Kyaka II refugee settlement, close to the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has approximately 700 new arrivals each week over 65% of which are children. Having fled armed conflict, ebola, and horrific human rights abuses, many suffer extreme trauma as a result of witnessing the brutality of war and displacement. They face serious child protection risks and have nowhere safe to go during the day.
The youngest refugee children need support
A number of NGOs are providing primary education in Kyaka II, but early years education provision is limited for the youngest children, at a vital time in their development. Our assessment showed a need for up to 30 Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres across 30 communities within the settlement.
In these communities, local people are doing the best they can to provide early years learning, but provision and resources are variable at best. While some communities are doing well, with Centres in a relatively good state of repair, others have non-existent provision and broken down venues that are not fit for purpose. Many Centres lack consistent quality teacher training, or well established community ownership. Without this, trained teachers have no incentive to use their training locally, and leave to find jobs in other areas of Uganda, and communities have no support or resources to maintain provision.
Resourcing communities to provide early years education
Through training and targeted resourcing, we aim to support 30 refugee communities in Kyaka II camp, to replicate our model of best practice, ensuring high quality, cost effective ECD for their children.
With multiple conflicts stretching across vast areas of the country, The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is one of the world’s most complex and long-standing humanitarian situations.
Civilians here are exposed to gross human rights violations, sexual and gender-based violence, chronic malnutrition, and various health epidemics including the serious spread of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
“We didn’t believe the CPT at first, when they kept on telling us that change was coming, but the area really has changed for the better.”
- Justine, Masese II
This time last year, we began a process where communities could come together and evaluate the changes that have happened in their lives that year. Each group spends time listening to each other's stories, then they vote for the one they feel is the most significant.
Last year, discussions focussed on the positive impact of the loans and savings groups. What came through was a sense of hope for the future and many individuals described feeling happier, gaining confidence and having pride.
In the last few months, these four communities (Masese I, II, III and Loco) have repeated the process, to evaluate how individuals and communities are being affected by the work of the Child Protection Teams (CPTs).
These are some of the highlights for 2018:
Better health and hygiene
A safer environment for children, at home and in the community
This was a strong theme across all the stories, with people talking about improvement in parenting through workshops and support. Children described how they were no longer neglected and how they now felt protected and loved by their parents, many of whom reported that the workshops helped them realise they hadn’t been caring for their children properly.
Outside the home, neighbourhood watch schemes have helped with the return of many missing and kidnapped children. There have been thwarted abduction attempts and a reduction in the occurrence of child abuse. On the 3rd February 2019, kidnappers stole Raymond’s three year old daughter from his home. The perpetrators gave up, as the community immediately sounded the alarm, and the girl was rescued. Raymond says “Had it not been for the CPT instilling a ‘community watch’ for local people, telling us that everyone counts, and that every alarm is for a reason, my daughter would be no more”.
Education loans are having an impact
Loans were a popular topic last year, and this year was no different, but what became even more prominent were examples of how the loans are having an impact on the children themselves.
Barbara is 12 years old and explained how “We used to sleep like soldiers as we had nothing to cover ourselves. In the day we walked around Masese III almost naked and other children would always laugh at us. Since my mother started her charcoal business we now have some bedding, we are assured of a daily meal and through the little money that she earns, she has been able to send me and my brother to school”.
Children are leading and having a voice
Younger voices were featured more in this year’s stories, because younger people are now more active through the activities of the Child Rights Clubs in Loco and Masese I. After a session on rights and responsibilities facilitated by the CPT in Masese I, Harriet said “After this, the community children felt more protected, as before no adult took time to listen to their views”.
These stories are a tiny reflection of an overwhelming amount of the examples shared and the hundreds of lives changed, all through the dedication of forty local volunteers, across four communities. To support this work further, just click the buttons below.
Aisha, one of our Child Protection Team members in Uganda has recently been elected as Secretary for Women's Affairs for the local Jinja authorities. This is the first time someone in her area has been elected, who has such a broad knowledge and understanding of women’s and children’s issues.
Our local partners in Uganda have a strong focus on ensuring opportunities for women. Many women, like Aisha, are involved in the running of our Child Protection Teams.
Aisha has been volunteering as the Chairperson of the Masese II Child Protection Team for over six years. Working with our local partners, Children on the Edge Africa, we support five slum communities around Jinja to create protective environments for their children through these Teams. They are made up of 10 elected and trained local volunteers work closely with their communities.
What do the Child Protection Teams do?
