The Good Guys: SpinningTop comedy shows raise a fantastic £6,411 for our work with Rohingya refugees
SpinningTop is a charity based in Wellington, New Zealand, which originally grew out of Children on the Edge UK. While they are no longer called ‘Children on the Edge NZ’, they still adhere to the same vision to ‘help forgotten children living on the edge of their societies across the globe’. In their case, they aim to “give balance to vulnerable children”.
Over the past year, the charity has raised £6,411 for our work with the Rohingya, and are currently looking at how they might be able to partner with us in the future to make even more impact. Until this year they have worked predominantly either side of the Thai/Burma border with a couple of small projects in Shan State and another in Samoa.
After the escalation of the Rohingya refugee crisis in August 2017, they decided they wanted to do something for Rohingya refugee children in Bangladesh. So they approached Children on the Edge about a one-off donation to help with our education work in the camps.
They raised these funds primarily through their well established comedy show, called ‘The Good Guys’. This has been running annually for the past eleven years as part of the New Zealand International Comedy Festival and features an all-star line-up of comedians who donate a set, with all proceeds going to SpinningTop.
“This is my favourite gig of the year,” says comedian Michele A’Court. “A bunch of comedy mates getting together to turn jokes into something actually useful.”
SpinningTop Manager Annie Fischer says she is humbled year after year that such a star-studded line-up agree to be part of their show. “Instead of taking a much-needed break between their own festival shows, these incredibly generous comedians donate their time and talent for this special event.”
SpinningTop are the charity of choice for The Body Shop New Zealand - who cover their wages and provide them with an office. Because of this, 100% of the money they fundraise goes directly to the projects they support.
Rachel Bentley, International Director at Children on the Edge says “We’re very pleased to reconnect with SpinningTop since the days of working together on the Thai-Burma border. Both organisations were sparked into being by the same vision from Anita Roddick, to focus on those children who are the most vulnerable, and we’re looking forward to seeing what can be achieved in the future”.
Find out more the history of SpinningTop and Children on the Edge
Read about our work with Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
In the last few days Storm Norma has hit Lebanon with heavy rains, snowfall and freezing temperatures, leaving an estimated 70,000 refugees in need of emergency assistance.
Lebanon hosts over 1.5 million Syrian refugees, many of whom live in informal settlements with little to no infrastructure, as official refugee camps are not permitted. This makes these kinds of crises difficult to address, and UNHCR’s Interagency Coordination group report that 361 informal settlements and 11,301 refugees have been impacted by the storm so far. Unfortunately, the body of an 8 year old girl reported missing on Wednesday 10th January was recovered the day after. She had drowned after slipping into a rainwater channel.
For over four years, Children on the Edge have been supporting a small Lebanese organisation called Triumphant Mercy, to provide education for 500 Syrian refugee children, living in informal settlements the Bekaa Valley. They are also instrumental in providing additional support, care and supplies for the children and families living in these camps.
When the areas they work in were hit by the storms this week, this dedicated local group responded immediately, and Children on the Edge are urgently appealing for donations to assist them in rebuilding shelters.
Project leader Nuna Matar says, "All the refugees who are living under tents, or who are living in unfinished buildings were really severely hit by this storm...some of the tents are like shacks, so the winter snow is heavy on the roof, and some of them had their roofs collapse on them, so they had to find refuge in neighbouring tents and they had to rebuild, again”.
Many families have had mattresses, bedding, clothing and food destroyed and some tents are completely underwater. Children on the Edge are currently raising funds to pay for wood and plastic to help with rebuilding.
Nuna and her team are visiting the camps to provide help, but they struggle to get across the mountains from Beirut because of the heavy snow. Another storm is expected next week and they urgently need support to help affected families. 315 sites in the Bekaa area alone are at risk of further flooding and/or the accumulation of snow.
Nuna says, “There’s just not enough food, clothing, and shelter. Getting donor support for Lebanon has been challenging because the Syrian refugee crisis has fallen off the front page.”
