Child sacrifice is startlingly common in Uganda with more abductions, mutilations and killings than the authorities acknowledge.
The police have cited the eastern region of Uganda as having the highest incidence of child sacrifice cases; with police chief Moses Binonga blaming the high infiltration of unregistered healers. With little protection or justice from the authorities, communities like Masese II were seemingly powerless.
Our pilot Child Protection Team (CPT) was created at the height of a local killing spate in July 2012. Through workshops they raised awareness on the issue of child sacrifice, tackling the beliefs, mindsets and behaviour that sustain the practice. They created productive livelihoods to ensure parents could afford to send their children to school and keep them safe throughout the day.
The team also created a strong safety net within the community with easy access to the police. With the provision of a bicycle and loudspeaker, people could quickly alert the neighbourhood and the police to the presence of suspected perpetrators.
Attackers started to realise they would easily get caught if they tried anything in that area. All of these measures resulted in the complete eradication of incidents in Masese II in the last 3 years.
Since this success at community level we have recognised the need to work on the wider development of a protective environment for children regarding this issue. We are currently replicating the model into the wider area, with a view to scaling up across the country, reaching many vulnerable communities where children are at risk.
The rising problem of child sacrifice in Uganda has been cited by the media, the Government of Uganda and the UN as a major child protection concern. Despite this, it is clear that existing legislation at national level is ill-equipped to deal with it. Although incidents of child sacrifice are being reported to police and investigated, there are very few prosecutions.
Consequently, Children on the Edge are supporting stand-alone legislation, addressing child sacrifice in the Ugandan parliament through the passing of the Prevention of Human Sacrifice and Harmful Practices Bill.
Together with Annie Ikpa (a media professional and the instigator of the concept of this Bill), we have begun work with the Ugandan Child Rights NGO Network (UCRNN) who are accomplished in Ugandan legal advocacy, to lobby for this vital change.
Working as a volunteer in Uganda, Annie witnessed first-hand some of the disturbing consequences of this practice. Since then she has created a short film on the subject, arranged the drafting of the Bill (through Ugandan parliamentary lawyers) and an initial round of networking
The passing of this Bill, specifically focused on tackling issues of child sacrifice and covering existing gaps in legislation, coupled with our work at grass roots level with the child protection teams will make a crucial step forward for the safety and protection of children in Uganda.
Please consider a donation to this campaign, or get involved by fundraising.
Find out more about our current child protection work in Ugandan slums
Since Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti there have been more than 900 reported dead and up to 90% of some areas of southern Haiti are thought to have been destroyed.
Food shortages are becoming very serious and with the country's sanitation already overwhelmed, there is much concern about a surge in cholera cases. Haiti is one of the world's poorest countries and has never fully recovered from the earthquake in 2010 that killed thousands of people and a cholera epidemic that followed.
FONDAPS is a great organisation lead by Patrice Millet and based in Port au Prince. Patrice and his team provide football training, support and mentoring for hundreds of children in the slums, as well as vital food parcels to take home.
Children on the Edge had the privilege of supporting FONDAPS in their work over the period of a few years after the earthquake. Since Hurricane Matthew struck the country FONDAPS has been organising a small relief effort to reach the area worst hit by the storm.
Patrice says "The southern part of the island is completely devastated. We are currently working on food kits to send to the families who suffered most. Clean water is essential and we are looking for water purification tablets and food to provide as the population is still in shock".
If you have seen coverage about the devastation of this storm and would like to respond, then we would highly recommend sending your donations direct to FONDAPS. They are a compassionate, engaged, local organisation, responding rapidly to the crisis, so you know your donation will be going directly to those who need it most.
Donate to the FONDAPS relief effort in Haiti
Find out more about the work of FONDAPS
On Sunday 9th October we held the 5th annual Chichester Half Marathon, which raises vital funds for our work with vulnerable children abroad.