Child Protection Teams have become the ‘go-to’ for their communities because of the dedicated work they accomplish on behalf of vulnerable children. As a result, they have quickly become the first port of call not only with residents but also with the local authorities. Lost children are often brought to the teams by local people when found wandering, sometimes miles from home.
As Secretary for Women's Affairs, Aisha is now leading a team of five people and is confident that becoming the Secretary for Women’s Affairs will strengthen the work of the Child Protection Team in her community even further.
Aisha said: “Those who hide after violating the rights of women and children are now more afraid, because they know am the community member’s representative as both a Child Protection Team Chairperson and a council leader, recognised by local government".
Aisha puts this knowledge down to working with Children on the Edge, saying “I have taken this office with lot of hands on experience of both women’s and children’s issues because Children on the Edge Africa embraced our Child Protection Teams as their very own right from the start. They gave us training and helped us with networking. There was a tremendous improvement in terms of our case management”.
We're delighted for Aisha and can't wait to hear about her progress in the role.
Read more about our work with slum communities in Uganda. and how we're bringing vital change.
Less than two months away from the opening date of our new Early Childhood Development Centre in Wandago, Uganda, we look at how we developed a model for best practice and why we’re ready to replicate.
The model we have created together with Children on the Edge Africa in Loco Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centre, has been developed in partnership with Madrasa ECD Programme, who have over 25 years of experience in developing an approach that makes a real difference in children’s cognitive development and later success in school.
In conjunction with our own 28 years of experience working with vulnerable children and the use of our Child Protection Team model, this approach has produced a successful blueprint of best practice ECD, that is ready to replicate to new and different areas.
Supporting around 70 children aged 3-6 a year, the Centre is currently being considered for designation as a centre for excellence in the Eastern Region.
1. Community ownership
Loco Child Protection Team (CPT) work to identify the most vulnerable households, ensuring their children benefit from education. They encourage local families on the importance of education through a number of events (see photos above), meetings and celebrations, provide small business loans and support parents throughout the term, ensuring high retention rates.
2. Local culture
Teachers work to establish which language is most commonly used amongst Centre intake and adapt materials accordingly. They draw upon available local resources through all areas of teaching and learning, and focus on the strengths of local culture and values.
3. Quality child friendly curriculum
We use the Ugandan ECD Framework which was developed in consultation with UNICEF and Madrasa, which is a detailed curriculum of five core areas and an assessment framework to ensure children are learning and developing. Instead of rote learning, a regular day at the Centre will feature songs, dances, craft and games.
4. Health and socialisation
The Centre helps children to deal with routines, develop great friendships and improve behaviour so they can transition well to primary school. Regular health checks pick up concerns including malnutrition, which is addressed by the provision of high calorie porridge and nutritious snacks. Children arrive clean and washed and teachers focus on health and hygiene with songs, rhymes and regular hand washing routines.
It has resulted in improved:
1. Educational progress
We have seen core skills and learning improve significantly, with primary school teachers reporting that where young children previously started at primary school with no reading or writing knowledge and no means of coping within a classroom environment, now they arrive prepared to learn at the right level.
2. Valuing of education
The relationship between the teachers and the Loco CPT has yielded tremendous results in terms of attendance, with regular meetings encouraging parents on the importance of their children’s education.
3. Child Protection
Child Protection Teams have been key in ensuring that child protection cases are followed up, bridging the gap between the Centre and the parents. They follow up on cases identified by the teachers and often make home visits to ensure children are safe.
4. Health and Socialisation
After a few months of being at the Centre, children were visibly clean and healthy, despite being on the edge of malnutrition when they started. The external evaluation also identified huge progress with the socialisation of the children, with a teacher reporting that “Children’s discipline has changed. The way our children behave is not the way other children in the community who don’t access ECD or who attend other ECD Centres behave”.
We are hopeful that over time, this model Centre will become a training centre where Congolese teachers from this area can come to learn and develop their teaching skills, and improve the quality of early childhood education for refugee children across the region.
Over 90% of our small business loan recipients in Uganda now feed their children better and send them to school
Education loans are small business loans given via the CPTs to the most vulnerable households, enabling them to create a source of income which covers the costs of providing for their children and sending them to school.
After the most needy households are identified, people are invited to attend a series of training workshops, which include a focus on saving, small business training and opportunities to form self help groups.
