Long-term Children on the Edge supporter and talented stage and screen actor, Jonathan Hyde has donated the proceeds of his recent art exhibition to our work, raising £2,600.
Famous for his roles in films such as 'Crimson Peak', 'Titanic', 'Jumanji' and 'The Mummy' amongst others, Jonathan has a talent for painting and urged colleagues and friends to purchase his artwork in a recent exhibition in aid of three chosen charities - Children on the Edge, Time is Precious and UK Friends of Healing.
We're delighted that Jonathan chose to support Children on the Edge with an exhibition again in 2017, having previously held an exhibition of his work for Children on the Edge in Chichester in 2012. His donation will make a huge positive difference to our work with vulnerable children around the world.
You can follow Jonathan on Facebook or view his website here
‘School is like their second home’ - Syrian refugee teachers sustain safe spaces for children existing in chaos
‘Without the schools, nobody in my family could read or write’ - How education is bringing hope to Rohingya refugees
Described by the UN as “one of the world’s most persecuted minorities”, the Rohingya people from Rakhine state, Burma have faced generations of horrific anti-Muslim violence and abuse from the Burma authorities. As a result, thousands flee over the border in the hope of finding refuge in Bangladesh.
With official UN camps in Bangladesh at capacity, arrivals since 2005 have been denied official refugee status. They are forced to settle in makeshift border camps, and any provision for unregistered refugees is prohibited by the Bangladesh authorities.
On the request of the Rohingya community in one of these makeshift camps, we have provided education for 2,700 Rohingya refugee children through a low-profile approach.
Ahmed is 10 years old and lives in the makeshift Kutapalong refugee camp with his parents and six brothers and sisters. He attends one of the schools run by Children on the Edge in the camp. His family are Rohingya, and faced constant persecution by the authorities in Burma. They fled to Bangladesh during a surge of violence towards their people group in 2012.
His father says “We had a simple but happy life in Burma. I worked as a farmer and sometimes a fisherman. We were not rich, but we had everything we needed. Then the Rakhine mobs came to my village. They burned down my neighbour’s house. I did not wait to meet them. I took my family and ran. I have never met my neighbour again. We walked for two days to cross the border. Some mosques gave us food and water along the way. After we crossed, we walked another half day to Kutupalong camp. That first day we arrived I began building our house. I knew we had no other place to go”.
Ahmed does not remember much about home, as he was just five years old when they fled, but he remembers being happy and playing with his friends in the grove of coconut trees near his house, taking turns climbing the trees.
“All I really know is life in the camp. I get up at 5.00, finish my school homework and eat, go to the madrassa and then collect firewood if I can find any. Then I go to class. This is the best part of my day. I am lucky to learn, it gives me something to do each day. My favourite subject is English, but I can read and do maths, even my older brother can’t do this! If there is a newspaper I help my family understand what it says. I feel very proud to help them”.
To reach the most households in the camp, Children on the Edge gives a place to one child from each household, then each student will share as much of their learning as they can with their family and friends. Ahmed’s father says “Ahmed is a smart boy and works very hard. Without education, he will just be a labourer like me. I believe he can do anything he wants if he studies hard. Without the schools, nobody in my family could read or write. I am very thankful that I have one child who can do this. Maybe they can all find a better jobs than me because they can learn. He brings his books home and shares them with his brothers and sisters, so I am hopeful he can teach the other children. Now I am too old to learn these things, but they still can learn. Also, people in the community know they can ask my son to read or write something if they need. That makes me proud”.
Ahmed’s father tries to provide for the family by working as a daily labourer outside the camp. He does jobs that locals don’t want to do, but says that work is not always available and they are paid a pittance. Locals are unfriendly and he is often grabbed by the police who take any money he has earned.
Ahmed never leaves the camp, and feels sorry for his friends that can’t attend the school. “They have nowhere to go, and they can’t read like me. I try to teach them, but it is not easy. If I couldn’t attend the schools I would be sad”.
Ahmed feels that his future will be different because of the things he has learnt at the schools, he says “I know I can find a job because I can read, write, and do maths. And I know if I work very hard and learn many languages I can someday be a doctor in another country. Then I will take care of all my family. I love seeing my teachers, who are very smart, being with my friends and having books”.
