Our work providing low profile education to Rohingya refugee children has been chosen as one of 20 projects selected as examples of best practice in refugee education.
Over half of the world's refugees are children, the majority of which experience the double jeopardy of losing both their homes and their education.
Promising Practices in Refugee Education (PPIRE) is a joint initiative of Save the Children, UNHCR, and Pearson. Launched in March 2017, the initiative set out to identify, document and promote innovative ways to effectively reach refugee children and young people with quality educational opportunities.
Methods from each chosen organisation were documented in the form of 5,000 word case studies, each recommending lessons for the sector going forward. You can read our case study on low profile education for Rohingya refugee children here. It highlights the need to find alternative solutions to improve the situations of the most vulnerable, and encourages practitioners to work closely with the local refugee communities, with an agile and creative approach.
On the 22nd of September, during the UN General Assembly, the Promising Practices initiative launched a report that synthesises the key findings and lessons learned from across these projects. Both the projects and the experience of implementing partners have been used to identify ten recommendations aimed at improving refugee education policy and practice.
Our Communications and Advocacy Manager, Esther Smitheram went to the event in New York to present on our work with an unregistered Rohingya refugee community.
She said “We were pleased to contribute to an initiative that is genuinely crowdsourcing information from a wide spectrum of areas and organisations, finding the best education methods for displaced children. Children on the Edge exists to help those children who are out of the spotlight and unreached by the larger agencies, so we welcomed the opportunity to highlight the plight of the Rohingya, especially at this time”.
Inspirational 58 year old, Chichester resident, Warrell Harries is running this year’s Children on the Edge Chichester Half Marathon, just over a year after suffering a life-changing heart attack.
Last June, Warrell, who considered himself fairly fit and well, suffered a heart attack; which kick started a new healthy lifestyle and commitment to transform his life. We spoke to Warrell this week as he told us his incredible story ahead of the sixth Children on the Edge Chichester Half Marathon next weekend - Sunday 8th October.
His symptoms started one Wednesday morning in June 2016 as he cycled to work; but he didn’t recognise the signs and brushed them off. A few days later, he was out for lunch with friends and family when the same feelings came back. He describes them much like asthma symptoms. As he started to feel worse, he finally decided to go to St Richards in Chichester to get checked out. He was told he was having a heart attack and was sent straight to Queen Alexandra Hospital to see the heart specialists there. After surgery to clear a blocked artery, and fit a couple of stents, Warrell was told he could ‘go back to normal’ in around 6 weeks’ time.
Despite being fairly active, Warrell knew that his drinking and eating habits were probably to blame, and that he did need to start taking better care of himself. He was determined to make a change. In the autumn, his daughter, a keen runner, encouraged him to give running a try. Warrell assumed his asthma would prevent him from running, but bought some cheap trainers and gave it a go.
Soon after, his daughter asked if he was going to do a Parkrun. He was aware of these free Saturday morning timed runs that take place all over the country. But Warrell again assumed this would be far too much for him, as he’d never ran more than 10 minutes in one go. But his determination, and the encouragement of his daughter spurred him on. So, he went along to Oaklands Park in Chichester one Saturday morning to give it a go.
He said that on his first run, he managed to ‘get to the rugby club’ before thinking ‘this was ridiculous’ and gave up. But he returned week after week and hasn’t looked back since.
In July 2017, Warrell was lucky enough to able to meet the founder of Parkrun by chance when on holiday in Lymington. He decided to join in on the local Parkrun as a ‘tourist’. He got chatting to a few people on the course, one of whom took an interest in his story and encouraged him to talk more about his running and how he got there. Warrell didn’t realise that the man he was talking to was in fact Paul Sinton-Hewitt, who founded Parkrun!
Shortly after, a friend Kim, who’d also recently had a health scare, encouraged Warrell to sign up for the Chichester Half Marathon. He thought the course would be too tough, and initially said no. But after a bit of pressure from Kim, and his daughter, he couldn’t refuse! So Warrell will be taking on our beautiful, but tough course next weekend.
His incredible transformation will also benefit Papyrus, the national charity for the prevention of young suicide, as Warrell has chosen to fundraise for them at the race this year. Papyrus is a charity very close to his heart; after he heard about the tragic death of an old colleague’s daughter, who lost his daughter to suicide last year. You can sponsor Warrell on his Just Giving page here.
Warrell said that his heart attack has changed his outlook on life. He doesn’t want to “waste this fabulous opportunity” now he’s been given a second chance. He also said that his new found love of life especially resonates with the work of Papyrus who believe that with appropriate support and education, many young suicides can be prevented. He wants to do his bit to ensure that more young people can be supported.
All of us at Children on the Edge are blown away by Warrells’ story, and we’re so pleased that our flagship fundraising event, the Chichester Half Marathon will play a small part on his recovery journey; as well as help raise vital funds for another worthy charity.
If you'd like to enter the Chichester Half Marathon 2017, you can do so until Wednesday 4th October at 11.30pm. We're also looking for volunteers to help on the day. Find out more below.
