We’ve written a lot about different sporting challenges our supporters set themselves. From running marathons to cycling across countries, but we haven’t ever had anyone row the Atlantic! Until now…
Alan Lau, will be rowing solo and unsupported across the Atlantic Ocean to raise money for Children On The Edge. He will be setting off from Gran Canaria early December 2014 and arrive approximately 90 days later in Barbados, covering a distance of 3,000 miles using only the power from his oars.
As a motorcycle racer, triathlete, long distance cyclist and a gravity enduro mountain biker, Alan is not unfamiliar with challenges. He has dreamed about crossing oceans in a boat since his childhood and the dream started to become reality in winter 2008 when he was inspired by reading the story of another ocean rower coming to the end of her challenge.
In addition to raising funds for our work, Alan is also hoping that his adventure will inspire others to step outside of their comfort zones. The boat “CurryFishball” that will be used for the crossing has been specially built by Rossiter Yachts, a family run business spanning 3 generations of boat builders who Alan has really enjoyed working with; “I feel safe knowing that my boat has been built by Cris Rossiter and his team.”
At the moment, his expedition is self funded, with a very lean team helping preparations. During the expedition itself, only the safety co-ordinator will be involved from land, to provide weather information and co-ordinate communications.
To engage with the community and to help raise awareness as well as funds, Alan has decided to run several competitions and raffle draws for school children to get involved in. Competitions range from creating the best theme for the boat to be painted with to designing the T-shirt graphics for the team. There will even be an opportunity to win short trips in the boat. In addition, Alan will be promoting the event at the Southampton Boat Show in September 2014.
To find out more and to get involved, check out Alan’s Atlantic Challenge Facebook page
Children on the Edge is delighted to have been awarded funding by the Big Lottery Fund, to scale up our work with working children in Bangladesh.
Since 2009 we have been working with our partner MUKTI, in Bangladesh, providing a chance for working children in the Cox’s Bazar area to gain an education that would otherwise have been unobtainable.
Building on this work, the lottery grant will contribute to the costs of the programme for the next three years and enable us to increase the number of working children in our Community Schools to 900 per year.
The grant has also made it possible for us to recruit an additional 36 teachers making a total of 108 teachers across all the Community Schools, all benefitting from full teacher training in child friendly techniques, and the delivery of curriculums which have been specially developed for students who have encountered barriers to education.
The Big Lottery Fund is the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding and is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need.
Rachel Bentley, Director at Children on the Edge says “Our aim is to create an opportunity for children who have been denied all access to learning, to gain an education and have a chance each day to just be a child. This education is key to breaking cycles of poverty and discrimination and we’re delighted to have the backing of the Lottery in making this a reality for thousands of children”.
Over the next five years we will be focussing particularly on the introduction of child based student councils, training children as evaluators and encouraging them to take a lead in monitoring and planning. They will also be meeting with community leaders on an annual basis to voice their opinions.
Working children in the Community Schools will be working towards a three year goal of graduation into mainstream primary education. We will be resourcing staff to negotiate these places with local schools and to work alongside parents to raise awareness about the importance of education for their children.
Find out more about the Community Schools in Bangladesh.
Later this year, the Children on the Edge Chichester Half Marathon will be back for a third year, but to keep our runners busy in the meantime, we have the Spring Marathon season sweeping across the UK!
This year we have seven runners taking on marathons (including the Virgin Money London Marathon and the Brighton Marathon) in order to raise money for Children on the Edge.
Over the next few weeks we will introduce to you to a few of our Brighton Marathon runners, but right now we’d like you to meet our 2014 London Marathon runner, Ben Geralds. As a former employee of The Body Shop, Ben has been involved in fundraising initiatives for Children on the Edge before. Ben started running in 2011 to keep in shape after giving up rugby in his early twenties. After getting the running bug, Ben has been running regularly and when he heard we had a place available for the London Marathon 2014, he jumped at the chance to apply for it.
“Having a keen interest in sport, I have always had running a Marathon on my Bucket list, with the London Marathon for me as the pinnacle of all marathons to run in the world. When I lost 10st between July 2011 and May 2012, this became an achievable target, and in December 2012 I ran the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon (in what can only be described as a bog!), in just over 4:30hrs. I was then lucky enough to hear about the opportunity to run the 2014 London Marathon on behalf of Children on the Edge, jumped at the chance and was incredibly lucky and honoured to be selected to fly the flag.”
