Two school students Ollie and Theo are taking part in an epic Kayak race this Easter to raise funds for Children on the Edge and Alzheimer's Research UK. They have raised over £600 for both charities so far and hope to raise much more.
You can sponsor Olly and Theo on their Virgin Money Giving page.
The race they are taking part in is the Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race and takes place from the 14th - 17th April.
Ollie says: "The race is more of a marathon to be honest! We are taking part in the junior doubles class, we will be kayaking 125 miles over the space of around 3 and a half days".
This 200 km race will take place over 3 nights and 4 days. They will be kayaking down the Kennet and Avon Canal before joining the Thames. The boys will be kayaking for roughly 7 hours non-stop each day (although they hope to complete each day in less than 7 hours). They will cover around 35 miles each day, with the last day being 20 miles. They will start on Friday 14th April in Devizes and plan to finish underneath Westminster bridge on Easter Monday, 17th April.
Each night the boys we will be camping beside the river, having to set up their own camp and cook for themselves, ready to set off early the next morning.
Along the race, there are 77 'portages' which require competitors to get out of their kayaks or canoes and run with it on their shoulders. On one section, they will have to do this for over a mile!
Theo and Ollie both go to Eton College and they wanted to raise money for Children on the Edge and Alzheimer's Research UK. They thought that the race would be a great way to fundraise, as well as also challenge themselves and test their limits.
Ollie said: "We chose Children on the Edge because we believe that they actually make a clear difference and you know where your money is going. We both think it's a great cause. Theo's mum, Anna, has recently been out in Uganda with Children on the Edge, seeing how their projects operate, so we know exactly where our money goes and we've heard about how much it helps vulnerable children. Numerous members of my family have been afflicted with Alzheimer's in the past, so I thought that ARUK would also be a good charity to raise money for along with Children on the Edge".
All of us at Children on the Edge would like to say a huge thank you to Ollie and Theo for taking on such a big challenge to help fundraise for our work with vulnerable children around the world.
We wish them the best of luck for the race and will be cheering them on from Chichester!
Children on the Edge is based in Chichester. in West Sussex, and we are very lucky to have an incredible level of support from our local community, through individuals, schools, churches and businesses; who do so much to help us. Find out out how you can help too.
We really value our strong links with our local supporters and organisations (as well as our non-local supporters too, of course!). Unlike some larger charities, we can offer a unique and direct link between you and the projects we run with our partners around the world. For example, last September, Nuna Matar who leads our work in Lebanon visited Chichester from Beirut to update local supporters on how their support and fundraising efforts were providing education for hundreds of Syrian refugee children in the refugee camps in Bekaa Valley.
This week, our International Director, Rachel Bentley spoke at the city Cathedral’s AGM to give the people of Chichester an opportunity to find out more about our work and how they can play a bigger part in supporting our projects abroad.
Chichester Cathedral Spokeswoman, Ruth Poyner, said:
"We are delighted that Rachel Bentley is spoke about the work of Children on the Edge at our AGM this week. The charity works to support vulnerable children all across the world – and sometimes in less well-known areas. Their important work supports these unseen children who are often living in truly desperate circumstances. Children on the Edge is a local charity with a long reach – offering the people of Chichester a way to directly support these vulnerable children overseas."
We currently work with children in Uganda, India, Burma (Myanmar), Lebanon and Bangladesh. At the Cathedral, Rachel highlighted our project in Lebanon, where we have set up five tent schools, providing education in safe spaces for 500 Syrian refugee children living in the camps of Bekaa Valley. Our partners in Lebanon are currently also making trips across the border to deliver supplies; food, fuel and blankets to 160 displaced Syrian families in Damascus.
Our work in Lebanon, supporting Syrian refugees has generated an incredible level of support from Chichester Churches Together, and other local people. For example. enough money was raised last year in Chichester to fund an additional tent school in Lebanon, and a local group of families have also recently committed to raise £40 a month to support a Syrian family with food and fuel.
We're pleased that this project has resonated locally, and would love more people to support our work to help Syrian refugee children in Lebanon and displaced families within Syria.
As our Director, Rachel says:
"A lot of the media’s attention is on Syrian refugees in Europe, but the majority of those fleeing the conflict in Syria are residing on the borders in countries like Lebanon; where refugees make up a quarter of the population. It is here that Children on the Edge are focussing our efforts, providing education and trauma care for children who have known nothing but war their whole lives. Local people can help to directly support this project by making a donation to Children on the Edge.
