20 children from Uganda Railways Primary School in Loco community have volunteered to be part of a Child Rights Club, to learn about their rights (as laid out in the United Nations Convention for the Rights of the Child), how to promote them and how to advocate for both themselves and the other children in their area.
“They will be the eyes, ears and mouths of the voiceless children in their school and community” said COTE Africa social worker Nandawula Babra.
The Headteacher from the Primary School helped to form the group and also appointed a ‘patron’ from the teaching staff to guide and support them as they train and plan their activities.
The group, (consisting of 14 girls and 6 boys) had their first workshop last month, which was facilitated by Noah Namwano from Child Restoration Outreach in Jinja. The session covered a broad understanding of what a child rights are, what the Convention for the Rights of the Child is and what kind of activities the club will be involved with.
The children will be choosing these activities based on the four themes of survival, development, protection and participation. Through these activities they will be contributing to the reduction of violence, abuse, exploitation and trafficking in the community.
The day after this workshop, another Child Rights Club session was held, together with teachers, to focus on child protection. The children were invited to discuss the issue of corporal punishment at school, giving examples of their experiences, feelings and opinions on how discipline could be improved.
The teachers were very responsive to these ideas, and the session went on to discuss child exploitation. Children were asked to identify perpetrators and came up with a full list of those they feel pose a danger. Facilitator Noah Namwano said “I am so pleased with the participation from the children. It just shows they have something to say, and they are just looking for the opportunity to express their concerns”.
They went on to look at different forms of exploitation and what can be done to stop it. Many of the children were surprised, as some realised through this discussion that are regularly subjected to exploitative activities in the areas. The Child Rights Club will be meeting again in the next few weeks to look at leadership and planning.
Watch this space to see their progress and find out more about our work in Uganda!
My week with Children on the Edge
17 year old Abby Brooks has spent a week in our Chichester office on work experience. She’s written a blog about her week with us...
I am a student at nearby, Bishop Luffa Sixth Form and I’m studying A Levels in geography, media and maths. Throughout the year in my human geography lessons I touched on topics such as border control issues and refugees which sparked a strong passion and interest within me, inspiring me to learn more. I have set myself a goal to study International Development at University as I believe it will be the stepping stone in finding a career that combines my interest in Human Geography with my passion for charity.
When my school offered the opportunity of a week of work experience I began to research local international charities and was surprised when I came across Children on the Edge right on my doorstep. As most international charities are located in London, I was delighted when they allowed me to join them in the office for a week, as I knew it was an exciting and rare opportunity to find out how a charity is run and gain some vital experience.
I was warmly welcomed by the COTE team on Monday morning and given an interesting and insightful introduction of the charity’s history and current projects. I learnt about the different roles within the office and how each member of the team contributes to the smooth operation of the charity. This opened my eyes to the range of jobs available within a charity organisation, including roles that I had never heard of before such as Operations Manager - who makes sure all the work is kept legal.
Throughout the rest of the day I generally helped with tasks in the office such as sorting through old video tapes of previous COTE projects footage and transferring them onto DVD disks for easier storage. I also explored the COTE website and created a document answering questions such as how easy it was to navigate and suggesting improvements.
Tuesday began with creating thank you letters to local shops and businesses who kindly donated prizes for COTE’s tombola at Priory Park Festival; I was able to not only write the letters but also hand deliver them which I enjoyed as I was representing the charity and got to personally thank the generous businesses in our community. Other tasks included documenting the COTE’s search results to give them an idea of how easy it is to find their website online, and to update the press page on their website by taking press clippings.
The highlight of the week was Wednesday, as I was given the opportunity to sit in a ‘COMMs’ meeting where the team updated one another and planned for upcoming events. A clip about one of COTE’s projects in India was shown and I learnt about the ‘Untouchable’ Dalit children. This really impacted me and made me fully realise the extent to which the help of this charity is desperately needed. I was then set an exciting challenge by my supervisor Amy, to create a presentation which could be used in encouraging other schools to fundraise for Children on the Edge.
I spent the rest of Wednesday and Thursday creating a power point presentation, following their brand image which I really enjoyed as I could express my passion for media and design, as well as broadening my own knowledge and understanding of the charity in the process.
On Friday, to conclude the week I was able to present my presentation to the team which was beneficial as it developed my presenting skills and confidence when speaking to an audience.
Overall my week with Children on the Edge has been impacting and inspiring, as I have expanded my knowledge of international issues through researching COTE’s projects in India, Bangladesh, Uganda, Burma and Lebanon.
Learning how an organisation can reach the children on the very edge of society and change their lives has further encouraged me to study international development at University and hopefully work for an international charity in the future.
Find out how you can volunteer with Children on the Edge
Recently our partners in India have organised a Summer Camp; a week full of games and activities for hundreds of Dalit children in Patna, who attend our Education Centres. As well as being a time for fun, the week was also designed to develop the skills and talents of the children and to build up their confidence and self esteem.