His teacher says “We hope that one day the children will replace us to teach in the community and also in the world. That they will be able to keep the name of the Rohingya known in the world. If this doesn’t happen then we will disappear. We need them to ensure the education goes down each generation.”
Find out more about the project and consider supporting our work by clicking one of the buttons below.
Across the world, over 65 million people have been forced from their homes as a result of war, persecution and poverty. This crisis dominates our media, but whilst much of the discussion is around the problems of migration in Europe, the vast majority of refugees flee to neighbouring countries.
The Refugee Council describes how “It’s poor countries, not rich, western countries, who look after the vast majority of the world’s refugees” and state how The UN’s Refugee Agency have estimated that nearly nine in ten of the world’s refugees are sheltered by developing countries.
Children on the Edge exists to help those children who are the most vulnerable; those living on the edge of their societies and forgotten by the media and international community. This is why we invest our support for those refugees that are trapped in border camps, often unregistered and denied even the most basic services. Below are a few examples of the refugee groups we work with and some detail about why supporting them is crucial.
Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh
Described by the UN as “one of the world’s most persecuted minorities”, the Rohingya people from Rakhine state, Burma have faced generations of horrific anti-Muslim violence and abuse from the Burma authorities. As a result, over the years, and with an additional surge of violence last October, according to the Bangladesh government, there are now an estimated 300,000 - 500,000 Rohingya people dwelling in Bangladesh.
With official UN camps in Bangladesh at capacity, thousands are denied official refugee status. They are forced to settle in makeshift border camps, and any provision for unregistered refugees is prohibited by the Bangladesh authorities.
On the request of the Rohingya community in one of these makeshift camps, we have provided education for 2,700 Rohingya refugee children through a low-profile approach. 45 small classrooms, dispersed throughout the camp, with basic learning materials have been built out of mud either within or alongside existing dwellings. Rohingya teachers have been trained from within the camps and the children learn with a child-friendly curriculum, that focusses on creativity and fostering self worth.
Syrian refugees in Lebanon
The years of conflict in Syria have created one of the most devastating humanitarian disasters of this generation. As the crisis enters its sixth year, the United Nations has reported that 13.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. There are 4.8 million refugees and over 6.6 million have been internally displaced.
Much of the media attention regarding Syrian refugees is focussed on their migration to Europe, but the vast majority of people seeking refuge remain in border countries. Over 1.5 million have ended up in Lebanon which, with a population of just 4 million themselves, have the highest per capita concentration of refugees in the world. The most vulnerable do not have the capacity to travel further than the borders, and the refugee community we have spoken with here have only expressed a desire to return home.
The Lebanese government have been been struggling to accommodate this flood of new arrivals. Despite a national and international focus on providing education for refugees, the Ministry of Education’s ‘Back to School’ programme has a number of problems, resulting in insurmountable barriers for many refugee children in the Bekaa Valley settlements where we work.
Consequently, through a number of informal tent schools, we are providing education for 500 Syrian refugee children. Syrian refugees are trained as teachers, using a child friendly Montessori curriculum that is taught in the Syrian dialect.
Internally displaced Kachin people in Burma
Since June 2011 the central government in Burma has been in open conflict with the Kachin Independence Army following a failure in peace talks to resolve their longstanding conflict. While this conflict dates back decades, the past six years have seen consistent fighting, displacing more than 120,000 people across Northern Burma.
In 2012 we heard first-hand accounts of those fleeing the conflict, who spoke of brutal violence, ongoing atrocities and severe violations of human rights including the wide-spread burning of villages, rape, maiming and executions.
Now the government appears determined to crush this last remaining pocket of wide-spread armed resistance in Burma and their tactics have been increasingly harsh. In October, with significant natural resources and political influence at stake, they began to use jets, helicopters and shelling to attack civilians in the camps where we work, forcing them to flee yet again.
We have been working for a number of years in high-altitude, internally displaced people's (IDP) camps, providing education for 629 displaced Kachin children, in 14 Early Childhood Development Centres. We are the only international organisation providing ongoing support for young children in these remote camps. The Centres are safe spaces which provide children with vital opportunities to learn, play and get the support they need, so that they are able to grow and develop, in spite of the daily realities of war.