Children on the Edge are proud to be able to represent Chichester in our work around the world, and welcome any support from local individuals, organisations and business.
Find out how you can support us, through volunteering, fundraising or via your school, church or workplace, or contact Amy Rook, our Fundraising Officer on 01243 538530.
“I was expected to be quiet, and told not to ask questions, but I questioned everything I saw that was wrong around me” - Ten question for Varsha Jawalgekar on how to #BeBoldForChange
Throughout March and inspired by International Women's Day, we have been celebrating how the women on our projects encourage us to #BeBoldForChange. We are privileged to be partnering with a number of truly inspirational women, who use boldness and strength to bring about change for the women and girls in their communities.
Varsha Jawalgekar is the leader of Parivartan Kendra (PK) who we partner with in Bihar State, India. Children on the Edge support them in their work to end discrimination against the Dalit people in Patna, through education and community action. We asked her 10 questions about how to #BeBoldForChange.
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.
Small groups of Dalit women are ensuring shelter, education and safety for their communities by raising their voices in Bihar State, India.
In and around Patna Children on the Edge support two small, dynamic organisations who are fighting against caste discrimination for the children in their communities. They do this through a combination of education and local action, with a major strand of this action being rooted in the creation of Women’s Groups.
In the rural villages surrounding Patna, our partner Parivartan Kendra (PK) support 10 community women’s groups. Their key strategy in bringing change in these communities is the strengthening and development of these groups, each of which has around 25 women who work closely with their area’s education centre in trying to help the community, including its children, realise their rights.
One of the key priorities of the women’s groups is ensuring that their children are given access to education so that they can break out of the poverty cycle and the trap of bonded labour. Their aim is to slowly create a groundswell of awareness regarding rights, which then leads to action and the realisation of those rights.
Varsha Jawalgekar is the leader of this organisation, she says ‘I believe the only way real change can be brought in Dalit communities is through collective action, through the gathering and the rising up of many’. The community have witnessed how an individual fighting alone for their rights, is not only timely and ineffective, but dangerous. Varsha herself has been jailed and beaten, but more disturbingly an 8 year old girl was was badly beaten by a landowner simply for telling him she was going to school. He mocked her with caste names and asked her if she would be a magistrate or police officer when she grew up. When she said ‘why not?’ he attacked her with an axe. She is still experiencing medical problems as a result, and her parents are fighting for her case in the courts.
Varsha believes that communities as a whole must be taught about their rights and supported to stand up together, safely and peacefully fighting for change. This is not just a theory; the women’s groups are already bringing change.
Under Indian law, Dalits living below the poverty line are just as entitled as the rest of the population to certain allowances for housing, food and free health care. In practice though, Dalits face corruption and discrimination regarding these entitlements. They also experience practical difficulties in applying for them as many are illiterate and lack the required identification papers.
One group in the Chakfeteh area has been running for eight years and is well established. They recently ensured that 19 households received housing entitlements (financial allowance for housing). They did this through training on their basic legal rights and entitlements and being supported to complete the paperwork.
Another example of change was brought by the women’s group is in Madhaul. Dalit children at the community school here were experiencing high levels of violence and discrimination. Being treated as ‘untouchable’ is outlawed, but teachers here were making them sit separately, physically abusing them and denying them access to lessons and school meals.
Varsha and the women’s group here conducted a peaceful protest in front of the school. As a result they were locked up in a classroom by the headmaster, who made threats about ‘boiling them alive’. Varsha called the police, who freed them and demanded the headmaster apologise. Although this seems like a a lenient consequence, it sent a strong message throughout the community about the practice of discrimination based upon caste. The women’s group have since reported positive changes in the school’s treatment of their children, as a direct result of their actions.
A few years ago in Patna, two Dalit children were kidnapped from a poor area with a high crime rate. Many Dalit children are abducted here with no reprisals due to local corruption, so Varsha and some of her colleagues sat in the middle of the road until a traffic jam built up in order to get a proper response from the authorities. When the police arrived they said that the children could be brought back to the women within the hour. This is not only clear evidence that the police are involved in trafficking, but that Varsha’s model of standing up collectively against discrimination, does yield results.
Change here is gradual and hard won. Through an outlawed yet active caste system, Dalit children here face severe discrimination, violence and poverty. They go un-noticed locally due to cultural norms and are overlooked internationally because of India’s relative wealth. Children on the Edge are committed to supporting our partners in bringing lasting change for these children and their communities.