As we approach our 30th year working with children on the edge of their societies, we reflect on what ‘the edge’ is for the children today and review our progress in working with refugee communities.
Since 1990, Children on the Edge have been supporting some of the most marginalised children around the world. ‘The edge’ for our work in the nineties was the Romanian orphanage crisis, where we supported institutionalised children to recover and reintegrate into society. Today, 13 million refugee children are pushed to the edge of their societies. Every minute, 20 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror.
We have a long history of working with refugees. In 1999, we built mobile sanitation units and provided healthcare for stranded Kosovan refugees in Albania. This was a creative solution to a problem facing the most vulnerable refugees, who were being overlooked by larger agencies and the international community.
From 2006, we developed expertise with thousands of refugee children fleeing brutal military persecution in Myanmar. Alongside the Salween river in Myanmar, we set up nurseries in Ei Htu Hta refugee camp for some of the youngest, displaced Karen refugee children.
On the Thai/Myanmar border weprovided education, developed standards of care in Thai Boarding Houses and supported a Children’s Crisis Centre for children arriving in Mae Sot without parental care. We supported Chin refugees from Myanmar through ‘Apartment Schools’ in Malaysia, a scholarship programme in India and provided education on the Myanmar/India border.
In 2009 we took our first trip to Bangladesh which marked the start of our work with an unregistered Rohingya community in the makeshift Kutupalong camp. We went on to provide low profile education for 2,700 children in a project that was chosen as a model of best practice by UNHCR, Save the Children and Pearson.
In 2013 we began providing Early Childhood Education for children displaced by war and living in the remote mountain camps of Kachin State, Myanmar and the year after saw the start of our work in Lebanon. Here we supported tent schools for Syrian refugee children in the informal settlement of Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.
In August 2017, the world was shocked by the most severe wave of violence towards the Rohingya people from Myanmar army to date, triggering 700,000 more Rohingya people to flee to Bangladesh, directly into the areas on the border where we were already working. We responded with a humanitarian relief programme and expanded our education work to 150 classrooms in the camps. With growing numbers of Rohingya refugees inland and cut off from services, we built 10 classrooms in Doharazi Rohingya Enclaves where no other agency was working.
To this day we continue to adapt and respond. Currently we support over 12,000 refugee and displaced children to realise their rights in Bangladesh, Uganda, Lebanon and Myanmar.
Our latest programme has been toreplicate our Early Childhood Development work from Jinja, Uganda to support over 4,000 Congolese refugee children in Kyaka II refugee settlement.
Every project we support for refugee children:
Is delivered in partnership with experienced local organisations and alongside refugee communities.
Trains refugee teachers and finds innovative ways to enable children to access quality education.
Creates vibrant, fun environments where children are safe.
Encourages children to express themselves, and have their voices heard.