The Dalit people in India face ingrained caste discrimination, often excluding them from education and medical facilities. Despite the caste system being outlawed, it still causes severe persecution, restricting where Dalits can live and what jobs they can have.
The Centres we support provide education and have a strong focus on helping children understand their rights. The curriculum encourages them to realise these rights, and break out of the vicious cycle of discrimination and poverty.
Every child during Summer Camp was invited to participate in all the games and activities and each day, one of the youngest boys and girls from each Centre were selected to be the ‘Guest of Honour’. They were welcomed in the morning with the 'Summer Camp Cap' and were responsible for announcing the winners of each game.
Older children from each Centre were selected each day as leaders. Their role was to motivate the other children and inspire teamwork. Earning points for their Centre was a great motivating factor! All of the games and activities were chosen because they built group thinking and teamwork. The older children were also invited to give a small speech on the theme of working together.
Sister Veena who leads the Centres in Patna said “It was so interesting to see the coaching that the children gave to each other before starting each game. We wanted the whole week to be a joyful experience, but we also wanted to build confidence. We gave opportunities to as many children as possible. They will remember being a guest of honour or a leader in the class. This gives them dignity and improves their self esteem.”
Find out more about the work we support in India, and consider supporting the project by clicking on of the action buttons below.
New smiles for displaced Kachin children
Children on the Edge has enabled two internally displaced Kachin children to receive much needed cleft palate surgeries. The camps where the children live are completely cut off from the most basic services, so procedures of this kind are not available.
Children on the Edge supports 14 Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres throughout 12 Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) camps in the remote mountains of Kachin State, Burma. Where possible we also provide winter provisions for the children. We collaborated with Kachin Development Group (KDG) who we partner with to deliver the Centres, and Smile Train who provide cleft repair surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children in over 85 developing countries.
14 month old Le Thu Win was born in the IDP camp at Pajau. Her family have had to take shelter there since 2011, due to armed conflict between the Kachin Independence Army and the Burmese military. Le Thu Win is the third daughter of the family. Her eldest sister passed away soon after being born and now her elder sister is three years old and attending on of the ECD Centres we support.
Sadly when Le Thu Win was born, her father was not happy. With two elder girls, he was hoping for a boy, and after this point abandoned the family frequently, choosing to spend time with friends. She was born with a cleft palate which concerned her mother, especially as it created difficulty with breast feeding.
Le Thu Win and another young boy called Wai Myo Lin from a neighbouring camp were supported to take a 16 day round trip to Mandalar Hospital. Here, Smile Train provided treatment which went ahead smoothly and without complications. Longer term the surgery has proved very successful and since this point, both of them have been living happily with their families.
Bawk Hkun from the Kachin Development Group says “This is new experience for KDG. We consider this as a collaborative initiative between Children on the Edge, Smile Train and ourselves which proves as an example that the things we previously saw as impossible can be solved with collaboration and networking among agencies”.
New runner, Jenni on why she's running the Chichester Half Marathon for Children on the Edge
Jenni Block is taking part in the Children on the Edge Chichester Half Marathon in October and she's decided to fundraise as part of our Run for Refugees Team, raising over £250 so far.
We interviewed Jenni, who only started running in January this year, about her training, how she's feeling about the race, and why she decided to support Children on the Edge.
What made you sign up to the Chichester Half Marathon?
I started running in January, having decided I needed to do something to improve my fitness. I had tried running in the past and hadn't enjoyed it but this time something stuck. My new found enjoyment for running led me to want to try running in an event and the Chichester Half Marathon, being local to me, was the logical choice.
Is this your first half marathon?
I haven't run a half marathon, or any formal race, before!
How is your training going? Are you following a plan?
I started using the couch to 5k running app, I am now moving on to an app called 13.one which sets up a training plan for you based around your race date, allowing me to build up strength and endurance to be in perfect shape for the race.
What’s the hardest part about training?
The hardest part is sometimes finding the motivation, I work in a physically demanding job and some days I don't want to go for a run when I get home; but the support from friends and family has encouraged me. With the recent heatwave it has been harder than ever because I want to wait until it's cooler which often means going out at 9pm at night, by which point I have wound down from the day and am not feeling up to going out!
What’s the best part about training?
Training has improved my health, not just physically, but mentally. I am sleeping better and feel better in myself, waking up with far more energy and in turn am eating better and walking with more confidence.
Had you heard of Children on the Edge before signing up to the race?
I had heard of them, through a friend at university, but didn't know a lot about the charity and its' work.
What made you decide to fundraise for Children on the Edge?
