Gali is three years old and his parents fled to Kyaka II refugee settlement in Uganda around six years ago after a life-threatening conflict erupted between the Hema and Lendu tribes in their village of Ituri in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Uganda is a world leader in the way it hosts refugees, but Gali’s mother Maurine says that since crossing the border into the country life has not been easy.
She was a farmer back in the DR Congo and whilst the Ugandan government has given her land in Uganda, it’s too small to use for any agricultural project. She and her family are solely dependent on handouts from the World Food Programme and support from UNHCR.
Living through trauma or in unsettled environments can have a damaging effect on children. Gali struggled with his behaviour and used to hit other children, no doubt as a response to life living in a refugee camp. Other parents stopped letting their children play with Gali and Maurine began to feel that people hated her son. She went to the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centre where Gali attended and asked the teacher to support him and guide him when playing with other children. Over time Gali’s behaviour changed and he stopped fighting.
Maurine says “I am certain that he will now have a strong foundation to help him perform well in his education, to be friendly, courteous and well mannered to others and to succeed in his future”.
In Kyaka II in Uganda, Children on the Edge are supporting 30 refugee communities to provide Early Childhood Development (ECD) for children like Gali. We are refurbishing or rebuilding ECD centres and providing community based learning to support over 5,000 of the camps’ youngest children.
With teachers trained from within the refugee community, the centres provide education, trauma care, play and key health interventions, ensuring Congolese children have the best possible start in life.
Maurine said, “Our early years school was on the brink of collapse before Children on the Edge Africa got involved. The classrooms were dilapidated and everything was falling apart. I was worried pieces of the mud wall would fall on the children and hurt them. Now two of our classrooms have been refurbished and they are filled with pictures and numbers on the walls. The teachers are all really good and very friendly. The children love them so much.”
Children on the Edge have developed years of experience working with refugee children like Gali. We currently support over 12,000 refugee children around the world to realise their rights.
We find innovative ways to enable access to education, working alongside refugee communities to find the best possible solutions. We train refugee teachers so that children can learn in their own language or dialect and be with familiar, trusted adults that understand them.
Our classrooms are colourful and fun environments, where children are safe and can learn to express themselves. Children can learn, play and discover how to be children again.
MORE ABOUT 'THE EDGE' IN KYAKA II
Host to the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world, Uganda is Africa’s leading refugee hosting country, and the third largest in the world. It is estimated that Uganda’s total refugee and asylum-seeking population is now over 1.4 million, the largest in its history. Over a quarter of these arrivals have fled conflict, disease and human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Despite being leaders in refugee policy, services in Uganda are overstretched and UNHCR is calling on international actors to step up their response.
Kyaka II refugee camp receives 7% of arrivals, with over 65% being children who often suffer extreme trauma after witnessing the brutality of war and displacement. They face serious child protection risks and have nowhere safe to go during the day.
A number of NGOs are providing primary education in Kyaka II, but early years education provision is limited for thousands of the youngest refugee children at a vital time in their development.
WHAT CHILDREN ON THE EDGE ARE DOING TO HELP
We are supporting 30 refugee communities in Kyaka II camp to provide high quality, cost-effective Early Childhood Development provision for over 5,000 children.
This includes early childhood education, trauma care, play and key health interventions, ensuring they have the best possible start in life. Over the next two years we will construct or rebuild 14 Early Childhood Development centres to cover 30 communities. The centres will be safe spaces, with trained teachers from both the refugee and local communities. This ensures children have the opportunity to learn in their own language with familiar and trusted adults.
During lockdown, we've been ensuring children still have safe access to education by delivering home learning packs and providing radio lessons.
The work we support in Kyaka II, Uganda is kindly funded by the Players of the People's Postcode Lottery.
Find out more about the work we support in Kyaka II as well as all of the good causes funded by the players of Postcode Lottery.