The 29th November is #GivingTuesday - the day to do good stuff for charity, straight after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Last year, this global campaign raised £6,000 a minute for UK charities and broke the world record for most amount of money donated online in 24 hours!
This Christmas, and on #GivingTuesday, Children on the Edge need your support for our Season of Hope appeal. Can you make donation and spread the word to help us bring hope to forgotten children this Christmas?
A Season of Hope
The traditional Christmas story is all about hope. Most of us will have seen the nativity or been in a nativity play as a child. Whether you were an angel with tinsel wrapped round your head, or a shepherd donning a tea towel, the message was the same: a tiny baby is born in a manger against the odds, bringing hope and joy to many people. So, for lots of people, Christmas really is a season of hope.
Children on the Edge exists to bring hope, life, colour and fun to some of the most forgotten children across the world today. This Christmas, and on #GivingTuesday we are inviting you to give hope to these children by supporting our Season of Hope appeal.
How we’re bringing hope to children in Uganda
We’re working across a number of small slum communities in Uganda, to help make them safer places for children. In Loco, a slum community housing some of the poorest families near Jinja, conditions are dire. There is a high level of alcohol abuse, which leaves children vulnerable to abuse and neglect. Theft is rampant and there are frequent instances of domestic violence. The nearby nursery school and primary school are both run down and expensive to attend, stopping the most vulnerable children from enrolling.
But thanks to Children on the Edge, things are changing, for the better. We have established Child Protection Teams in Loco, and three other slum areas in Uganda. These teams are working to empower each community to build a protective environment for their children.
They are building relationships with people in their own communities, identifying problem areas and creating a link between people living in the slums and local authorities and services. All of which is having a hugely positive impact and making Loco a safer place for children. Already each team member is full of stories about how they have used their training to intervene in situations of child neglect, abuse, domestic violence and crime.
In January 2016, when we visited Loco, before the Child Protection Team was set up, the people there said they had no hope. But just a few months later, Chizito, the Chairperson of the new Child Protection Team in Loco said:
"The 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 play scheme 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".
Five months on and the centre is built. Not only this, but a class of children from the most vulnerable households in Loco are well into their first term and making incredible progress.
On this years’ #GivingTuesday, we want to take the time to thank all of our supporters who donate to Children on the Edge throughout the year, whether that’s their money, time or ideas. As a small charity, we rely on the support of people like you, who help us continue our work to help some of the world’s most vulnerable children.
Our chums over at Montezuma’s chocolates have just completed an amazing charity fundraising month, raising a whopping £2,137.98 for Children on the Edge.
Throughout October, staff at ‘Chocolate HQ’, as well as in their 6 stores completed a number of different fundraising challenges and activities.
In stores, over the course of a week, customers paid £1 to take part in challenges including: ‘Guess how many buttons in a jar’; ‘Design a chocolate bar’ plus quizzes and other chocolate themed games – all raising £686.29!
At ‘Chocolate HQ’ - the aptly named Montezuma’s Head Office - staff took part in a new challenge every week throughout October, including an ‘Auction of Promises’, where staff offered their skills to other colleagues, for a price. What a great idea! Someone offered their gift wrapping prowess – agreeing to wrap 10 Christmas presents for a colleague. Another agreed to bake a cake, clean a car, do someone’s ironing, along with an offering of a tarot card reading and hair braiding lesson!
Other activities including a chocolate themed staff sports day or ‘Chocolate Olympics’. Teams competed against each other in a (chocolate) egg and spoon race; throwing a bag of buttons as far as they can; a relay race with a chocolate bar as the baton; a ‘balance a chocolate bar on your head’ race and finally a ‘which team can scoff a packet of chocolate buttons the quickest’. For four-year-old Alex who joined in, this was his favourite event!
Don’t worry, staff have also been shedding those chocolate calories on a static bike in the office, The team at Chocolate HQ managed to cycle an impressive 862 miles over the course of the October. Which, according to Google Maps, is the distance between John O’Groats to Lands End, if you take the A9. Well done team! Even better is that, according to the staff, they even did this without much help from their cycling-mad bosses – Helen and Simon!
The total raised throughout the month by staff was £379.70, adding to the £686.29 raised by Montezuma’s stores, plus a generous matched donation by the owners of Montezuma’s themselves took the total to £2,137.98!
This will go such a long way to help fund our work to support some of the worlds most vulnerable children - thank you Montezuma's!
If you have been following our work in Uganda you will know that we have currently been focusing on expanding our Child Protection Team model into three new slum areas surrounding Jinja.
We piloted the use of a Community Child Protection Team (CPT) in Masese II slum (Soweto). When we first began working here, children were extremely vulnerable to neglect, abuse and even child sacrifice. Through building relationships with, and training volunteers in the community, piece by piece we were able to support them in the creation of a protective environment for their children.
