Life on the Edge: Bangladesh
Laily and her friend collecting oysters.
Laily lives in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. Poverty is rife in this country and UNICEF estimate that over 5 million Bangladeshi children aged 5-14 work to support their families or themselves. Since Laily’s father was taken ill with a critical disease he was no longer able to support her and her sister and brother. Her mother felt helpless and moved to Cox’s Bazar to find a job.
She thought she would have more chance here as it is a popular tourist area, but she found nothing and ended up making small amounts of cash by making oyster wreaths and selling them in the market. In order to make these she sent Laily out to collect leaves and oysters from the beach.
One day staff from one of the Learning Centres supported by Children on the Edge came to Laily’s house and talked with her mother. They said that she could come and learn at the Centre in the afternoons with no charge, be given free school materials and still have time left in the day to help her mother.
Laily started almost straight away. She said at first she was afraid about studying but now she loves it much more than collecting oysters! She describes how every day she prepares homework and goes to school. Here she is given snacks, has time with friends, receives care from the teachers and focuses on what she terms as ‘joyful study’. When she grows up she is hoping to use what she’s learnt to start a career in customer services.
Children on the Edge support three Learning centres in the Cox’s Bazar area, enabling 300 young workers to receive an education for two to three hours a day. Here they receive a nutritious meal, attend lessons, freshen up with a wash and have the chance to play and rest with their friends.
Of course we don't believe children should have to work, but with the levels of poverty being so severe families have little choice. Sometimes the money earned by these children is the only income they will see. With our Learning Centres children can help their families without entirely missing out on their education. Our aim is to give those children a few hours each day where they can focus on being a 'child' again; to play and learn without the harsh pressures of outside life.
Find out more about our work in Bangladesh and donate to our projects.
Donna and Jowan scale new heights
Donna Bosustow has been been fundraising for Children on the Edge since 1999 when she first joined The Body Shop at Home™ who do some fantastic fundraising for our projects.
When she went to The Body Shop at Home™ Christmas Conference last September she heard how some of the projects were threatened with closure unless consultants raised enough money to keep them going.
“I sat there and started thinking what can I do to raise a bigger amount of money. I wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before and that’s when doing an abseil popped into my head”.
After the conference Donna went home and started looking for abseiling places in Cornwall. It was at this point that her 10 year old son Jowan said that he would like to do an abseil to raise money for Children on the Edge as well. Donna booked them both in for December and they both set about raising money.
“On the day it was very, very cold, windy, very rainy. I was a little nervous and Jowan was very nervous but we walked up to the top of the old granite quarry and we did it. We both really enjoyed it and in the end we did six abseils between us,not forgetting the climbs back up to the top!”
“I was very proud of myself but even more proud of Jowan who at age 10 helped to raise over £500. At the beginning of the abseil he was so scared, but he was smiling by the end of it”. Donna and Jowan have smashed their fundraising target and raised a fantastic £560!
This money will pay for 112 children from the slums of Haiti to attend the sports programme supported by us for a week, each receiving a food parcel to take home! If you or anyone you know is interested in fundraising for Children on the Edge then please contact Euan Clarke, our Community Fundraiser.
In a class of their own
Back in October we posted up a photo of a pile of wood waiting be transformed into a primary school for a small Chin community in Burma. At this time the children had no chance of getting an education. We are happy to report that the school is now built and open for classes!
The school was due to be opening in November but a delay in harvest meant that all the villagers were tied up working in the fields throughout most of that month. Now the school is built they have held a community celebration and got started on their learning.
Cheery Zahau, our representative in Burma says “All the villagers and those in the nearby villages are so grateful as they can send their children to the school too. Next they would love to raise money for high school teachers”.
This Chin community in this tiny village in Burma have been the target of persecution and oppression for many years from the Burmese military regime.
The village is situated just 3 miles from an area where one of the main Burma Army Battalions are posted. These soldiers force tax, labour and food from the villagers and consequently many people have left the village.
Despite years of campaigning for a road to be built, there is no transportation out of the village so before this school was built the children remaining in the village had no way of getting to schools further afield. The new primary school has four teachers and provides education for 84 children.
Please find out more about our work with the Chin people of Burma or donate to our projects.
Burma: An end to civil war?
The news of the release of political prisoners in Burma on 13th January came a day after the announcement of a ceasefire with the Karen ethnic group. The international media have been praising Thein Sein for these steps and many of our supporters have been asking us whether these changes will have an impact on our work with displaced children both within and on the borders of Burma.
While Children on the Edge welcome these steps towards democracy, the reports on the ground until recently have been showing that ethnic cleansing has actually increased. Our director Rachel Bentley says “Burma is not a democracy yet, it’s more of a possibility than it’s ever been, but these are just small steps towards change. Our hope is that the recent ceasefire agreements with various ethnic groups will hold, but only time will tell”.
