Following our initial humanitarian response to the Rohingya refugee situation, and alongside our provision of education for 7,500 children, we have worked in line with Bangladesh Government strategy by contributing to sustainable energy sources in the Kutupalong Balukhali camp.
The hundreds of thousands of refugees seeking safety in this country have had little choice but to overburden the surrounding jungles in the Ukhiya hills. The Bangladesh Forestry Department has stated that the weight and rate of the influx has created an environmental crisis in the border district. Stripping away 4,000 acres of dense forest land; miles of tarpaulin and dust as far as the eye can see, has now formed the largest refugee camp in the world.
Ongoing fuel needs for the one million people trapped here vastly escalates this problem each day. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation Forestry Officer describes how “An average 1 kg of fuelwood per person is required every day for cooking, which corresponds to 800 tonnes of fuelwood per day for the Rohingya refugees in the camps. This means that forest covering an area roughly the size of five football fields is cut every day for fuelwood”.
Most staple food rations distributed here consist of lentils, beans and rice, which have to be cooked in order to be edible. Almost all families rely on small fires, often used in poorly ventilated spaces, but with prohibitive prices for market firewood, most attempt to gather it from the nearby forest. Children are often sent to collect firewood alone and, with disappearing reserves, trips of up to 12 miles each way can now take the entire day. To attempt to save firewood, some people undercook their food or skip meals.
As part of our discussions with local authorities when planning our Learning Centres in the camp, we agreed to source and distribute 500 gas stoves in the surrounding areas. This has provided around 3,500 people with a sustainable means of cooking and the Centres are being used as bases to provide training to use the stoves.
In addition to this, earlier in the year we provided high quality, portable solar lights to 5,250 homes. The Kutupalong-Balukhali expansion site is vast and remains mostly unlit. This heightens risks for everyone, but especially for girls and women who have often reported feeling unsafe going out after dark.
As well as issues of safety and functionality at night, the lights also help to curb the use of firewood. Mohammed (pictured below) and his family used to build a fire to try and create some light in the evenings, but the wood was too expensive and smoke poured into the shelter. Since he’s been using the light he has said “It’s better for my family. Now we can cook and clean in the evening, it gives light to the whole room”.
We have recently planted shrubs and flowers in the grounds outside each Learning Centre to begin to grow green oasis areas for the children within the barren landscape of the camp. In time we are hoping to grow vegetables in these spaces and raise funds for solar powered fans to cool the atmosphere inside.
Find out more about the Learning Centres and click the buttons below to get involved.
In the last few months, Child Protection Teams in Uganda have been called upon by police to trace two families of children stranded at local stations.
Find out more about the work we support in India, and consider getting more involved by clicking one of the action buttons below.
"To be here and to help children is a great success after we have lost everything" - Over 50 Learning Centres open their doors for Rohingya refugee children
Watch this space for more news from the Centres. New classrooms are being built every day and we are progressing well in our aim to provide education for 7,500 children in the camp.
The tent school teaching staff we support in Lebanon have been increasingly observing how Syrian refugee children in their classes struggle with creativity in their writing. Project Worker Hannah McNair explained how “When learning their own Arabic language in Syria, teaching tends to focus on grammar and not on creative storytelling”.
One activity to address this was introduced by a visiting volunteer, who used an old, crumpled ten dollar note. She asked the children where they thought she had got it from and talked about how, judging by how it looked, it must have had a very long journey. She then passed it to one of the children and encouraged them to make up a story about where they had got it, the background of who had owned it before, and how they might have earned it.
“This was a great way of encouraging out-of-the-box thinking in writing” said Hannah. “Creative, imaginative thinking is a new concept to so many of our students. We’ve also noticed in the Syrian culture, they don’t often read books or stories”.
To encourage a love of stories, two ‘storytelling training sessions’ have been held for all the teachers. They then got the chance to practice what they had learned and tell stories to their classes in teams. The students enjoyed giving feedback on their storytelling abilities, and discussions were had about how using adjectives can generate excitement in writing, in the same way a film builds tension with background music.