Setting up the new teams
Motivated by the success of this pilot, we have expanded the work into three new slums surrounding Jinja - Loco, Masese I and Masese III. Our Children on the Edge Africa team have built relationships in each location and in partnership with the community have identified problem areas.
Babra is a social worker for COTE Africa, she describes how “ Our projects are completely owned by the community. They participate from the start. They identify the problems, they identify the solutions. They are a voice for the voiceless and a link between the community and the institutions that can help”.
To begin to address the issues identified in each area, the team facilitated a series of child protection workshops. After four months of workshops, each community elected a team of ten trusted volunteers to act as the eyes and ears of the children. They have begun training, been provided with simple resources and are already beginning to see transformation in the communities they serve.
First steps towards change
Last month our Communications Officer; Esther Smitheram, visited the newly formed teams to learn about the challenges they are facing and how they are finding solutions in many difficult situations where children are at risk.
In Masese I the team are beginning to put their training into practice. They have been encouraging children to attend school instead of loitering, advising a grandmother headed household on caring for an HIV positive child and supporting a bereaved father in caring for his children.
Sissy, the youngest member of CPT here, has already begun to make a difference. She tells how “There is a mother in the area who sells as a job, she leaves early and comes back late. She leaves her 2 year old in the care of an older sibling, but they just leave the small child on its own all day. Each day at dark the little one starts crying. I waited outside her home for the mother to return. I talked with her kindly about the importance of keeping the little one safe, now she makes sure he is never left alone”.
The Masese III CPT are faced with the challenge of sensitising a community with different cultural values. The largest tribe in this area is the Karamojong, a nomadic people group from northern Uganda. Their culture have a ‘hands off’ approach to childcare, and as soon as a child can walk they are left all day while the mothers work.
Godfrey Rucho is the chairperson of the CPT here, he says “They think nothing of this, as this is how they were treated when they were children, they have not gone to school, they don’t value education. Some parents don’t mind where their children spend the night, the children sleep outside, they don’t care if they are safe or not”.
Consequently the area has very high number of street children. The CPT has begun to work alongside these children and their parents. They have built relationships with key people in the tribe, one of whom has become a member of the CPT. They have already been successful in supporting many children to be reunited with their parents and return home.
Godfrey describes how “It used to be if you tried to talk to a parent they said ‘If you’re so concerned then take them’, but we are hoping that with the help of the Karomojong chairperson and a team member who is Karomojong, we can start to talk to more parents about taking care of the children.”
Loco community is one of the poorest areas around Jinja. The new team here talk about many organisations coming in and promising them the world, only to leave a year later with conditions returning to what they were. Edwin Wannabe, Programmes Director at COTE Africa says “We make it very clear from the start that it is the community themselves that can make a change. We promise very little, our role is to serve them. We then explain that we are just an organisation and they know the community more than we do.”
It is this ownership that creates sustainability. In Loco it took time for the community to believe things could be different, but as they identified their own issues and were resourced and trained to deal with them they begin to see things change.
Talking to the CPT in Loco, Esther describes how “Already each team member is full of stories about how they have used their training to intervene in situations of of child neglect, abuse, domestic violence and crime. They are beginning to form an effective link between the community and the police force, protecting vulnerable people from corruption and ensuring cases are dealt with quickly. Loco is already a safer place for children”.
Chizito, the chairperson of the CPT in Loco says 'The 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’.
Watch this space for regular updates about the new teams and their work. As a result of the success of our pilot and the effectiveness of the current work, we will be writing up the Child Protection Teams as a model. The aim is to roll out this work across some of the most vulnerable communities throughout Uganda, especially those with higher reported levels of child sacrifice.
One year ago we updated you about the progress of the child councils in our Community Schools for working children in Bangladesh. Child councils are an opportunity for children to express their views and those of their classmates. There are six child councils currently running for the 18 different classrooms. Each council has 10 members and meets twice a month, once with their teacher and once with Mamun Rashid who is a project officer on the ground.
These councils are a space where children can give their opinions and suggestions about how the programme is being run, talk about issues that are affecting them, learn about their rights and communicate them to their friends and families.
This time last year, the councils had been running for about 10 months and the children were just starting to speak about some of the changes they would like to see. They were beginning to get to know their classmates in order to find out their feelings on different subjects. At this point they were still very shy and quite hesitant to express their views.
Recently we have visited the project again, and spent the morning with one of the councils. They have now been fully participating for two years and over this time the children have grown tenfold in their confidence. They have also developed a thorough awareness of what a child is, what their rights are and can easily list them off to whoever will listen!
Asked about the benefits of child councils, Mamun said “The time spent in the council is good for the children because they now know about child marriage, child trafficking and child abuse. Without the child councils they wouldn’t know this information. At the beginning they didn't know who was a child or what that meant. Now they understand that it is important and they should be protected. They know that the law protects them”.
