It’s been an exciting day joining our partners The Body Shop at Home for their Global Kickstart Conference to launch 2021.
As well as looking forward it was a moment to say thank you for such an unexpected and record breaking year of fundraising for Children on the Edge. We could never have known just how challenging a year 2020 would be when we last met with thousands of consultants in February, and yet you have risen to every challenge and created incredible moments of change for Children on the Edge.
The dire economic situation in Lebanon - that was already leading to food shortages and made far worse by COVID-19 restrictions - was further exacerbated by the massive chemical explosion in Beirut’s port on 4th August 2020. Our local partner Triumphant Mercy’s (TM's) administrative offices and Beirut community centre are approximately two miles from the epicentre of the blast and their metal shutter was warped and windows smashed. In the end, the explosion caused 193 deaths, around 6,500 injuries and left approximately 300,000 people homeless.
TM immediately mobilised additional resources (including recruiting volunteers and fundraising) to respond to the needs of those affected by the blast. We ran an emergency appeal and raised over £10,000 to contribute to their efforts.
A member of the Children's Parliaments in India, interviewing another child for the survey.
World Children’s Day is recognised each year on 20th November. It is an opportunity to advocate, promote and celebrate children's rights and marks the day when the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
This is a promise made 30 years ago by governments across the world to do everything in their power to protect and promote children’s rights to survive and thrive, to learn and grow, to make their voices heard and to reach their full potential.
30 years ago, along with Anita Roddick, our co-founder and CEO Rachel Bentley visited Romania to help institutionalised children left in orphanages from the brutal Ceausescu regime. This trip marked the very beginning of Children on the Edge.
Over the years in all of our work, we have gone to places far from the media spotlight and worked with some of the most marginalised children in the world. We have partnered with local organisations, supported communities to realise their rights and ensured that children's voices are heard.
Take 10 minutes, grab a cuppa and watch our interview with Rachel to find out how Children on the Edge started, what she regards as one of her 'stand out moments', and what the edge looks like today.
In all of our projects around the world we work in partnership with local organisations and people from the communities to help create safe, child friendly environments where children can realise their rights and restore the ingredients of a full childhood by generating hope, life, colour and fun.
In the Kutupalong camps where we work in partnership with local organisation Mukti Cox’s Bazar to provide education for 7,500 Rohingya children. We spoke to 28 year old Project Officer, Somorjit Das Raju who is part of the Mukti team, to find out more about his career and his highlights working with children in the Learning Centres.
Children on the Edge and Mukti are pioneering digital learning to overcome language barriers and deliver meaningful education for 7,500 Rohingya refugee children in the Kutupalong camp, Bangladesh; winning them this year’s education prize at the 2020 Tech4Good Awards.
Over a million Rohingya refugees have fled violence in Myanmar in regular waves of displacement since the early 1990s. Genocidal attacks in August 2017 drove more than 742,000 people to seek refuge in Bangladesh, over half of which were children.
Children on the Edge has been ensuring access for Rohingya refugee children in the Kutupalong camp since 2009, originally creating low-profile schools to enable learning for thousands who were cut off from services. Whilst the Bangladesh government currently allows education in the camp, children are not permitted to learn in Bangla and there is no universally recognised script for the Rohingya language. This means that the workbook based education generally on offer is severely limited.
To tackle this problem, Children on the Edge provided 75 smartphones and battery powered projectors to their schools in the camps. Their digital team translated or dubbed existing digital educational content into the Rohingya dialect. This is now regularly sent via WhatsApp to teachers’ smartphones, which slot into the battery-powered projectors in the classrooms.
After the initial pilot, child after child expressed joy and disbelief to be able to finally understand the lessons being presented. 1.5 hours of digital lessons are now delivered twice a day across all classrooms in the camps and their sister schools in the Cox’s Bazar communities.
In this year’s AbilityNet Tech4Good awards, this digital innovation was chosen for the Lenovo education award, recognising outstanding digital achievement in education. In its 10th year, Tech4Good judges reported a record breaking 400 entries with Mark Walker, AbilityNet’s Head of Marketing and Communications saying “Our tenth year has seen more entries than ever, with hundreds of amazing examples of how tech can help to make the world a better place”.
Rich Henderson, Director of Global Education Solutions at Lenovo said
Programme staff report that the initiative is enjoying an overwhelmingly positive response from children and teachers alike. Interviews with students have already shown how digital learning and digital video production is inspiring children and giving them fresh confidence that they will be able to compete in the job market of a globalised world.
Henderson goes on to say “Learning about the transformative work of Children on the Edge was uplifting, especially given the current tech and education divide. The organisation’s efforts should propel all other individuals and organisations in the tech space to follow suit by putting digital tech to good use”.
Rohingya refugee children have also gone on to use the technology to have their voices heard and to interact outside the camps and slums. Through their own online platform named Moja kids, they have recorded dozens of ‘green screen’ and outdoor news videos, which have been shared back and forth between camp and community schools.
“Seeing themselves on screen was literally jaw dropping and
The aim is that this platform will become a global online community with no other agenda than for children to be able express their ideas and talents, connecting and communicating beyond the confines of their challenging surroundings.
As the result of a recent Crowdfunder, simple tech equipment is already being sourced for three thriving Child Rights Clubs supported by Children on the Edge in Uganda, so they can connect with children in Bangladesh and be the next set of voices to share their thoughts and experiences as part of Moja Kids.
A Lebanese themed ‘dine in’ event, organised by Chichester based chef Juliet Graham has raised £1,375 for Children on the Edge’s Beirut explosion appeal.
2020 has been a year like no other. The global pandemic has created universal challenges to accessing education that millions have never faced before and the traditional model of teaching in a classroom environment has had to quickly adapt to the new normal.
Covid-19 lockdown procedures are having a devastating effect on the slum dwelling, refugee and internally displaced communities we support around the world. Through 30 years of working with some of the most marginalised groups, we know they are always the hardest hit in times such as these.
Together with our local partners we have been pursuing sensible solutions to contain the outbreak and provided 12,500 essential supply parcels to households who are most affected. This is thanks to the support of many generous donors including The Angus Lawson Memorial Trust, Partners Asia, DAK Foundation, The Body Shop at Home™, Alex and Will De Winton, Jeff Lucas and Postcode Global Trust.
We are now working to find creative solutions to enable children's learning to continue and to ensure they are safe whilst they are cut off from regular protection services.
Last month a group of Grade 9 refugee students from the school we support in Lebanon crossed the border and returned to Syria to take their high school exams. Taking their exams in Syria enables the children to prepare for their future, allowing them to continue their education if and when a return to their home country is possible. It was a major achievement for the children, their parents and our team, which took a huge amount of planning and preparation.