Hannah says “Reading stories is really helpful in capturing the students’ attention and encouraging them to read and learn about different people and contexts”. To develop this, the older children have been visiting a newly established library, to choose a book each week and help with the upkeep. Every Friday, the class reports on what they have borrowed, reviewing each book and describing if and why they would recommend it. The younger classes also take turns talking to their friends about the stories they have read.
During the winter of 2017, we appealed to our supporters to help many internally displaced families in Syria to survive the freezing conditions they were facing. Our partners in Lebanon (Triumphant Mercy) crossed the border, providing food and fuel to 150 families in the eastern suburbs of Damascus.
Since this time, they have continued to work with these communities, responding to the humanitarian, educational and health needs as best they can. For the last few years, Syria has been closed to most outsiders. Only Lebanese nationals have had free access, and crossing the border takes no more than 15 minutes.
The early distributions in 2017 were coupled with home visits, listening to people who felt they had lost hope. Many people expressed that they felt abandoned by the world, and at this point our partners began supporting children here to access education. Over 70 children were sponsored to go to school including transportation, books and materials.
The area where we are focussing our support is Jaramana, south of Damascus. The city is an hour from the recently attacked town of Douma and less than a mile from the battleground of Ghouta. The intensity of the violence here has made it temporarily impossible for our partners to access the area, but they have a team of Syrians, working there on their behalf, until they can return.
Through exploring the needs of communities here, it was found that many children are without parental care, living and sleeping on the streets. There was also an identified rise in drug addictions, domestic violence and crime.
Nuna Matar who leads the work of Triumphant Mercy says, “Though we are deeply concerned with this escalation of violence, we also know that we cannot just sit with hands folded, watching people suffering without any hope”.
Within Jaramana we are currently supporting work to build relationships and support networks, including youth groups and women’s forums. To help people here more effectively, Triumphant Mercy have started the process of officially registering as an NGO within Syria. They are currently looking for suitable rented space to open their first community centre, which can be used as a safe place for women and a shelter for children to have daily meals and activities.
The hope for this centre is that, in time, it will be able to welcome and support every part of the community.
Sign up to make monthly donations to support work like this, and find out more about our partner’s work with Syrian refugees in Lebanon, by clicking the buttons below.
We're looking for 10 individuals who love a challenge, to join our Children on the Edge Tough Mudder team. The team will need to take on the infamous Tough Mudder Half on the 22nd September 2018, at Holmbush Farm and help fundraise for our work with vulnerable children around the world.
What is Tough Mudder?
The Tough Mudder Half is a 5-mile, mud covered course with 13 epic obstacles, designed to put your strength, stamina and mental grit to the test. The London South Tough Mudder offers a uniquely challenging experience, designed by engineers who trek the globe looking for creative and testing obstacles, meaning that no two Tough Mudder courses are the same.
Team work is key
You’ll also need teamwork and camaraderie to make it through the muddy challenge, so be sure to choose your Children on the Edge team mates wisely. It could be formed of friends, family or work colleagues; all we ask is you commit to fundraising a minimum of £250 each for the work we do.
Why take on Tough Mudder for Children on the Edge?
As part of the Children on the Edge Team you’ll be getting muddy to help support some of the world’s most vulnerable children. Children on the Edge exists to help marginalised and forgotten children, who are living on the edge of their societies. These are children without parental care, neglected or persecuted by their governments, ignored by international media and missed by large overseas agencies. We work to support these children in realising their rights and to restore the ingredients of a full childhood generating hope, life, colour and fun.
You won’t be alone in your fundraising because we’ll be supporting you every step of the way. We’ll also provide you with a fundraising pack full of ideas to maximise your sponsorship.
As an extra reward for your hard work on the day, the Children on the Edge Tough Mudder Team will receive lots of goodies including; a finishers T-shirt, a free lunch and for our top fundraisers we’ll be sharing some of our Mini-Mudder passes, for children to take part in their very own Mini-Mudder course.
If you think you have what it takes for this muddy challenge and can help restore hope, life, colour and fun to the children we support, then apply here.
Children from the Learning Centres we support in Bihar State, India joined with hundreds of their local friends this week, to demonstrate in Patna about the need for greater protection.
Recent cases in the media, highlighting incidents of child rape and murder, prompted the children to come out in force and call for a safer environment. They also chose to highlight issues like dowry, the halting of higher education for girls and the need for greater gender equality.