Awareness of trafficking and abduction is developed in different ways, sometimes with role play, testing them with offers of sweets and chocolate to which the children reply a resounding ‘NO!’. A big part of their role on the council is to then take this information and communicate it to their classmates and friends. One council member called Saliha said “Whatever we learn from child councils we can express to our neighbours, they thank us and so it is good for me.”
When asked how their lives have changed since being on the child councils. Nayeem, aged 10 said “ Before we joined we didn't know about abuse, trafficking and child marriage. Now we can raise our voices, we can make requests and we can discuss our problems with the teachers and Mr Mamun and get some solutions. Also we are more important!”.
Members of the council take an active role in helping students who are struggling with their school work through an after-school tutoring club. Rehena, aged 11 says “I like being able to teach another student, like I am a teacher!”. If a student doesn’t arrive for lessons, they will find out if they are okay. The children also discuss any problems their friends might have, whether in school, their family or elsewhere. If anything arises from these conversations they bring it to the child council meeting to share. Depending on what the situation is, our local partners might refer the child for counselling, involve the teacher, local family planning agency or village development committee.
On a more practical level, the councils discuss how the schools are running and make suggestions or requests for various changes. This can be everyday things like school maintenance, repairs and furniture, or it can be finding solutions to challenges students face in the classroom.
So far they have procured benches instead of floor mats for classrooms, ceiling fans for hot days, increased the number of playtime facilities and equipment, ensured a supply of daily nutritious snacks, arranged a singing and drawing teacher, persuaded planners to build a new school with brick rather than bamboo and taken on the responsibility of developing outdoor garden areas!
From a more social level they have a strong influence in their classes, preventing their fellow students from being disturbed if another child is being distracting, or even making sure that their friends get home safely and are safe from bullying. They’ve also asked staff members to address some problems arising from having age differences within the same class.
Finally, the councils collect stories, art, and poems for the quarterly newsletter. The children help choose which pieces are most worthwhile for publication. This newsletter is proving to be very popular with all the students across the nine schools, and is also being shared with local agencies and government departments. There is more interest than available space for the publishing of poems, art, and articles written by the students. Saiful, aged 9 says “I like being able to collect the stories and poems from my friends, it gives me happiness.”
International Director, Rachel Bentley says “We have a strong focus on developing child participation in all the organisations we support. Giving children a voice is a central part of what we believe in as a child rights organisation and we’re delighted to see how this is progressing with the child councils in Bangladesh.”
Read about the work we do in Bangladesh providing education for working children
Could you help contribute to this work by selling our ‘Season of Hope’ wrapping paper?
Want to take on a challenge to support these children? Find out more.
For a quick donation simply text EDGE16 and your amount (£1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10) to 70070.
This Christmas, following the success of our 2015 ‘All Wrapped Up’ appeal, we’ve launched 'A Season of Hope' – our 2016 gift wrap appeal!
We’ve produced some beautiful ‘Season of Hope’ gift wrap, and all the profits go towards our projects on the ground, helping children in desperate circumstances.
We are inviting you to give hope to the children we work with by simply wrapping up your gifts and encouraging others to do the same.
In early September unprecedented water levels created destruction across Bihar State, India, with 213 people killed, 2190 villages underwater and thousands of people displaced to relief camps.
In this area we support a number of education projects for Dalit children and at the time we launched an appeal to help our local partners (Navjeevan Educational & Social Welfare Society) who were heavily involved in the relief effort.
Thanks to the generosity of our donors we were able to contribute to the work of Navjeevan who focussed on providing for immediate basic needs (i.e food and clothes) and worked to link affected families with government and non-government organisations for further help and support.
Not only this, but because our partners work in education, they engaged local school children in helping with the packing of relief materials ready for distribution and spent some time sensitising local young people about the suffering of the flood victims, motivating them to help. This had incredible results.
Sister Veena who leads Navjeevan said “Motivating the youth of the locality and inspiring them to actively participate in the relief work reduced the corruption at different levels, because they demanded that the government provided for those affected by the flood, and it reached people”.
The young people worked together to mobilise the politicians to contribute. They secured funds for food, and feed for animals owned by the families affected. To protect livelihoods, every family with animals was given one sack of food and medicine for the animals. The youth group also got permission to use government land to make temporary sheds for livestock.
After one protest at a government office they ensured 6000 rupees for each family affected in one block, then they went to a relief camp in the same area and asked the government to provide police protection for the people there. They also requested a free boat service for flood victims who were being exploited by those who owned private boats and were charging high fares for their use. As a result, there was both a government and a military boat service provided.
Sister Veena says “Children and youth, if motivated will act promptly and generously. Everyone has something to give. We encouraged children at one of our Centres to give what they could for the flood victims.… Almost all the children contributed biscuits, rice, potato, dal, etc. One child who is very poor and only has three shirts, brought his best shirt to give to the children affected by the flood. It was very moving and challenging”.
Children on the Edge is a child rights based organisation and we work to encourage child participation in all our work. This is a great example of what children can achieve when they are given the resources and the opportunity to make a difference.