We’d like to introduce you to 4 year old Bieneme, whose development has come on in leaps and bounds since joining our cluster group lessons in the Kyaka II refugee settlement in Uganda.
In Uganda, thousands of Congolese refugee children living in the Kyaka II refugee settlement are lacking early years education and support at a crucial time in their life.
We support Congolese refugee communities to provide early childhood development education for their youngest children through our award-winning cluster group model. Small, outdoor lessons for the youngest children create access to quality learning for thousands of refugee children, who are otherwise cut off from support.
Bieneme is a 4-year-old Congolese refugee, living in the Kyaka II settlement in Uganda. He was born with hydrocephalus (a buildup of fluid on the brain) which wasn’t diagnosed until he was 2 years old. As a result of his condition, Bieneme regularly loses consciousness, cannot walk without support, and he has difficulties learning, which has left him very isolated.
His physical condition has resulted in surgery, and is being treated on a regular basis by a local hospital, but socially, instead of receiving extra care, Bieneme had become ostracised by people of all ages in his community, and he rarely had the chance to play with other children.
This social isolation has exacerbated the delay in his speech abilities, and he was becoming easily upset or angry when others interacted with him.
Bieneme was unable to access any education or early years support until one of our cluster groups was formed a few steps from his home.
These are small outdoor classes for children aged 3-6 who benefit from the expertise of locally trained caregivers, who create fun, colourful activities, with plenty of focus on play. The cluster classes offer high quality early years education for thousands of the youngest refugee children in the settlement.
Bieneme started attending his local class, which he could walk to from his home. He was given extra time and support from his caregivers (teachers) during learning activities and ‘free choice play’, and his caregivers have developed bespoke learning materials that work well for his learning style and abilities.
Since joining the group, Bieneme’s motor skills, along with his social and emotional development have come on in leaps and bounds. He has learned to control his anger through special attention and guidance from his caregiver and the local ‘Trainer of Trainers’ (superteacher) in his area.
He now ‘feels loved by the other children who play with him and help him to walk when he gets stuck’.
Biememe can now say his name and the name of his friends, as well as speak in short sentences, including phrases like ‘thank you’ and ‘I am sorry’. He can count from 1-5 and is now mastering 6-10.
His dad has also become a caregiver at a neighbouring cluster group and developed his own business thanks to our local microloan scheme.
Both his mum, dad and older sister are so happy to see Bieneme now learning with friends and taking part in the cluster lessons and his sister enjoys helping Bieneme get to his classes.
Throughout all our programmes, we treat each child we support as an individual and work to create the conditions where they can realise their rights and thrive.
We reflect our values of hope, dignity, justice and freedom of expression in everything we do and with everyone we work with.
We ensure that where we work, everyone in the child’s environment is aware of and committed to respecting the universal rights enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) - a promise, made by governments across the world, to do everything in their power to protect and promote children’s rights to survive and thrive, to learn and grow, to make their voices heard and to reach their full potential.
In Kyaka II, Uganda we train refugees from the local community to teach, so that children can learn in their own language, in a familiar culture, with trusted adults. Cluster lessons are vibrant and fun experiences, full of song, dance, laughter and interaction. Community ownership allows the programme, in time, to run independently from external support, so that refugee communities can continue to provide early childhood education for their children long into the future.
By working alongside communities to co-create protective environments that generate hope, life, colour and fun, we enable children to realise their rights.