The children lined the roadsides, carrying placards and singing motivational songs. In a striking expression of their solidarity, 500 children from eight different schools, held hands in a kilometre long human chain, appealing to adults to pay more attention to safeguarding children and their rights.
Sr Veena who leads the work in the urban slums of Patna said, “We need to sensitise and educate adults to create a child-safe environment. The purpose of the human chain was to call upon all our neighbours in the wider community to be alert to issues of child protection and children’s rights”.
Veena and her team have ongoing gender equality programmes as part of their work with Dalit children in the slums of Patna. They have seen significant change in the attitudes towards girls, and made many steps towards their protection and encouragement.
Stay in touch with stories like this and consider making a donation by clicking the links below.
David Isaac Lewis, a primary school music teacher from London, has taken on the challenge of the Hackney Half Marathon to raise funds for Children on the Edge.
David is currently studying for a Masters in the Sociology of Childhood and Child Rights at University College London. Having felt disheartened by his observations of the larger charity sector and the big NGO approach, his lecturer introduced him to Children on the Edge. David did a little research and described how “It’s refreshing to find that Children on the Edge are small and humble, with transparency in their work”.
Spurred on to become involved, David entered his local half marathon, the Hackney Half. He initially planned on raising a very impressive £500 to help support our work with refugee children but was overwhelmed by the amount of people wanting to sponsor him. With 5 weeks to go he has already toppled his initial goal of £500 and now hopes to raise over a £1,000 with the help of his school, friends and family. £1,000 covers all the costs of educating five Syrian refugee children in a tent school for a year in Lebanon, so David’s fundraising will make a huge difference to the vulnerable children we support.
With all the extra support David’s been getting, he is really beginning to enjoy the challenge and says he feels immensely proud of the charity. He loves to tell those who donate exactly how the funds are spent. David admits he isn’t a natural at running but is taking on the Half Marathon as an opportunity to start a healthier lifestyle and is finding the whole process very rewarding.
David hopes others will be encouraged by his fundraising saying, “Raising money for a cause that you find important is something so worthwhile. It even helps you set your own goals, like being healthy, all the while achieving something amazing for those that need help.”
If you have a challenge you would like to take on to help raise funds for vulnerable children, let us know by emailing email@example.com or visit our Challenges page where we have lots of exciting opportunities for you to get involved in.
Despite record-breaking hot weather, our two runners this year managed to complete the London Marathon and raise almost £4,000 for Children on the Edge.
We spoke to one of our champion fundraisers; 5-time marathon runner James Watkins this morning to catch up on the special (and sweltering) London Marathon. He said, “It was just brilliant, the crowds were cheering harder than ever, the atmosphere was incredible”. Having ran in marathon events before, James described this year as particularly spectacular, with the heat only encouraging the supporters who lined the race track.
While James had been battling freezing conditions through his snowy winter training, he admitted that Sunday was “not a day for running”. The heat left thousands of runners struggling to finish what was the hottest London Marathon day on record. James said, “I saw people dropping from the heat, I thought today is not the day I’ll get my personal best, I just need to make it to the end”.
Keeping hydrated and persevering, James made it to the end where he was met by his wife and thousands of incredible supporters in an amazing time of 4hrs 27mins. Despite James not getting his ‘personal best’ time, he was overjoyed to have been part of a monumental day as part of the Children on the Edge team.
Fellow fundraiser Michael Pearce (Mikey), completed the course in an impressive 3hrs 45mins. Despite this being slower than his expected time, he had a great experience. Mikey described how “The crowds were amazing, the best in the world I’m told, and they helped me through the tough miles. My motivation in those miles came from the many generous people who have and continue to sponsor me. I also considered some of the tough lives that the children who Children on the Edge work with have”.
Children on the Edge want to say a massive thank you to all our marathon runners over the last few weeks, including those in who ran in Paris, Brighton and London. Together these runners have raised over £8,000 for the work we do with vulnerable and forgotten children across the world.
Mikey is hanging up his running trainers, but is recommending that others get involved. He said, “I would encourage everyone to take on a challenge that makes you focus on goal and to use that opportunity to raise money and awareness of charities like Children on the Edge”. You start out on this by clicking the buttons below.