Reading more into the charity, and the great work they do, I felt that this was a deserving cause and I would turn a run that was initially selfishly about me into something better for those in need. It allowed my friends and family to show their support for me whilst boosting both the profile and funding for an under recognised charity and more vulnerable members of society.
What would you say to anyone who was thinking about raising money for Children on the Edge at the Chichester Half Marathon?
If you're running the race, use this opportunity to raise the profile of this great charity. There are children suffering the effects of political choices across the world, innocent and vulnerable young people being punished for the choices of others. Every penny raised helps create a new positive environment for these children.
How are you feeling about the race itself?
Honestly? I've never been more scared in my life. As someone who has spent the past few years living a relatively sedentary/inactive life, this is one of the biggest challenges I've ever set myself. I'm relying on the faith my friends and family have in me, plus the incentive of helping out such a great charity to push me on the day, across the finish line.
If you'd like to join Jenni and our fabulous team of Run for Refugees runners at the Chi Half this October, sign up here.
As we near the end of our first year of Loco’s Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centre in Uganda, we’re delighted to hear that Haileybury Youth Trust (HYT) who constructed the building to such a high standard last summer, has been awarded an Ashden International Award for Sustainable Buildings 2017.
Bourne Community College student wins prestigious Diana Award for Children on the Edge fundraising efforts
Local student, Megan McCulloch, aged 16, from Bourne Community College in Southbourne has been included on a prestigious list of winners as part of the 2017 Diana Awards’ Roll of Honour, to honour her fundraising efforts for Children on the Edge.
Megan was jointly nominated by Children on the Edge and the school for leading their Charity Committee to raise £1,471 throughout 2015-2016 with a range of different fundraising activities.
The Diana Awards are set up to celebrate and reward exceptional young people who embody Princess Diana’s qualities of kindness, compassion and service. To celebrate Princess Diana’s Birthday this 20th Anniversary year, the 2017 Roll of Honour, which included Megan's name, was announced over the weekend.
Megan said: “I cannot express how honoured I feel to have been given the opportunity to help those less fortunate than myself. It was a pleasure to lead a team of great students. I have been inspired and supported by an outstanding member of staff who guided me through my journey of fundraising and leadership - I am filled with joy at becoming a Diana Award winner!”
Fundraising Manager at Children on the Edge, Eloise Armstrong said: “Megan has been a fantastic ambassador for Children on the Edge within Bourne Community College. We have been impressed by her pro-active leadership; innovative fundraising ideas and her communication with our fundraising staff. As a small charity, the impact of Megan’s fundraising has been significant and timely, enabling us to provide ‘on the edge’ safe spaces and education for Syrian refugee children in Lebanon and Rohingya refugee children fleeing Burma and living in Bangladesh.”
Megan managed all aspects of the relationship between us and the school; arranging visits and presentations from the Children on the Edge staff team, coordinating the fundraising events, and delivering assemblies to share the impact of the total money raised.
Megan brought leadership and energy in her role as chair of Bourne Community College’s charity committee and committed time each week to bring together a team representing all year groups. She coordinated all year round fundraising which included a school-wide sports day featuring unique sports played in the countries where we work. As well as the Easter “Children on the Egg” challenge.
The money raised by Megan and the school can help provide education in an informal tented school in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon for eight Syrian refugee children for a whole year.
Children on the Edge rely completely on voluntary donations and receives no institutional or government funding for their programme in Lebanon, which makes this support all the more vital for the charity during the worsening refugee crisis in Syria.
Phil Harper, Student Voice Coordinator said: “I have loved seeing Megan grow in her leadership skills. She knew how to lead staff and students with enthusiasm and purpose. I now feel genuine pride at Megan's achievements and the young person she has become - courageous, resilient and compassionate.”
Head Teacher, Yvonne Watkins said: "All of us at Bourne Community College are delighted with the Diana Award for Megan. She has worked tirelessly as Chair of our Charity Group. She is an exceptional young student, embodying all the qualities of kindness, compassion and service that are reflected in the Diana Award. She has worked selflessly, always aiming to inspire and motivate other students and staff to raise awareness and money for those less fortunate than themselves. She truly deserves this wonderful Diana Award.”
Megan will collect her Award at a special Ceremony later this year.
The Diana Award was set up in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, and her belief that young people have the power to change the world for the better. It is committed to fostering, inspiring and developing positive change in the lives of young people through practical social action. Today The Diana Award has the support of both her sons The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
All the award winners – who come from every region in the UK and USA, Canada, UAE, India, Belize, Australia, Greece, Indonesia, Croatia, Liberia, Jersey, New Zealand, Indonesia and Liberia – have had a monumental impact on society and lives of those in their communities. Many of them only know Princess Diana as a historical figure but they carry the honour of the Diana Award with pride and admiration for whose memory it was set up in.
Would your school like to fundraise for Children on the Edge? Find out more here or contact our Fundraising Officer, Amy Rook.