These ‘education loans’ have gone from strength to strength, with an external evaluation in September 2017 stating how loans have ”boosted the economic capacity of respective households to meet their needs such as education, food [and] medical care…”
To receive the loan, a prospective business owner will make a business plan and write an application with support from the CPT. They are given a timeframe within which to pay it back, by which time they have a thriving business, a child in school and a good knowledge of how to manage their own finances.
The external report included feedback from many recipients including a mother from Masese III who said “I thank God for bringing Children on the Edge, because I was really struggling but they gave me 200,000 Ugandan shillings and I am now able to educate my children, buy books, feed my children and even pay rent. Although there has been a problem with hunger in the community, my situation has not been as bad as it would have been without Children on the Edge support. That capital helped me to start a small business where I sell tomatoes and silver fish”.
Repaid loans are then available to be passed on to someone else in need. With recipients paying a little interest, the loan pot can gradually grow, in order to help an increasing number of households. The repayment of the loan with a little interest also teaches business and budgeting skills, rather than dependency, and makes the fund itself sustainable.
A community evaluation of the ‘Most Significant Changes’ in the area, facilitated in January 2018 showed how the development of a ‘savings culture’ had significantly improved the financial status of those involved. Robina from Masese II described how “I was able to start saving as well as reserve some money to send my five children to school, provide them with basic needs and scholastic materials. So basically I am happy because my children are back to school and I can provide for the family needs as a single parent.”
The workshops introduce the benefits of saving and give hints and tips on how to put money aside, even through times of financial stress. Each person attending has a trial period of demonstrating they can save money and budget, before they are given their first loan.
Over 90 people are currently participating in the loan scheme, nearly half of whom are supporting five or more children. Not only have over half these people increased their savings, but an incredible 92% have reported that they are now able to feed their children twice a day. 93% are also now able to send their children to school, maintaining regular attendance.
Find out more about the difference these loans make in people’s lives by reading Lydia and Irene’s stories. Just click their images below:
"My grandchildren have a provider, who has stepped into their father’s shoes since he’s gone" - Irene finds hope for her grandchildren through small business loan.
She used to live alone after her two children grew up and left to start their own families. She mainly survived on the support her son Godfrey provided, though once in a while she did casual work like laundry or helping in people’s fields to earn some extra income. Through this time, she always had an idea of starting up a vegetable business, but had limited funds which weren’t sufficient enough even for her basic needs.
Tragically, her son Godfrey died, and Irene took on his children, as their mother had divorced Godfrey and disappeared a few years before. At this time, Irene realised that she had not only had the responsibility of taking care of these children, but with her son gone, she was the only earner.
Despite her interest in starting up a vegetable business, she was still limited by a lack of capital. During this crisis she began to talk with Joyce, who had started her own business through the Children on the Edge education loan programme. She introduced Irene to the local Child Protection Team, who in turn introduced her to the loans officer.
After an assessment, Irene was was given a loan of 200,000 Ugandan shillings, which she used to start up the long wished for vegetable stall beside her house. Edwin Wanabe, Programme Director for Children on the Edge Africa said “Irene’s business is doing well. It is from this that she is able to provide for her grandchildren’s basic needs and education. She is very grateful for the great support given to her. She often expresses her joy by telling our loan’s officer how she has hope that, through the business, her grandchildren have a provider, who has stepped into their father’s shoes since he’s gone”.
For a time all her profits had to go towards his medical treatment, which suffocated the business and caused Lydia to begin to lose hope. Through talks with her fellow CPT members, our social worker and the loans officer, she was encouraged to apply for a loan to invest into her collapsing trade.
The loan soon reawakened her profits, enabling her to not only pay her husband’s treatment costs, but also take care of the household needs and pay school fees for her children.
Lydia said “I am extremely happy that amidst the challenges that befall me, I still picked up courage and invested the loan money in my struggling Matooke business, which was almost collapsing. This enabled me grow my business from buying two bunches to four, and I am really grateful because this has uplifted my household income”.
When a young 17-year-old mother in Uganda had a visitor to her Masese III home, she was having a normal morning caring for her new baby. Agnes’ boy was just a month old and she was still getting used to looking after him.
The lady arrived in her doorway, acting like an old friend. Neighbours said that she had been looking for a girl that had just had a baby, so they assumed it must be Agnes. The woman said she wanted to change some money and didn’t know where, so she asked Agnes to go and change it for her, promising that she would give some of the money as a gift for the baby.
Agnes left the baby in the house and went to change the money. Whilst she was gone, the neighbours observed the woman looking around her and intently peering through the curtains of the house, but did not question it, assuming she was a friend.