This year was our biggest and best event yet, with over 1051 registered runners and for the first time we introduced two brand new races - the 10 miler event and the Team Relay. It was a glorious sunny day, and as our runners gathered at Chichester College from 8am, you could feel the buzz in the air. We were joined by local TV presenter, Sally Taylor and local hero Amanda Worne who both opened the race and pressed the starting gun to set our runners on their way.
This year, we've been kindly sponsored by so many local businesses. We couldn't run the event without their support, so we'd like to say an enormous thank you to: Montezuma's, Store Property, Krowmark, Evans Weir, Covers, Wiley, Irwin Mitchell, Natures Way Foods, SouthDowns Water, The Body Shop Foundation, Higher Nature and The Run Company. If your business would like to be involved in the Chichester Half 2017, please contact Eloise.
In this year of firsts; we also launched our 'Run for Refugees' Team of runners who were not only supporting Children on the Edge by taking part in the event, but fundraised especially for us to raise money for our work with refugee children. We provide protection, education and support in trauma recovery for Syrian refugee children in Lebanon, Rohingya refugee children in Bangladesh and internally displaced children in in Kachin State, Burma.
We had 16 amazing runners, who have so far raised an incredible £4325! They were tasked with raising £100 each to help cover the daily cost of running a tent school for 100 children in a refugee camp in Lebanon, but they've doubled their target and raised enough to support 100 children going to school for 7 weeks. A great achievement.
Our Run for Refugees team included two Relay Teams - Jamie, Gemma and Dan, raising £300, along with Emma Payne who ran with two family members and raised £840 for Children on the Edge. Also running his first ever half marathon was Rory Durkan; who was still smiling at the end and raised a great £162; nearly double his target! Matt Gibbs, our only Nordic Walker not only travelled down from Preston for the event to raise money for us, but was also the first Nordic Walker over the line! We'd expect nothing less of the British Champion.
Speaking of champions, John Miles, a long standing Children on the Edge fundraiser achieved a PB and came first in the over-60 category! Runner, Emma Manton made the most of her time in Chichester whilst performing at the Festival Theatre by taking part in the Chichester Half and has raised an amazing £525. Finally, Laura Magnavacchi only signed up for the race a few days before and did a great job at some last minute fundraising!
In other fundraising news, were were really touched to meet a team of 15 runners who were taking part in the Chichester Half in memory of their friend and fellow club runner, Dawn Piechoczek, who won the 2013 Chichester Half in the over 50's category in her last running race. What a fitting, and lovely tribute. The team of friends were raising money for Macmillan and the Sussex Cancer Trust and had raised nearly £1000. It's great to see the Chichester Half providing an opportunity for people to raise funds for other great local and national charities.
Our amazing volunteers also can't go without a mention; they were up early on a Sunday to help marshal the race, hand out goody bags, present medals and help our runners refuel and rehydrate once they were over the finish line. The event really couldn't happen without this incredible team behind us.
We're so grateful to all our volunteers, sponsors and runners who made this years' event such a success.
We are currently looking for an organised and methodical researcher to support our Trusts and Foundations fundraising by developing a database of relevant funding opportunities.
The Children on the Edge Head Office is based in Chichester, West Sussex. From this office the charity drives its international development strategy, major fundraising and charitable governance.
We are always keen to hear from people who identify with our aims and goals, have a heart for volunteering their time and their relevant skills for a truly worthwhile cause.
As a research volunteer, working together with our Grants Officer you will research relevant trusts, foundations and other funding opportunities from within the UK, Europe and internationally. Due to our recent successful application for equivalency determination status, the USA now offers a wealth of opportunities which were previously unavailable to us.
Developing an understanding of Children on the Edge and our work, you will be able to systemically and thoroughly carry out in depth research, using a wide variety of available sources and record your findings in a clear and coherent way.
By identifying key funding opportunities you’ll make a big difference to Children on the Edge and, ultimately, to the lives of vulnerable children around the world.
To find out more about this post including goals, key tasks and responsibilities, skills required and benefits for you, please see the job description on our volunteer page.