You can support the appeal by visiting http://bit.ly/lebanonstorm
Less than two months away from the opening date of our new Early Childhood Development Centre in Wandago, Uganda, we look at how we developed a model for best practice and why we’re ready to replicate.
The model we have created together with Children on the Edge Africa in Loco Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centre, has been developed in partnership with Madrasa ECD Programme, who have over 25 years of experience in developing an approach that makes a real difference in children’s cognitive development and later success in school.
In conjunction with our own 28 years of experience working with vulnerable children and the use of our Child Protection Team model, this approach has produced a successful blueprint of best practice ECD, that is ready to replicate to new and different areas.
Supporting around 70 children aged 3-6 a year, the Centre is currently being considered for designation as a centre for excellence in the Eastern Region.
1. Community ownership
Loco Child Protection Team (CPT) work to identify the most vulnerable households, ensuring their children benefit from education. They encourage local families on the importance of education through a number of events (see photos above), meetings and celebrations, provide small business loans and support parents throughout the term, ensuring high retention rates.
2. Local culture
Teachers work to establish which language is most commonly used amongst Centre intake and adapt materials accordingly. They draw upon available local resources through all areas of teaching and learning, and focus on the strengths of local culture and values.
3. Quality child friendly curriculum
We use the Ugandan ECD Framework which was developed in consultation with UNICEF and Madrasa, which is a detailed curriculum of five core areas and an assessment framework to ensure children are learning and developing. Instead of rote learning, a regular day at the Centre will feature songs, dances, craft and games.
4. Health and socialisation
The Centre helps children to deal with routines, develop great friendships and improve behaviour so they can transition well to primary school. Regular health checks pick up concerns including malnutrition, which is addressed by the provision of high calorie porridge and nutritious snacks. Children arrive clean and washed and teachers focus on health and hygiene with songs, rhymes and regular hand washing routines.
It has resulted in improved:
1. Educational progress
We have seen core skills and learning improve significantly, with primary school teachers reporting that where young children previously started at primary school with no reading or writing knowledge and no means of coping within a classroom environment, now they arrive prepared to learn at the right level.
2. Valuing of education
The relationship between the teachers and the Loco CPT has yielded tremendous results in terms of attendance, with regular meetings encouraging parents on the importance of their children’s education.
3. Child Protection
Child Protection Teams have been key in ensuring that child protection cases are followed up, bridging the gap between the Centre and the parents. They follow up on cases identified by the teachers and often make home visits to ensure children are safe.
4. Health and Socialisation
After a few months of being at the Centre, children were visibly clean and healthy, despite being on the edge of malnutrition when they started. The external evaluation also identified huge progress with the socialisation of the children, with a teacher reporting that “Children’s discipline has changed. The way our children behave is not the way other children in the community who don’t access ECD or who attend other ECD Centres behave”.
We are hopeful that over time, this model Centre will become a training centre where Congolese teachers from this area can come to learn and develop their teaching skills, and improve the quality of early childhood education for refugee children across the region.
1. Schools are full of life
Rachel says, "We’ve been supporting nine Community schools for slum dwelling children in Cox’s Bazar for eight years now, and they are the best I’ve ever seen them. The children are absolutely full of life and energy".
Catering for over 900 children in the slums of Cox’s Bazar, these schools have become model learning environments which have shaped our work an hour down the road in the Kutupalong camp, which leads us nicely to the next highlight…
2. Colourful classrooms
“The 150 classrooms we run in Kutupalong camp for Rohingya refugee children are now fully up and running, and extremely vibrant, colourful and creative. Children that have been through such trauma need a safe and happy place to come, where they are free to express themselves. This is certainly evident in these spaces that are filled top to toe with their artwork. After what they have witnessed and what they are going through, these children lack the confidence of their counterparts in Cox’s Bazar, but we know that this model works to bring about a sense of safety and well-being as time goes by and the teachers are well trained to make learning fun and to address trauma.”
3. Oasis areas in the camp
"Not only are the classrooms colourful on the inside, but the shrubs and flowers that were planted when we began building in May are now growing and blooming. The idea is that we create an oasis feel in the barren, cramped landscapes of the camp. There isn’t much room to do this, but we’ve used the space we have to help the children feel they are entering a whole new environment, that is just for them”.