When Agnes returned, the woman then said she had a job offer for her, so Agnes quickly fed and bathed the baby and they set off together. On the way, the woman said that she had left her phone in Agnes’ room, so Agnes asked her to hold the child for her and ran back. When she got back to the room there was no phone and when she returned to where she had left the woman, she had disappeared with the baby.
Agnes and her partner Najid were frantic, and went to find Godfrey, the chairperson of their local Child Protection Team (CPT). He went immediately to the police and to the local radio station to appeal for help, but the search yielded nothing.
A week went by for the parents, while members of the CPT kept in touch with the police. One morning word came that a baby had appeared in a neighbouring community under suspicious circumstances. The police mounted a search and rescued Agnes and Najid’s son from the stranger. Just when they thought their ordeal was over however, the police requested a DNA test before they would let them take their son home, and insisted that they pay 245,000 Ugandan shillings for the privilege.
There was no way the young couple could afford this. Weeks started to go by where they were separated from their son (he had been cared for in an orphanage since his rescue) and they could do nothing. The CPT stepped in again and accompanied them to negotiate with the police. For 24 hours the CPT members negotiated with the police, showing official letters and speaking to different departments. At the end of this time, the baby was finally returned to his parents.
It was later revealed that the woman who took the baby had lied to her partner who had been deployed in Somalia with the Uganda People’s Defence Force. She had told him she was pregnant so he would send her money, then when he came back a year later, expecting to see a child of around two months, she decided to try and steal a baby.
Masese III community is largely made up of people from the Karamajong community, who come from the north of the country where the soldier was from. The woman had specifically targeted this area to find a baby that would look convincing.
On the day Agnes was reunited with her son she said "I am very happy that I have finally found my son. The lady who stole him thought since am a young girl I would be easily fooled but I am very grateful to the CPT, because if it wasn't for them, trust me, we wouldn't have got this far in rescuing him."
The Child Protection Teams we support in the slum communities around Jinja describe themselves as ‘the eyes, ears and mouths of the children they work to protect’. This story is a great example of how they work to bring children to safety and build a bridge between the community and local services.
Nakku Sarah had a busy day planned when she was approached by the Officer in Charge at Masese I Police post. She has been a member of the local Child Protection Team in her area since it was set up in 2016. These groups of 10 elected and trained local volunteers work closely with their communities to create a safer environment for children in the slum areas around Jinja town.
Lost children are often brought to the teams by local people when found wandering, sometimes miles from home. Child Protection Teams have become the ‘go-to’ for their communities because of the dedicated work they accomplish on behalf of vulnerable children. Reflecting the quality of this work, they have quickly become the first port of call not only with residents but also with the local authorities.
That morning, the Officer told Sarah that they had a young boy left with them at the station, and no idea how to find his parents. A particular challenge to identifying his family and the whereabouts of his home, was communicating with the boy who is deaf, cannot speak and struggles to walk.
Sarah immediately agreed to begin tracing the boy’s parents. She notified the rest of the Child Protection Team who met to plan a way forward, in that meeting they focussed on engaging the community to see if anyone knew the family.
She said, “It was a really challenging moment for me, meeting a stranded child with many disabilities. While leaving the police post I kept on wondering what to do! But I am very grateful that as a team we were able to forge a way forward”.
After spending hours interviewing local people, the search did not turn out to be fruitful. Undeterred, the team approached ‘Kodheyo’; one of the local television station, and requested a five minute slot to show the boy and appeal to the public to help in finding his family. As a result, by the next day the boy’s family made contact with the Child Protection Team and the police reunited them with their son.
Sarah described how “Being a CPT member, I had to pick up my courage, because all I had to do that day was work for the betterment of this child’s life. I had to forego everything I had planned and help the child. I doubt whether I could have gone that extra mile had I not been a CPT member. From that day I realised that the way I look and address child protection has changed”.
A few weeks later, it was the Masese III Child Protection Team who were called on to help with a similar case. A missing girl ended up at the Central Police Station in Jinja town, and said she was from Masese III. After meeting the child, and conducting neighbourhood enquires, the team quickly found her parents, and were delighted to reunite the family.
Success stories like this are a result of teams working over months and years to forge a healthy connection between the community and the police. This work often takes the form of workshops and meetings, and has created a greater understanding, openness and trust between between local people and nearby services.
Find out more about the work of the Child Protection Teams in Uganda and support this work by clicking the buttons below.
Chichester Half Marathon
Early Childhood Development
Kyaka II Uganda
The Body Shop At Home