If you feel this is something you have the skills for and you would be willing to give some time, then simply fill out a volunteer registration form and we will then arrange for you to meet with our Office Manager and Grants Officer.
We look forward to hearing from you!
In Bangladesh, the plight of poor families is desperate and access to basic essentials is scarce. UNICEF estimates that over 5 million children between 5 and 14 years old are sent out to work, often in dangerous conditions, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
Maisa is 12 years old and lives in a slum area of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Her father died when she was very young and she has to work to help with her family’s income. A few years back she was making garlands with her mother, but her mother has become increasingly ill with a heart problem and diabetes. Mow Maisa has to earn money working on the beach as tour guide and water seller.
Because of her family’s situation there is great pressure on her. “I run the family with one of my sisters who also earns money this way”, says Maisa, “I’ve also grown a vegetable garden at the back of our hut”.
Not only this, but as a girl, despite legislation from the government, there is still a cultural expectation that the best option for her is to be married young.
One parent from the community described how “Unmarried girls are at risk of sexual advances, harassment, rape and kidnap. They are safe from this if they are married. In our country girls cannot earn, only boys can earn so girls have to marry. Girls just have to produce children.”
Maisa has no desire to get married early. She explains “If I could change anything about my fate, then I would train to be a doctor. If I could do this it would change everything.”
The Community Schools we support in Cox’s Bazar provide a free education in the afternoons for children like Maisa. Here they have a few hours to learn, rest and play with their friends. They are free from any adult responsibilities and given the chance to just be children. All the students follow a BRAC curriculum and are prepared to access government schools at a later stage to continue their education beyond Grade 3. They are also encouraged in creative art and expression.
Alongside this, teachers and staff from the programme build relationship in the community with parents and raise awareness about the importance of girls remaining in education, as well as the dangers and damaging effects of child marriage.
Maisa has been attending one of these schools for a few years now and has made great progress. She is also part of the child council so she can have her voice heard, influence the shaping of the project and represent the views of her friends.
“Before I was in school, people looked down on me and used bad words.” says Maisa, “Now I am in school I don’t get this happening. I can read and write, so my neighbours and relatives praise me instead. I was spending time with bad people when I didn’t go to school. Now I study. I have hope now, that I will get a job which will change things for my family.”
Bahiya is a Syrian refugee, who fled with her family to Lebanon, in order to escape the violent conflict going on around them. She thinks she is 10 or 11 years old, but she's not sure.
When she arrived at the tent school we support in Bekaa Valley, the teachers noticed she was stood off to the side, completely uninterested in the developments of the day. She held a girl of three in her arms and another girl of five was yanking on her skirt for attention. It became apparent that these were her siblings, and that she had a choice of staying at home to take care of them or bringing them to class with her.
Throughout alphabet lessons and other activities, Bahiya would simply sit in a corner, wiping her little sister's face while she cradled the other in her arms. After time the teachers could not tell whether or not she was benefiting from the lessons at all. She would not speak in class, would never participate in a group or give any account of the last six months of her life.
The staff decided to keep a closer eye on her and also, with permission from her mother, to find someone else in the camp to watch Bahiya’s sisters while she was at school.
Something clicked, and the difference was loud and immediate. She walked in with a smile and seemed to learn all of her letters in one day. She made more friends than anyone else. Taking away the responsibilities of an adult instantly allowed her to be a child among children.
In a recent evaluation with all the children, when asked who they thought had progressed the most the unanimous decision was Bahiya. The smile on her face was priceless.
Her teacher said “I feel that while she used to believe that there was nothing more to life than taking care of house work and her sisters, now she knows that there is hope for something more. She recently came to me after class and said that she wanted lessons every day. She thanked us for coming to the camp. We both learned something. She has learned that she was still a child and that children are meant to live a different life than adults. I learned that a situation is only hopeless when you have no hope that it can be different”.
There are currently 28 Syrian refugee teachers at the tent schools we support for refugee children in Lebanon. These people are trained up from within the refugee camps and they not only teach, but are a source of help and advice for parents and the wider community. They are a force for good despite living in a situation completely out of their control.