Children on the Edge go where the need is greatest. Our programmes give refugee children like these a safe environment where they are protected and ensure that their rights are realised. Click the buttons below to receive updates about these projects or donate to this vital work. Thank you.
The pupils, parents and staff at Shellingford CE Primary School in Oxfordshire have been raising money for our work with Syrian refugee children in Lebanon since September 2016 as part of a whole school year of fundraising. So far they have raised an enormous £4871.13!
We visited the school in September 2016 and spoke to the staff and students about our project in Lebanon, providing education for 500 Syrian refugee children through our tented schools in Bekaa Valley. We spoke to the young students about what it was like to be a refugee and tried to get them to think about what life might be like for a Syrian refugee family who had to flee their home because of the ongoing conflict. The children were asked to think about what items they might take to help ensure their survival; things like like blankets, passports, money, a torch, first aid kit and a mobile phone.
This visit from Children on the Edge in September kicked off Shellingfords' fundraising for the year ahead. But teacher, Alex Drew was behind all the schools' fundraising activities. His family foundation set up in memory of his father (the Simon Drew Foundation) kindly provide financial support for our work in Lebanon, and he was keen for the school to get behind Children on the Edge too. Alex has led the schools fundraising which included a 'Self-Portrait' project, 'The Ultimate Sport Challenge' and a community picnic.
For the first of their activities, the 'Shellingford Self-Portrait Project', the children drew pictures of themselves which parents were able to order as keychains, framed portraits of fridge magnets, with all proceeds coming to Children on the Edge.
In February, staff and pupils took part in a series of sponsored sports activities called 'The Ultimate Sports Challenge'. The activities were linked to what Syrian refugees might have experience on their journey from their war-torn homes to refugee camps in Lebanon. Every child and teacher was asked to raise money with a specially created sponsorship form.
Tuesday: The Run
The whole school, including all the adults tried to run as many laps as possible in the school grounds, with 15 laps equalling 1 mile. The whole school ran an incredible 328 miles which they worked out as being as far as Shellingford to Paris, or the same distance from Aleppo, Syria to the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Thursday: The Hike
Pupils took part in a hike in the local area. On the day each pupil brought a backpack with essentials they might need on a long journey. The children had been learning about refugees and thinking about what families and children might need to take with them to survive if they had to leave their homes in hurry, not knowing if they would come back. Despite storm Doris stopping them walking through the woods, they were able to walk through a mile long field and the village.
Friday: The Scramble
On Friday, the school organised a challenging obstacle in the playing fields. The obstacles were designed to be similar to what a refugee child might have endured when travelling across an unknown landscape. There were water and mud features and everyone got really stuck in.
Sunday: The Climb
For staff and families who were able to, the school finished their 'Ultimate Sports Challenge' with a climb up nearby White Horse Hill. The climb was related to a refugee's journey to hopeful safety.
Together, the Sports Challenge and Self-Portrait project raised an incredible £2546.52!
The schools' summer fundraising activity involved a community picnic which took place on Friday 26th May. Local residents were invited to join staff and pupils on a gloriously sunny lunchtime. The picnic raised another £127 to add to their total.
The parents at Shellingford Primary School have also been doing an incredible job of raising money through the 'Friends of Shellingford Primary School'. Their Spring Ball on the 20th May raised an amazing £806.50.
We were particularly touched to hear about year 5 pupil, Samantha's fundraising efforts. She independently organised for her family to make donations for chores completed at home. She raised a very impressive £43.90 with her hard work.
The money raised by Shellingford Primary School will go such a long way to help support our work with Syrian refugee children in Lebanon.
Over the past 3 years Children on the Edge have been working in partnership with Lebanese NGO - Mercy Foundation within the refugee communities in the Bekaa Valley, providing quality, child friendly education for refugee children who are unable to access government or UN school provision.
These tent schools, in addition to a school based out of a Community Centre in Beirut, currently provide education for 500 children aged 6 -12. They are safe places with a trusted adult presence. Where other projects of this kind bring in teachers from the outside, this model raises up teachers from within the Syrian refugee community.