4. Schools on a shoestring
“In India what struck me was how much we are in the right place, supporting Navjeevan in their work. They’re currently providing 20 schools on a shoe string in some of the most awful slums I’ve seen. These areas are worse than Kutupalong, yet they get no media attention or support. Despite the continual oppression Dalit children live under, they are clean, happy and confident at the Centres and learning well, this is an incredible achievement when you see where they live each day”.
5. Computer classes
“Our partners here in India, thanks to the generous support of our donors, have begun IT classes for children and young people in the slums. These have been incredibly popular and are already resulting in young people being able to get jobs they would never have been able to without developing these skills”.
There were some fantastic entries, with the five best-looking cakes shortlisted for tasting in order to determine the winner. The crown of Make It Cheaper’s Best Baker eventually went to Kelly – a cake Manon said she could eat all day! The Bake Off raised £400 for Children on the Edge and significantly added to the waistlines of all the staff as well.
Manon was delighted to help support the Bake Off saying: "I didn't think twice when I was asked to join and donate one of my cakes to help Children on the Edge! I didn't do that much, but I hope with this extra money raised, it will make a little difference to some children in need and give them a brighter future!"
Make it Cheaper have supported Children on the Edge since 2017 and are always looking for new and exciting ways to get our staff involved with fundraising. Having held bake sales, karaoke nights, raffles and even completed a Tough Mudder, they have raised more than £38,000 in the past 18 months.
Dan O’Sullivan from Make it Cheaper helps cheer on and organise their fundraising and shared how “The chance to support a charity that does such vital work with vulnerable children across the world is one that we relish – especially with two members of staff having visited Uganda to witness first-hand the impact of COTE’s projects”.
If you could support Children on the Edge at your workplace we would love to hear from you, email our team at email@example.com.
Help a refugee child learn and play
Our generous friends at Montezuma’s have donated bars of their beautiful chocolate so that you can give two gifts in one. For a donation of £5 or more, you a will receive a Children on the Edge gift card packaged with a delicious 100g bar of Montezuma’s Chocolate*.
When you buy this charity gift to give away, you can help provide education for child in a refugee camp, helping them have a safe space to learn and play. Perfect for a stocking filler or a secret santa gift.
Last month Human Rights Watch published a report identifying how, despite the messages being put out about a welcome back, residents are being blocked from returning because of the destruction of their property and rights.
Their Middle East Director Lama Fakih said that “Russia and Syria are calling on people to return to attract reconstruction funding, but as always with the Syrian government, reality is much different. In demolishing their homes and restricting access to their property, the Syrian government is signalling that despite official rhetoric inviting Syrians ‘home,’ they do not want refugees or displaced persons back.”
Nuna Matar leads the work we support for Syrian refugee children in Lebanon. She says, “The welcome home is not rhetoric, there have been some genuine changes in policy and they are making it as easy as possible for Syrians to return, but the destruction of people’s homes is a real issue”.
Nuna describes how the Lebanese government have removed a number of fees and taxes and provided free buses and luggage allowance across the border. The Syrian government are also encouraging large scale return, as they have no young men left to rebuild or work.
Whereas in the past if an individual returned they would be put in jail and then sent to the army; at present the government will at least give a returning young man six months to set up their home and settle their family.
She says “There are around 500 people returning each day, which sounds like a lot but when you think there’s over a million refugees in Lebanon, it’s a slow return. There are a few people we know that have gone back, but not many yet”.
We have been supporting Nuna’s organisation for the last four years to provide education for around 500 Syrian refugee children in the Bekaa Valley. As the situation evolves, the team are looking to prepare the children for different eventualities.
A major part of this is centralising the three tent schools we currently support in three different refugee camps into one brand new school building (see image above). This will have room to educate around 350 children, with space for an office and a lot of room outside to play.
This new school set up will not only provide better facilities, but will enable children to become accustomed to a larger, more structured learning environment, to prepare them for entry into mainstream school if they return to Syria.