Children on the Edge are currently seeking financial support to provide immediate humanitarian support for Rohingya refugee families in Bangladesh.
A catastrophic rise of violence and ethnic cleansing in Rakhine State, Myanmar has forced over 400,000 Rohingya across the border into Bangladesh into makeshift refugee camps and local communities.
These already impoverished communities, who are still taking stock of recent flood damage, are ill-equipped to host scores of traumatised new arrivals. The BBC report that despite larger aid agencies arriving with humanitarian aid, the government has forbidden distribution outside of the official camps.
These camps can support only 70,000 of the estimated 400,000 refugees, leaving hundreds of thousands to fend for themselves with no support at all. 60 percent of these arrivals are children, and many Rohingya refugees say they have had no contact with any international aid agency at all.
Children on the Edge are uniquely placed to respond to the current crisis and meet the needs of these most vulnerable refugees. We have seven years of experience working within the Rohingya community in an unregistered camp on the Bangladesh border. This work has been highlighted as a ‘Promising Practice’ in a recent report to the UN General Assembly, recommending best practice in refugee education for the sector.
We have built up strong local partnerships over this time, and these partners are best situated to provide support to unreached refugees through their skills, experience and networks.
Due to the limited help available in the official camps, many new arrivals go on to seek refuge further inland, in urban slums or enclave communities which are already comprised almost entirely of other Rohingya migrants. These areas are outside of the scope of the UN and larger agencies, and it is here that Children on the Edge is currently concentrating its efforts. Over the past few weeks alone, 50,000 Rohingya have sought shelter in the slum areas of Cox’s Bazar.
In these communities, we are responding to both the immediate relief needs of the new arrivals as well as preparing to provide services once the crisis passes and world's attention turns elsewhere. Given that there are already 200,000 newly-displaced, vulnerable children along the border, it is difficult to overstate the scale of the need.
In response, we will provide essentials such as rice, clean water, latrines and tarpaulin along with cash transfers to new arrivals in slum and enclave communities. By safeguarding the refugee’s water supply, protecting their health from unsanitary waste, providing basic shelter, and ensuring they have enough to eat, this programme will protect the lives of thousands of the most vulnerable Rohingya in this crisis.
In addition, we aim to build 20 safe spaces within these communities. These safe spaces will be child-friendly environments, where 1,200 severely traumatised children can go to re-establish a sense of normalcy, through a daily routine with trained and trusted adults. Here they can play, learn, receive a nutritious snack each day and begin to process what they have been through.
Our safe spaces will also give parents and carers a few hours each day, in the knowledge that their children are safe, to start finding solutions to their problems. They can use this time to search for work and food, find lost family members and begin to process what the future might hold.
Over 330,000 Rohingya refugees flee wave of violence in what the UN describe as a 'textbook example of ethnic cleansing'
As the humanitarian crisis evolves; Children on the Edge will be working with local partners to create a number of classrooms and safe spaces for some of the most vulnerable new arrivals. With thousands more refugees arriving every day, the needs far outweigh the resources available.
An already grim situation for Rohingya migrants in Bangladesh has reached dire new levels over the past month in what has turned into a humanitarian catastrophe for the Rohingya. A fresh wave of violence and atrocities in Rakhine State, Myanmar coincided with near record levels of flooding in the region. Over 330,000 have fled across the border into makeshift refugee camps and local communities, many of which are underwater.
Children on the Edge partners on the ground report the situation as ‘chaotic’ and ‘unpredictable', as they join the effort to provide aid to thousands of arrivals, fleeing what the UN is describing as a 'textbook example of ethnic cleansing'. Most of these have arrived in the Cox's Bazar area where we work. Local staff are estimating that with this new influx, there are now at least 500,000 Rohingya arrivals since the last spike of violence and displacement in October 2016.
The timing could not be worse for such a human catastrophe to unfold. Large swathes of the country remain underwater as the region has received near record rainfalls in the past month. Already impoverished Bangladeshi communities, which are still taking stock of flood damage, are ill-equipped to host scores of tramautised new arrivals, many of whom have had their homes burned by the Myanmar army and witnessed even more unspeakable acts.
The government in Naypyidaw has made little secret of its disdain for the nearly one million Rohingya in Myanmar, and this latest outbreak of violence appears to be another dark chapter in their larger campaign to force them out of the country.
We have been working with Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh for the past seven years, educating children in Kutapalong camp, one of the largest makeshift camps on the border. Our classrooms provide a child-friendly, stable and safe space for these children to learn and recover from trauma.
Our years of experience working with the Rohingya community here makes us uniquely placed to respond to the current crisis. We are responding to both the immediate relief needs of the new arrivals as well as preparing to provide services once the crisis passes and world's attention turns elsewhere. There are 200,000 newly-displaced, stateless children who are extremely vulnerable, arriving in communities where we are working.
It costs just £4.30 a day to provide a safe space for 60 Rohingya refugee children. Make a donation today and help us support and protect as many of these children as we can.