Could your school fundraise to support Children on the Edge? Find out more and Download our Schools Pack or contact Amy Rook, our Fundraising Officer: email@example.com
On Tuesday 30th May ‘Cyclone Mora’ hit Bangladesh's border region, wreaking havoc in the Rohingya refugee camps and destroying thousands of homes.
An estimated 500,000 Rohingya, a Muslim minority from Burma (Myanmar), have been fleeing from horrific human rights abuses, into Bangladesh for decades. UNHCR assists 33,000 Rohingya refugees in two official camps in Bangladesh, but there is an additional estimate of several hundred thousand undocumented Rohingya living in makeshift sites and host villages.
We work to provide education for 2,700 Rohinga children in one of the makeshift camps in this area. As most homes in the camps are made of mud, sticks and plastic, they offered little resistance to the strong winds.
It has been reported that in this region more than 17,000 houses were destroyed and more than 35,000 were damaged. A spokesperson for the UN has reported that they are ‘very under resourced’ to deal with the damage.
The cyclone comes just seven months after a new wave of violence from the Burma military caused a further 75,000 Rohingya refugees to cross the border into Bangladesh. These new arrivals were traumatised, vulnerable and many were wounded. They arrived to camps which had little or no resources to help them, and have been existing since this point in hastily constructed tents of bamboo and plastic which will have given no protection from this storm.
Visiting the camp today, John Littleton, our Asia Regional Manager said “The cyclone has damaged 70% of the houses in the camp. Sadly eight of our schools will need to be completely rebuilt and 18 schools need new roofs.”.
The storm has had a devastating impact on the entire Cox’s Bazar area, so around six of our schools for working children in Cox’s Bazar slum communities also need repairs due to wind and flooding. The total cost for repairs in both the camp and Cox’s Bazar community is estimated at between £7,000-10,000 and we are working to find these funds.
27 year old Hamida Begum told Reuters “"I hate being a Rohingya. We are being tortured in Myanmar. Now in Bangladesh, we have no rights. Nothing. After this cyclone, we don't have a roof. We are living under the sky. We have no future.”
Find out more about the work we do with the Rohingya and consider a donation to the project by clicking the button below.
This time last year, we'd just returned from our first ever playscheme in Loco slum, Uganda. We began working with this community in January 2016 and last years' playscheme was a way for us to introduce ourselves to the local community. We organised a week of activities with the COTE Africa team for local children, and we returned in May 2017 to do the same again.
Our staff and volunteers have just returned from this years' playscheme and were blown away by the transformation from last year. Sarah Collinson who ran the playscheme with the help of three The Body Shop at Home volunteers, said:
"This years playscheme showed us how much progress is happening week by week in Loco. The work of our Child Protection Teams, the new Early Childhood Development Centre offering education to the most vulnerable young children, and the work of all the COTE Africa staff has made such a huge difference compared to just a year ago. This was particularly clear in how quickly the children adapted to games and lessons; treated each other with kindness; and showed vital awareness about keeping safe and clean. This is a testament to all the training and support that is going on behind the scenes for the past year".
In January 2016, the people in Loco said they had no hope. Unemployment and income poverty had left households vulnerable and their children were 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”.
But ten local people were 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. 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. We also built a brand new Early Childhood Development Centre (ECD) to offer early years education for some of the most vulnerable children in the community.
The Chairman of the CPT 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”.
The transformation in the community was obvious at this year's playscheme. For example, the children were much better behaved than last year, where we saw a lot of competition for toys and activities between the children. But this year, the older children were looking out for the younger children on the playscheme, ensuring they were safe and able to take part in the activities fairly.
Last year, serious health problems emerged in the community during the playscheme, and our team adapted the activities to include a full day’s training on health and hygiene with songs about hand washing and puppet shows on keeping clean and safe from illness. This year, it was clear that health and hygiene are now fully engrained with the children who understand why this is so important. The children are now quick to wash their hands before eating their daily porridge; running to the queue at the tap to wash meticulously with soap whilst singing "this is the way we wash our hands" song.
Other aspects of sanitation had also vastly improved this year. All the children understood the importance of using the bathroom facilities and made sure they washed their hands after going to the toilet. This is something that ECD Centre staff take very seriously, checking the children as they leave the toilet and sending them back to wash their hands if they aren't wet!
