In May 2016, we organised our first ever playscheme in Loco; a community we had just begun to work with. The playscheme offered a week full of hope, life, colour and fun for the children of Loco and gave us the opportunity to introduce ourselves to the community, especially the children.
We've just returned from our second successful playscheme this year, where we saw such a dramatic transformation compared to just one year ago. The most obvious physical transformation was our brand new Early Childhood Development Centre, which opened last year, and provided the bright and colourful space we needed for morning lessons. But the difference in the children was huge.
Read more about the transformation of this local community, all made possible thanks to your support.
Hosted by Children on the Edge Africa, with volunteers from The Body Shop At Home™, this year's playscheme was attended by over 300 excited children. They enjoyed a week of fun activities, from storytelling, football, three-legged races, drawings, crafts, music and parachute games. The highlight of the week for most of the children is the bouncy castle which was set up on Friday morning.
Every day involved structured educational classes for younger and older children in our ECD Centre in the morning, with the afternoon set aside for fun and games. Each day had a different focus: Monday was literacy; Tuesday was numeracy; Wednesday was the environment; Thursday was storytelling and Friday, well Friday, was bouncy castle day, with music, dancing and face painting!
Led by the ECD teachers and COTE Africa staff; with support from The Body Shop At Home™ volunteers, the children were taught counting songs; read story books; learnt about their local environment; made musical instruments and learnt about personal safety by identifying 'safe' and 'unsafe' places or objects in their local area. The 'Hungry Caterpillar' proved a very popular story for the younger children, with the older children enjoying 'Handa's Surprise'.
The week was a huge success. And for our The Body Shop At Home™ volunteers, Sophie, Hayley and Claire, the playscheme had a particularly powerful impact on them:
Sophie said "I want to say a massive thank you for allowing me to be part of a team who has made life changing experiences from day one not just for the children of Loco but also for myself. I was enabled to do activities I wouldn't normally do and really enjoyed myself, especially hearing the children laugh and seeing them smile. I never knew the full extent of what Children On The Edge do as we don't see behind the scenes but now I can explain to everyone I see with more passion in my heart to get the word out what you guys really do. Thank you from the bottom of my heart x".
Hayley said "What an experience being a volunteer for the 2017 playscheme! It pushed me out of my comfort zone and enabled me to try things I wouldn't usually do. I've learnt so much in such a short space of time and have memories I will treasure for a lifetime. From the second we landed in Entebbe to the moment we stepped back into England I was enchanted by the people I've met, the places I've seen and the phenomenal work Children On The Edge continue to do. Thank you for a truly life changing experience!"
Claire said: "I've had such an amazing experience with a fantastic group of people. It was completely humbling and we met some wonderful people, both young and old, I didn't want to leave. Seeing what Children on the Edge has done for the communities in Uganda first hand has been a real eye opening experience, and makes you appreciate what you have at home a little more. From the results this fantastic charity have achieved so far, it definitely proves you get better results with honey than vinegar. I feel more informed about the work Children on the Edge do and more confident to advocate on their behalf now. Thank you for allowing me to share this amazing experience with you".
The Body Shop At Home™ volunteers who joined us this year are all consultants or Managers who fundraise tirelessly for Children on the Edge. Along with colleagues at The Body Shop™ and The Body Shop At Home™, they provide vital financial support for our work with vulnerable children, especially in Uganda.
We're currently looking for a Trusts and Foundations Research Volunteer to help us for 1 day a week for 3 - 6 months in our offices in Chichester, West Sussex. Could you help? Or maybe you know someone who can?
Volunteering with Children on the Edge is a great way to support real and lasting change to the lives of vulnerable children. If you're looking for a career change, or a are a student or graduate who would like to get into International Development, then this volunteer role is a perfect opportunity to gain some valuable hands-on experience in the sector. Our own staff know only too well, that this type of experience can make a huge difference when applying for jobs with NGOs in the UK or abroad. As a small organisation, you will get the chance to really get 'stuck in' with our work, and understand what we do and how we do it.
As Trusts and Foundations volunteer, you will spend time researching trusts, foundations and any other potential funding opportunities for Children on the Edge, from within the UK, Europe and internationally. You will be directly supporting our Grants Officer, Sarah, who makes applications to funders, reports on all our projects around the world and brings in vital funding for our work. By supporting Sarah, you will be making a direct difference to the lives of vulnerable children around the world and helping to ensure our projects are successfully funded.
As part of the role, you will develop an in depth understanding of Children on the Edge and our work around the world and for the right person, there is scope to write small funding applications and project reports.
You can find out more about the role and exactly what's involved in the Role Description.
Who are we looking for?
We are looking for an organised, methodical and enthusiastic individual, educated to A-level standard or higher. You'll need to have a basic understanding of, and an interest in the work of Children on the Edge, International Development and fundraising.. With excellent written and verbal communication skills, attention to detail and a proficiency in Word/Pages, Excel/Numbers and internet search engines, you'll be able to organise your work and use your own initiative and nouse to research potential funding opportunities. We'd love you to have an understanding of and some experience in using databases (e.g. Salesforce), but we can show you the ropes if not.
We'll provide plenty of support to get you started; and our lovely team in Chichester are great at making tea and providing biscuits to keep you sustained while you're with us. Our two office dogs, Otto and Monty will also make you feel welcome, especially around lunch time!
The nitty gritty
If you are interested in this role, please send a copy of your CV and a cover letter outlining how you fit the qualities and skills outlined in the role description before midday on 9th June 2017 to:
Sarah Collinson, Grants Officer: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you'd an informal chat about the role, or if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call or email Sarah Collinson on 01243 538530 | email@example.com
In Patna, India we support two local partners who are using education and non-violent community action to tackle the culturally ingrained caste system. In addition to basic education, the centres run by these organisations are focussed on helping children to be aware of their rights, to respect and value other people and build a more inclusive society.
