On the 20th June each year, the world commemorates the strength, courage, and resilience of millions of refugees. Around the world more than 50 million people have fled their homes, and over half of these are children.
The refugee children we work with in Lebanon, Bangladesh and Myanmar all show great strength, courage and resilience every day, surviving in some of the toughest places around the world. On World Refugee Day 2019, we wanted to take the time to share some of their thoughts and experiences.
Each year, our flagship fundraising event, the Chichester Half Marathon Event raises thousands of pounds for our work with vulnerable children around the world.
We organise the event in partnership with Everyone Active and it's only possible with the kind support of our local sponsors Store Property and Montezuma's Chocolate. We've been running the event for the past seven years, and all proceeds from the race go to support our work. The event has raised over £120,000 so far!
All our runners, just by entering the race, are supporting Children on the Edge. But for those who want to go the extra mile, we encourage them to raise money for us as they run.
This year, we're looking for 100 runners to raise £100 for our work with refugee children as part of our Run for Refugees Team. Could you join our Team?
Only 13.4% of Ugandan children are enrolled in pre-primary education. This drops to 6.7% or children from the poorest households. Primary completion rate has declined from 60 per cent in 2001–2005 to about 55 per cent in 2011–2015. Save the Children state that one in four families cannot afford to visit a health facility or buy medication and 29% of children under five suffer stunting.
Half the population in Uganda are under 15 years old (the world average is 27%). Human Rights Watch estimate that over 56% of Uganda’s 37 million people are under the age of 18 and are the single largest demographic group living in poverty. UNICEF Uganda estimate that 55% of children aged 0–4 in Uganda live in poverty and 24% live in extreme poverty.
Why work in Jinja?
Slum communities surrounding Jinja in Eastern Uganda face a myriad of challenges. Located on the eastern bank of the Nile, around 20,000 people are crowded into eight slum areas.
As a result of the construction of the Owen Falls Dam (a hydroelectric power station) the presence of a railway line to Kenya (Uganda Railways Corporation) and the access to lake waters, Jinja initially grew into a premier industrial hub. However, during the political instability under the presidency of Idi Amin (1971-79) much of its economic base collapsed and the area was left with widespread unemployment and poverty.
Like all local governments in Uganda, Jinja depends heavily on the central government for revenues, but the funds are rarely enough to pay for the staff and services necessary to keep up with growth. In the slum areas, this has resulted in endemic poverty, destructive livelihoods, poor hygiene and sanitation. Crime rates are high and there is a lack of access to rights and services.
Women around Jinja are particularly at risk, with a prevalence of HIV/AIDS resulting in single mother, child and grandparent headed households. High levels of alcoholism often lead to domestic violence and abuse.
Child sacrifice has become a growing problem in Uganda. The practice is rooted in traditional beliefs, and a number of socio-economic and cultural factors (poverty, weak legislation and poor parenting) have been put forth by analysts to explain the sudden increase in its occurrence. Specific legislation and grassroots awareness and training is needed to eradicate the problem.
All these challenges have led to unsafe environments for children, leaving them vulnerable to maltreatment, neglect, exploitation and child sacrifice. Facing these problems for years, the hard-pressed communities around Jinja have struggled against a growing sense of apathy and a lack of hope to see change.
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're delighted to share that fundraisers running the Brighton Marathon and London Marathon this year have raised an incredible £8000 for Children on the Edge.
It was a record-breaking number of runners for us at both events this year; with seven people running the Brighton Marathon and two runners taking on the infamous London Marathon.
We caught up with some of them after their races to see what they had to say.....
We are delighted to announce a new partnership for the month of May, with Scrap Car Comparison.
The nationwide scrap vehicle company is raising funds to support Children on the Edge throughout the whole of May.
Scrap Car Comparison has chosen Children on the Edge as their ‘Featured Charity for the Month’ as part of their charity support programme.
After three years of great progress with tented education in Bekaa Valley, over 200 Syrian refugee children have taken another huge step forward by moving to a brand new school.
Together with partners Triumphant Mercy (TM), after supporting the creation of four colourful tent schools in Bekaa Valley settlements over the last few years, all the students have now transitioned to a new central building in Zahle.