Sarah said: "The COTE Africa Team are running another playscheme in December, and I know they are going to see more signs of transformation with the children. Things change so quickly when the community work together and as our other work, like the education loans get more and more established, everyone is looking forward to see the difference made in Loco".
Read more about our work in Uganda
Read more about this years' playscheme
his week, from the 1st - 7th June is national Volunteers Week, an annual celebration of the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK.
We wanted to take the opportunity to thank our amazing volunteers for everything they do to help us here at Children on the Edge.
What do they do to help?
In our UK office in Chichester, we rely on our regular troop of committed volunteers who help us keep things ticking over. From making trips to the bank, sorting out t-shirts and other fundraising materials, popping to the post office, helping with general admin or supporting staff with specific projects or pieces of work; our office volunteers provide vital weekly support for Children on the Edge.
At local events, our volunteers are a huge help and enable us to do so much more than we could do otherwise. Last Christmas, many people came forward to help us sell ‘Season of Hope’ gift wrap at a number of local Christmas Fayres. All helping us raise money to support our projects abroad.
Our annual events like the Chichester Half Marathon which takes place in October and raises thousands of pounds for Children on the Edge, simply could not and would not, take place without the commitment and dedication of our local team of helpers. From our enthusiastic marshals who keep participants safe and going in the right direction, to volunteers who distribute water, medals and goody bags, to those who help us set up and pack up the race village; all make this event possible.
Could you sign up to help at the Chichester Half Marathon in 2017?
Emily Dadson, our Office Manager says “At the heart of all we do we are children on the edge – abandoned, forgotten, ignored. Our volunteers understand this vision and purpose and so become very much part of the COTE team. Their practical input is invaluable, but also their wisdom, thoughts and ideas. We listen and learn and gain so much more from having them work alongside us. They genuinely add value to our tasks and our gratitude to them is huge. I hope we say thank you enough – but just in case we don’t, here are our thanks – in black and white – from all of us to all of you. You know who you are!”
These days we only take volunteers abroad very rarely. It’s not an experience the public can apply for or buy into. We’re a small charity and want to put all our resources and time into making sure the children we work with have the very best provision. Large scale volunteer programmes don’t really fit with this strategy, but once a year, we do take a small group of volunteers and fundraisers from The Body Shop at Home™ as well as other corporate partners who tirelessly raise money for our work throughout the year, to one of our projects. Most recently, this has been to Uganda, for our annual Playscheme.
What do our volunteers say?
Justine is the owner of Mia Bella Casa in Rustington and has given a phenomenal amount of time to Children on the Edge over the years.
She says "I have been a supporter of Children on the Edge for many years. I worked for The Body Shop and we were did a lot of fundraising for them. Back in December 2010 I was made redundant, knew I wanted to spend a few months volunteering and decided to go to Children on the Edge.
I helped organise the flagship event, the Easter Trail and the Chichester Half Marathon for 2 years running. I loved it, the team are fabulous, but just knowing that you are giving something back to the community and helping children whose lives are in such turmoil makes it so worthwhile. It's also a chance to learn new skills."
Just last month this year’s volunteer team came back from our annual Playscheme in Uganda. Claire, who joined us as a volunteer from The Body Shop at Home™ 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".
Walter Jones is a retired Headmaster who has been giving his valuable time and skills to Children on the Edge for the past few years. He says “Having done some travelling in South East Asia, I was very aware of the huge number of children living on very little in countries such as Bangladesh, Burma and Thailand. When I realised that Children on the Edge existed to help these very children, I was keen to volunteer to help. In the last couple of years I have spoken at school assemblies, shaken a bucket at the railway station, given a presentation at a day centre, not to mention dished out water at the Chichester Half Marathon. There are office chores as well – but the cause is such a good one that routine tasks are not a great burden. I strongly recommend Children on the Edge!”.
If you’d like to join us as volunteer, take a look at our current opportunities here.
We are currently looking for volunteers to help at the Priory Park Festival in Chichester on the 7th, 8th & 9th of July as well as at the famous Chichester Half Marathon on the 8th October 2017. Find out more and sign up.
If you have any questions about volunteering at Children on the Edge, please email Emily Dadson, our Office Manager, or call 01243 538530.