Representative of the Karen National Union, Bwa Bwa Phan has described how the number of people forced to flee their homes has doubled in the past year from around 70,000 to almost 150,00. The use of rape, even against children by the Burmese army has increased. She also tells stories of unarmed villagers being exectuted, schools mortar bombed and aid being blocked to the internally displaced.
At a presentation in London, Jack Dunford of the Thai Burma Border Consortium described how the media coverage of the recent moves by the government is actually having an adverse affect on the refugee community from Burma. Seeing the news headlines, donors are making the assumption that the troubles are over, and that displaced peoples can return to a peaceful and democratic homeland. Consequently financial contributions are falling.
So it is this situation that the children we work with are living in, not a situation that is on the cusp of being resolved. Even if and when there is genuine political change and significant moves towards peace, we will be investing our efforts into the returning refugee community who form such a fundamental part of the fabric of Burma. We will support them to rebuild their lives, homes and communities.
Please find out more about our projects for children in Burma as well as those that have fled to Thailand, India, Bangladesh and Malaysia. Your ongoing support is invaluable.
We are delighted to announce that we will soon be benefitting from an exhibition of paintings inspired by Shakespearian plays from stage and screen actor Jonathan Hyde.
From February 7th – 19th Jonathan’s paintings will be on display in the Oxmarket Centre of Arts, Chichester to view and buy, with proceeds being donated to our projects.
Jonathan Hyde has performed and starred in numerous theatre, television and film productions. Credits include 2011’s Rattigan’s Nijinsky at Chichester Festival Theatre, King Lear, Macbeth, Spooks, The Queen, Titanic and Jumangi to name but a few. He is soon to be seen performing in the UK tour of The King’s Speech.
Jonathan is also a very talented artist and while at Chichester in 2011 was inspired to take brush to canvas and create a series of narrative pieces based on Shakespeare, principally King Lear. Jonathan skillfully captures the inner mood and emotional atmosphere of the characters he paints.
This is an exciting opportunity to be able to view and buy this original artwork and to help raise awareness and funds for Children on the Edge.
Jonathan's work can also be seen on Saturday 4th February The Minerva Theatre in Chichester alongside two performances of The Virginia Monologues, also in aid of Children on the Edge.
Why growing old is great
There is no reason at all to despair at growing old. Your sixties and beyond can be the very best - and funniest - time of your life.
So says much-loved and respected agony aunt and journalist Virginia Ironside in her production of ‘The Virginia Monologues’. Directed by Nigel Planer, the show premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2009, before going on to tour the UK.
After 10 years as agony aunt at Woman magazine, Virginia became the problem page editor for the Sunday Mirror and Today as well as writing the ‘Dilemmas’ column for the Independent every Monday, and a monthly column for the Oldie.
Now Virginia will be giving two special charity performances at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester, on 4th February 2012 (Performances start at 2.30 p.m. and 7.45 p.m.). All profits from the show will be donated to our work.
The performances were bought for the charity by a local lady who wished to make a difference in the lives of children living in the most difficult situations. Chichester Festival Theatre has kindly given the use of the Minerva for both shows free of charge.
Each show will be followed by a champagne reception where Virginia will be available to sign copies of her books and the audience will have the chance to enjoy an exhibition of paintings by stage and screen actor Jonathan Hyde.
Hyde’s credits include 2011’s Rattigan’s Nijinsky at Chichester Festival Theatre and the forthcoming production of The King’s Speech which will tour the UK from February 2012. All proceeds from paintings sold will also go to Children on the Edge.
Tickets cost £15 and it is advisable to book well ahead in order to avoid disappointment! Simply call the Chichester Festival Theatre box office on 01243 781312 or visit their website.
Good news all round
As 2011 drew to a close there was plenty of good news for Patrice Millet and his sports programme in Port au Prince. Children on the Edge supports Patrice with this innovative project which gives over 400 children in the slums of Haiti the chance to play football, be coached and encouraged, and receive a food parcel at the end of each training session to take home.
Not only was Patrice nominated as a top ten CNN hero but he was featured on Russell Howard’s Good News where all of the footage taken by CNN was screened on prime time BBC!
There’s also been some good news on the ground where it really matters. Recently funds have been raised for a bus, which has been desperately needed for years on the project. Not only does it help get the children to training and matches, but it enables Patrice to take them out on trips further out from the slums, to places they’ve never been able to see before.
“The kids had never been to these places yet so they were very excited and very, very happy to discover new landscapes,” says Patrice. “They are so happy and really enjoy the trips”.
We still need your support. Running costs for the bus are expensive and each daytrip means that food needs to be provided for the children. Please take a moment to read more about the project and consider donating.