with a number of truly inspirational women, who use boldness and strength to bring about change for women and girls in their communities.
Nandawula Babra is a social worker at Children on the Edge Africa, in Jinja, Uganda. She grew up in the slums here, and has been a social worker for 15 years. She is now responsible for the development, support and facilitation of the Child Protection Teams that work across four slum areas surrounding the main town.
The Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centre we support in Loco, Uganda has been running for a few terms and the children have settled in well. Looking to the future for the current class, the team here facilitated a training day which focussed on ensuring the children’s smooth integration into government primary school.
The day consisted of training for both the teachers at the Centre and the teachers from the neighbouring primary school with which they are partnered. They worked together, looking at strategies for increasing retention and enrolment and effectively preparing young ones for the transition to primary.
Programme Director Edwin Wanabe said “We are giving the children a foundation so they are ready to integrate. The teachers at the ECD Centre are being trained in the primary curriculum so they have the knowledge to manage this transition and ensure the continuing education of the children when they finish their time at the Centre”.
Over the first few terms the ECD teachers have worked to identify which language is most commonly used amongst the new intake. After establishing that the main language used by the children in Loco is Lasuga, they spent some time throughout the day translating all the lessons into this language. They prepared staff in both the Centre and the primary school to be able to teach in this language for the majority of lessons and activities.
Finally, they all worked on creating educational resources out of local materials like sticks, stones and boxes. Using these materials is a low cost and sustainable way of creating a stock of colourful, child friendly resources for the next few terms.
A school management committee, overseen by Doreen from Children on the Edge Africa has been established to focus on the continuing partnership and integration between the ECD Centre and the primary school.
Find out more about the work in Uganda and consider a donation to the project.
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A fun packed celebration day has recently been held at the Early Childhood Development Centre we support in Loco, Uganda. The day was focussed on showing all the parents just how far the children have come in this short time. It gave the children a chance to show off their talents, but also gave the staff the opportunity to deliver some valuable training on positive parenting.
The children enjoyed performing dances, reciting poems and rhymes and singing songs, all of which they have learnt during their time at the Centre. Once this was done, they enjoyed some fun activities while the staff delivered parenting sessions together with the local Child and Family Protection Officer.
This event was the first of its kind in the community and a great way for the team to begin to assess their impact. Parents engaged well and developed a thorough understanding of their roles and responsibilities in ensuring their children get the most out of attending the Centre.
Going on from here the parents will be fully participating in looking after the school. They will be helping with sports days, music events and festivals in the weeks and months to come. At the end of every year, parent and teachers will meet together to plan targets and assessments for the following year.
Programme Director, Edwin Wanabe said ‘It is vital that all the parents have ownership of the Centre right from the start. This is not our project, it is theirs, and it is them that will make sure that their children enjoy their education to the full. The parents were amazed at the talent they could see in their children, this inspires them to give their time and commitment to the Centre’.
Find out more about the work in Uganda and consider a donation to the project.
Grace and Norah are twin sisters, aged four, born prematurely to a single mother in Loco slum, Uganda
Loco is a small village near Jinja, Uganda, formed of barrack blocks that were formally owned by the railway corporation for their workers. The area has poor sanitation with latrines overflowing into the streets. Income poverty has left children prone to exploitation, malnutrition, physical and sexual abuse and a high likelihood of ending up living on the streets.
There is one primary school, but parents and carers cannot afford the fees. When we spoke to Grace and Norah’s mother a year ago, there was no hope of education or support for her children. She said she had given up on life. She is HIV positive, and the girl’s father left when he saw they were twins. Never having had twins in his family, he believed that they couldn’t be his and abandoned them for another woman. After giving birth Grace and Norah’s mother was bed ridden for some time and had no one to help. She also developed a skin rash, which later prevented her from getting a job as people believed it might be contagious.
Through our local Child Protection Team, Children on the Edge have supported the building of a new Early Childhood Development Centre, designed to provide early years education in a safe, child friendly environment for the most vulnerable young children in Loco. Grace and Norah were among the first children to enrol.
Despite being twins, these girls could not be more different. At the start of term Grace was very shy, and preferred to spend time alone rather than playing with friends. She would cry every time her mother said it was time for school. Teachers at the centre worked closely with her mother and helped her encourage Grace. They focussed on allowing her to learn at her own pace. When the uniforms were given out they were sure to give Grace hers first to make her feel special. Soon after Grace began to enjoy time with friends and to learn at an rapid rate. She loves school so much now that she wakes early each morning to remind her mother to get ready!