Taking on the challenge of one marathon is a big enough task for most runners but Ben has decided to take it even further:
“I think fundraising for such an amazing charity needs to be extra special. Therefore I have taken the plunge to run not one but three marathons in 2014 – Brighton, London and Berlin – all wearing my Children on the Edge colours. Any amount of awareness that I can raise alongside my fundraising will be fantastic and I’m proud to be able to do this – even at 6am at the start of my long training runs!”
Three marathons is an incredible feat of running and we are completely in awe of Ben’s dedication both to his running and his fundraising. His target is £2,500 and his company have kindly agreed to match what Ben raises.
It costs just £100 a month to provide pre-school education for 10 children at the Child Friendly Space in Soweto Slum, Uganda. This has become a community-changing programme that protects, educates and nourishes vulnerable children. The money Ben, and our other runners, raise this spring will go towards transforming communities like this and returning childhood to hundreds of children living on the edge of their societies.
If you’d like to support Ben in his marathon efforts, please visit his JustGiving page.
In response to the widespread poverty and isolation in North Korea, Children on the Edge will be partnering with the North Korean Children’s Assistance Program in their work with 5,500 children in dire need.
The programme currently provides food, warm clothing, and essential supplies to children in over a dozen schools and twenty state orphanages. Orphanages are given priority as malnutrition in these institutions is widespread. Our partners are in the unique position of having the approval of the central government, who have asked them to expand their reach into increasingly remote and destitute areas.
In a country which thrives on secrecy, our partner’s founder Professor Sang Lee, has slowly forged relationships and built trust with key officials and teachers. As a result, the North Korean Children’s Assistance Program has access into parts of the country which were previously considered unreachable by any international organisation.
In spite of the unprecedented access granted to it, the programme is still only able to meet a fraction of the needs at the institutions in which it works. Harsh living conditions and regular food shortages mean that day-to-day life of children in North Korea, especially those living in institutions, is a struggle.
Despite its current success, the programme is in serious need of support as it endeavours to reach the neediest areas of the nation. Children on the Edge will be supporting this programme by helping to raise money to respond to the current need.
Our aim is to build relationships in country as we support this programme, so that in the longer term we can contribute our own unique expertise of working with marginalised and orphaned children. As the country opens up, our hope is that we can encourage the reform and de-institutionalisation of the child care system.
We are currently pursuing funders for this unique and pioneering project, please get in touch if you are aware of parties that may be interested in supporting the initial stages of this work.
Attacks resume in Kachin State, Burma, as we step up our work with displaced children
On 30 January 2014, reports from Free Burma Rangers stated that Burma Army troops attacked Nam Gau Village in Kachin State, Burma, firing at and capturing 18 villagers. The fighting worsened the following day, with reinforced Burma army troops attacking an additional village to the south with heavy mortar and machine gun fire.
Most residents of both villages had already fled due to a previous attack in November, now nearly all remaining families have fled, despite attempts by the Kachin Independence Army to defend the area.
The backdrop of the current attacks is the breaking of a 17 year long ceasefire in 2011 between the Burma Army and the Kachin Independence Army, the ensuing conflict has taken thousands of lives and forced over 100,000 Kachin people from their homes. They are now living in crowded camps, often cut off from aid and essential services.
Confined within these camps are thousands of Kachin children who cope in very difficult circumstances with very little support for their healthy development. Many of these children, in particular those under the age of 6, have known nothing else but war, with daily life offering little escape from the effects of violence and conflict. These children have no access to psychosocial support.
After the atrocities stepped up, in June 2012 Children on the Edge were able to deliver vital aid (warm clothes, strategic nutrition and toys) to displaced children on the border near China.
As part of this work we conducted a consultation with local groups and a thorough needs assessment. As a result, through partnerships with the Kachin Women’s Organisation and the Kachin Development Group we are providing Early Childhood Development to 1440 children in outlying internally displaced settlements.
Although some aid and support has got through to more accessible areas around Laiza, there are 12 higher altitude camps in the northern part of the state that are still cut off. We are focussing on these areas. As well as establishing 12 child friendly Centres for displaced and traumatised Kachin children, we have created a full programme of Early Childhood Development with a robust curriculum.
The aim is to allow Kachin children who have known nothing but conflict for the past two years, to simply enjoy being children in a vibrant safe place for a few hours a day and provide them the opportunity to mature into healthy, stable young people.
As these recent attacks have made apparent, the problems in Kachin State are not abating. To respond to these needs, alongside the development of 12 Centres, we will be building a training programme for 72 teachers from the IDP camps, with a particular focus on developing child friendly techniques and expertise with children who have experienced trauma.
Find out more about the situation from the latest Human Rights Watch Report, and please consider donating to our work here.