A big component of this is learning about gender equality. Sr Veena who leads this work in the urban slums of Patna says ‘We were not aware of the extent of gender inequality and bias that exists in our society. We realised through the classes that adolescent girls and children were just accepting the social barriers in their homes and in public places”.
Girls at home are regularly denied various items like ghee and milk, and are given poorer quality clothes. Through the gender equality classes, they began to challenge this in their families, and at least 44 have already seen their home situations improve.
The gender equality classes are directed at those not already in the centres, and they cover a range of subjects including ‘good touch and bad touch’, ideas of gender and how they are acquired, gender inequality at home, group pressure, violence, media and ‘the qualities of an empowered person’.
A major social barrier for girls here is access to learning. After this programme 88 children joined the education programme, 35 of these had never had any schooling and 80% were girls. Having gained the confidence to negotiate with their parents about the importance of education, these girls were allowed to begin classes.
One girl called Joya said “I was a very shy person. I had lot of fear. Even if someone beat me I never said anything. My teacher understood my problem, and through the gender training we were told we have to raise our voice against injustice and violence. I was not allowed to study. But at home I fought for my right to study after the training. I am a girl and I have a right to learn”.
The equality classes are for both boys and girls, with the understanding that everyone must work together to make a change. One boy called Vikas described how “We learnt so much more than just ‘school’ at the Centre. We learned about gender awareness, ‘Peace Day’ and ‘good touch and bad touch’. One day on the road I was walking. I saw a man touching a girl badly. I told him that you have no right to touch the girls. He was ashamed and put his head down and said ‘sorry’ to the girl and left her alone. I thank Ms Amisha for giving the class on good and bad touch.”
Outside of these classes work is done with parents through local Women’s Groups. These groups learn about saving and business, about how to claim the land and financial opportunities they are entitled to and how to create a groundswell of awareness regarding their rights. Through this they receive training on gender equality, helping them to understand that equal rights for their children starts at home. This has sometimes been a challenge, as Sr Veena describes:
“For women in the groups, it was very difficult for them to accept that they discriminate against their daughters and daughters-in-law at home. It will take time for women to accept that much gender discrimination is done by them at home. Unless you accept this, there cannot be any change. Three child marriages (of 13-14 year old girls) from one centre were stopped due to this awareness. At the same time three young girls were married from this area. It is a challenge for us we need to create more awareness about child marriage in the community”.
The teachers at the centres are all trained in gender equality, and many have struggled with social barriers themselves. Prisha was made to work with her father, from the age of 6 to 15 years in a footpath tea stall. Working until 10 pm each day, the intense workload and unhygienic condition of the place resulted in her legs and hands becoming deformed.
Sister Veena describes how “She did not give up her will to be educated. She cried insistently, so her father allowed her to attend the government school during the day. The problem was that there was no time to study or do homework, but she used to hide her book in the shop and continue her studies through to grade 10. Whenever he saw her studying in the shop, she was scolded and her books were thrown away.”
Soon after this her parents sent Prisha to another workplace outside the area. At this point our local partners supported her, brought her back to Patna and enabled her to begin her higher level study. She is teaching in one of the education centres and caring for other girls who are facing barriers to education.
Veena describes how at the start of the gender equality lessons, the girls were all intent on being called ‘son’ by family members and people in the community, rather than ‘daughter’. They said that they preferred the sense of identity it gave them. After four trainings, the girls all changed their thought patterns and expressed a desire to to be called ‘daughter’. Families started to increasingly adopt the term ‘Beti’, meaning ‘dear or darling daughter’.
Find out more about the work we support in India and consider joining us by clicking one of the action buttons below.
In Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, we work with local partners to provide education for around 500 Syrian refugee children. Most of these children are living in informal settlements on the border and are provided with child-friendly education in tent schools. We support the training of Syrian refugees as teachers, so the children can learn within their own culture and feel a sense of safety and familiarity.
One of the schools for refugees is based in a thriving Community Centre, run by our partners in Beirut. It caters for both Syrian and Iraqi refugees and not only provides education, but is a hub for the wider support of the refugee communities and the Lebanese poor.
Project leader Nuna Matar says “Life is difficult in the refugee settlements, but refugees in Beirut face huge difficulties too. There are people living on rooftops and in garages, they have no facilities, they can’t send their children to school and face a lot of discrimination”.
Over 100 children attend educational classes at the Centre, studying English, Arabic, maths, art and computers. It also provides psycho-social classes for around 300 children, vocational training and adult education. There are monthly clothes distributions and computer lessons for all ages to enable learning and contact with relatives back in Syria and Iraq.
Noora fled her city in Iraq where her husband worked in a restaurant, when it was surrounded by ISIS. They first fled to the north of the country with their three children, witnessing people killed around them and enduring a four hour journey on foot. “Everyone was afraid”, says Noora, ”we left with nothing at all. The children still remember this day and have nightmares”. After a month or so they made the trip to Beirut to find safety.
“Life is very difficult in Beirut. I worry about my children as there are no doctors and medication is too expensive. My husband has found work in construction but not enough for the rent, which is for two small rooms. With my parents, there are now eight people in these rooms. I feel safer here but the children still play games about war and shooting, and we have no security for the future.”
Noora has registered for an English summer school at the Centre to give her more options in the years to come, and her children come along to the education classes. The Centre in Beirut is a lifeline for refugees like Noora. It is attended by around 800 people a day, with new registrations every week.
Find out more about the work we support in Lebanon and consider donating to the project with the button below.