Making visits across the border and into Syria, Nuna has observed the desecration of the villages that people are being expected to return to. “Their homes are completely destroyed, there are no jobs, no people, no services, so although they are being encouraged to return, it is more complicated than that”.
After providing ongoing support for displaced people within Syria, our partners now have a number of different plans to help those returning to the country, the first of which will be the opening of a Community Centre in the suburbs of Damascus in December. They are also looking at establishing a series of ‘safe parks’ for children in Syria.
Nuna says “Children are not used to playing in Syria and everyone is depressed. They are often neglected and don’t often play at home”. Consequently the parks will not only be colourful spaces with play equipment, but will be used to deliver quality psychosocial support programmes.
Over 90% of our small business loan recipients in Uganda now feed their children better and send them to school
Education loans are small business loans given via the CPTs to the most vulnerable households, enabling them to create a source of income which covers the costs of providing for their children and sending them to school.
After the most needy households are identified, people are invited to attend a series of training workshops, which include a focus on saving, small business training and opportunities to form self help groups.
These ‘education loans’ have gone from strength to strength, with an external evaluation in September 2017 stating how loans have ”boosted the economic capacity of respective households to meet their needs such as education, food [and] medical care…”
To receive the loan, a prospective business owner will make a business plan and write an application with support from the CPT. They are given a timeframe within which to pay it back, by which time they have a thriving business, a child in school and a good knowledge of how to manage their own finances.
The external report included feedback from many recipients including a mother from Masese III who said “I thank God for bringing Children on the Edge, because I was really struggling but they gave me 200,000 Ugandan shillings and I am now able to educate my children, buy books, feed my children and even pay rent. Although there has been a problem with hunger in the community, my situation has not been as bad as it would have been without Children on the Edge support. That capital helped me to start a small business where I sell tomatoes and silver fish”.
Repaid loans are then available to be passed on to someone else in need. With recipients paying a little interest, the loan pot can gradually grow, in order to help an increasing number of households. The repayment of the loan with a little interest also teaches business and budgeting skills, rather than dependency, and makes the fund itself sustainable.
A community evaluation of the ‘Most Significant Changes’ in the area, facilitated in January 2018 showed how the development of a ‘savings culture’ had significantly improved the financial status of those involved. Robina from Masese II described how “I was able to start saving as well as reserve some money to send my five children to school, provide them with basic needs and scholastic materials. So basically I am happy because my children are back to school and I can provide for the family needs as a single parent.”
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.
Over 90 people are currently participating in the loan scheme, nearly half of whom are supporting five or more children. Not only have over half these people increased their savings, but an incredible 92% have reported that they are now able to feed their children twice a day. 93% are also now able to send their children to school, maintaining regular attendance.
Find out more about the difference these loans make in people’s lives by reading Lydia and Irene’s stories. Just click their images below:
HundrED aims to share best practice ideas and K12 innovations across borders, to help improve the future of education globally. To achieve this, a team of researchers investigated innovations from around the world to determine 100 projects that are already changing the face of education.
Over 1,000 innovations were identified through research, events and recommendations and then a shortlist were evaluated by HundrED’s academy, made up of educational experts, educators and students from 28 countries.
Projects were assessed on their innovativeness, impact and scalability. HundrED’s researchers focused on finding out whether innovations produced tangible results, whether they addressed a need in an new and meaningful way, and whether the idea could grow or be adapted to help others elsewhere in the world.
Saku Tuominen, CEO of HundrED, said: “Spreading innovations such as Children on the Edge’s community-led refugee education model across borders can be a gamechanger for education, worldwide. We will continue to encourage as many stakeholders as possible including schools, educators, administrators, students and organisations to get involved so that we can work towards a positive future.”
To share the K12 innovations, HundrED has created an online platform so that educators around the world can trial and review selected innovations using the resources for free. To explore the global innovations, please visit: www.hundred.org.
Find out more about the our work with Rohingya refugee children, and read about the the 100 2019 selected innovations at http://hundred.org/hundrED2019
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