Norah settled in much faster than Grace as she is naturally bubbly and outgoing. She had never been given any guidelines on how to interact with others, so her confidence had a tendency to run overboard. This resulted in many occasions of Norah threatening her classmates, fighting her sister and friends, hiding other children’s shoes in the grass or taking their lunch if she finished hers first!
Noticing how different she was from her sister, the teachers let her learn in a way that was suited to her personality. They engaged her interest and curiosity, channeling all that energy into learning and exploring new subjects. This was a turning point for Norah who now listens attentively to the teachers and treats her friends and her sister kindly.
Grace and Norah’s mother says “At home the girls no longer fight but watch over each other when playing. It’s amazing to see such change in the short time since they were registered at the school. Seeing this change in my girls makes me certain that the future for Loco children is bright since the Centre settled at the heart of the village”.
Find out more about the project in Uganda and please consider either a one off donation or providing longer term support by becoming one of our monthly supporters.
On Friday 3rd February and Saturday 4th February we will be away at The Body Shop at Home conference, raising more than £10,000 for Children on the Edge, by selling raffle tickets and goody bags.
We’re looking for two more willing volunteers to join our team to help us over the weekend. Can you help? Or do you know someone who can?
You'd be joining Ben and Eloise, plus others from our head office for a fun-packed couple of days on the team trip to Telford, in the Midlands. On Friday 3rd February we leave Chichester around 9am and travel to Telford to set up our stand at the conference centre. Saturday will be a busy day, and volunteers will help us to sell raffle tickets run our stall selling goody bags to The Body Shop’s consultants.
We'll show you everything you need to know; you just need to have lots of enthusiasm and a friendly attitude!
It's a great event, with a brilliant buzz as we get to meet more than 1,000 Body Shop consultants who love Children on the Edge.
Your help will ensure we maximise this incredible opportunity to raise as much money as we can. With enough help, the weekend should raise more than £10 000, which is enough to cover the costs running our Early Childhood Development Centre (ECD) in Loco, Uganda for a whole year.
What you need to know
If you are interested, or would like to find out more, please call Eloise, our Fundraising Manager on 01243 538530 or email email@example.com.
We started out our work in Uganda supporting a pilot Child Protection Team project in Masese II slum (known as Soweto). After 5 years the Masese II Child Protection Team (CPT) has genuinely transformed a community and is still going strong.
These ten volunteers have toppled illegal breweries and created alternative, positive livelihoods to get children to school, they have eradicated the occurrences of child sacrifice, they have instigated community action on sanitation and hygiene to create a clean and cared for area. They have also reduced domestic violence, substance misuse and child abuse.
The team are now independent, with only occasional input and encouragement needed from Children on the Edge staff. Not only this but they are sharing their experiences as we scale up this work into the wider district.
Babra, a social worker at Children on the Edge Africa says “I am proud of the CPT in Masese II, they do all the work with very little resources, they get on all by themselves, they refer cases and do follow ups themselves, they even do their own fundraising. They work so well even though they are not paid because it is from their hearts that they want to change the community. It’s like having a child and seeing them develop. I pray that the new communities will be the same. We can’t go in as Children on the Edge and change the whole community, but we can work with local people to change their own community”.
To help ensure that the new teams do just this, they meet regularly with the original team to learn from their experiences, share stories and develop ideas. Programme Director Edwin says “This helps them understand they are not alone in the fight against child abuse”.
In time, we are planning to scale up this tried and tested model across Uganda to help vulnerable communities create protective environments for their children. The team has been greatly effective in eradicating cases of child sacrifice, but sadly success in one community usually means the perpetrators move on to other vulnerable areas to prey on their children.
Identifying areas that are particularly vulnerable to child sacrifice, the team have written up the CPT model to enable new communities to benefit from 5 years of learning when forming their own CPTs.
Alongside the scaling up of the CPT model at grassroots level, there is need for effective national legislation where perpetrators are brought to justice. The two approaches work hand in hand. Children on the Edge are currently working with the Ugandan Children’s Rights NGO Network (UCRNN) to support the passing of a specific Bill addressing child sacrifice and current gaps in legislation.
With a change in the law and the corresponding scaling up of child protection at community level. It is hoped that this practice will be tackled head on and communities will be resourced to create safer environments for their children.
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Put the kettle on and read the full story of our Child Protection Team model
Sell our Season of Hope Christmas paper, or give to our Season of Hope appeal - all proceeds go to our work.