“The teachers here speak the same dialect of Arabic as their students (often they're from the same or the neighbouring camp as the children), they get their culture, so nothing gets by them. The teachers are motivated to learn, motivated to be useful, and motivated to be a changing force in their communities.” Nadine - School’s Co-ordinator
The teachers are creating a strong community atmosphere within the settlements and many are looked upon as leaders. These strong relationships between the parents, teachers and other adults in the communities are leading to higher than average attendance and retention rates within the schools. Teachers engage parents in education and to help them to understand the long term benefits for the children.
We’d like to introduce you to four of these teachers, to give you an insight into their work and the amazing things they are achieving.
Halima is a teacher who has taught with us for two years now, and also works as a trainer. She describes her experience in the tent schools:
“Our work is very focused. We work wholesomely, not just to educate the kids but to help them grow into better, more well rounded people. It’s also been really good to learn how to support our student’s growth in learning not to physically abuse each other, and learning about therapeutic methods to deal with what the kids have seen in war; learning about forgiveness.
I’ve gained so much experience, and this job has encouraged me to grow not just as a teacher but also in my passions. I write stories and songs and poetry and use them to give the children more fun, creative resources to learn. As not just a teacher but also a mother to one of the students, I’m so glad that my son can read and write well, especially when I hear about other schools poor levels of education. I really like that we teach the children to make conclusions instead of pointing everything out to them".
The teachers are regularly observed by our experienced teacher trainer whilst teaching a range of lessons and they receive constructive feedback. They are given time to meet and work with colleagues to plan and evaluate sessions and to share best practice. The class helper is also observed and they receive feedback to ensure they are able to enhance the teaching and learning and the overall classroom environment.
One of the newer teachers from the third school, Mariam said:
“It’s really amazing to see the change in our students compared to what they were like in the very beginning. Initially things were so rowdy, but now that some time has passed, they trust us more, they enjoy school and it’s made things better overall.”
Hala particularly likes the games and teaching methods used in the classes and the fact that the students have to discover the point of the lesson by themselves which gives them much more enjoyment. She likes that the teachers interact with the children and that the project and craft sessions regularly rotate, keeping the children interested.
“The teaching style brings out the best in the teachers” she explains “it brings out qualities which are hidden in the Syrian teaching system and strengthens the children’s personalities. In this school environment the children have no fear, they are comfortable and talk a lot. They have the courage to speak and play. They are happy in school and they go home happy. I haven’t met a child who doesn't want to go to school, in fact many don’t want to go home at the end of the day”.
All the teachers are provided with all the materials and resources they need; many they make themselves. Hala enjoys encouraging the children’s creative gifts and feels that through this the children become happy, encouraged and have motivation for life.
“They gain courage to try new things. The children in my class want to be doctors and pilots and some of the girls want to be princesses!” she laughs, “We have some work to do on that one!”.
Omad finished his university degree in Syria and taught grade 9 science for a year before he had to leave for Lebanon. He has been in Lebanon for over 3 years and had found work in a factory. He now also works for the school 3 days a week, but has to continue working in the factory to support his income.
He loves teaching and said that ‘if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t do it!’. He has enjoyed learning the new child-friendly methods of teaching and use of resources. He described how learning to teach in the camp schools and teaching in Syria is very different, the Syrian schools he has worked in have a frozen style of teaching and use rote learning.
He says, “At first when I was asked to attend the teacher training I was offended. I felt I did not need training as I already had my teaching qualifications. However I found the training really useful and learnt a lot of new things about how to involve the children and use resources to help them to learn in a fun way using games and jokes”.
The Syrian refugees we train as teachers for our camp schools in Lebanon receive a regular, reliable income which allows them to care and provide for their families. They all receive training and support to build their knowledge and teaching skills, enabling them to excel in their field. They will also be able to use these transferable skills in the future and are constantly learning from each other and developing their practice.
You can find out more about the schools we support in Lebanon by going to our project page, and if you can, consider a donation to the work here.