Eric, West Point, Liberia

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Eric (pictured left) is 13 years old and lives with his mother and father in West Point. His mother sells plums, while his father works as a fisherman, trawling out of a wooden canoe with a group of men off the coast of Monrovia.

Eric was in school until three years ago and reached 5th grade, but had to drop out when his parents were struggling to find work and didn’t have enough money to cover his fees.

He is still too young to go out on the fishing boats, but he and his friend swim in the pools around the coast and catch fish with their bare hands. When their family is especially struggling, and there is no food, Eric’s friends help him catch something to eat.

Eric says: ‘When I’m older, I want to be president, because I want to build my country and support my people to help them have better lives’.

Samuel, West Point, Liberia

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Samuel (pictured left) is 14 years old and lives with his mother and brother in West Point, one of the toughest shantytowns in Liberia. Samuel attended school until 3rd grade, but after that his parents had no more money to fund his education.

For four years now Samuel has been out of school and helping his mother to support the family income. His mother sells fish but the business is seasonal, so at other times of the year she sells sugar, milk, and other produce.

Samuel says that life for him is very hard: ‘I work alone in the streets around Kur Beach, and I don’t really have any friends with me. I haven’t seen my father since I was very young, and at the moment, we don’t receive any outside help. When I’m older, I want to be a taxi driver, so that I can help my mom live better’.

Without intervention, Samuel will never return to school and learn to read or write.

Daniel, West Point, Liberia

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Daniel (pictured second from left) is eight years old and lives in West Point, on the outskirts of Monrovia. Now in 1st Grade, Daniel has been working with Street Child since last year. Currently, Street Child covers Daniel’s school fees and supplies him with his school materials, so that he can continue his education despite his family’s difficulties.

Daniel lives alone with his father since his mother died, and his father has now been out of work for several years due to various mental health challenges. Daniel says: ‘Some of my friends sell water after school to help their families, but my Dad tells me to stay at home to read and study. He wants me to do really well in school.

‘Me and my Dad live with seven other families, and they sometimes they help us by giving us food, but it is still difficult for us. When I leave school, I want to be a security guard’.

Without intervention, Daniel would never go back to school.

Meet the team: Head of Rural Programs in Sierra Leone, JMK

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Eight years ago, JMK, Street Child's Head of Rural Programs in Sierra Leone, arrived in a village called Bendugu, at the end of a long dirt track in the Tambakha region.

There was a group of children sitting under a mango tree, with a young man teaching them the alphabet and numbers in English. There were well over 100 children in that village but this was the closest they had to a school.

One child in particular caught his attention, a little boy on crutches called Salieu. He was determined to become a teacher and would sit under the mango tree every day, committed to learning to read and write.

Today if you go to Bendugu, you'll find a beautiful school built by Street Child, with qualified teachers and hundreds of children in attendance. It's wonderful to see how the school under a mango tree has been transformed.

Over the years, Salieu moved through elementary and junior school, passing his exams and doing well. Now that same boy from under the mango tree has realized his dream to become a teacher. He has returned to Bendugu to teach at the school that helped him.

FREETOWN 6 MONTHS ON: STREET CHILD STUDY SHOWS 44% OF VICTIMS HAVE NO INCOME

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On Monday August 14 an estimated 1,000 people died when an entire mountainside collapsed in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. Huge boulders, dislodged by rain, left a two-mile trail of destruction – flattening everything in its path.

Immediately after the disaster the international community kicked into gear. NGO Street Child was one of the first on the scene providing emergency food with support from a variety of international donors and funders. Street Child’s team of 86 national staff worked 12-hour days for over a month providing over 85,000 meals, water, clothing, blankets and trauma counselling to those who had lost everything.

Six months on from the disaster and most international NGOs have left; but there is still much to be done.

Our latest report shows that almost half of families impacted by the mudslide still have no source of income. Following a survey of over 300 households, Street Child discovered that 44% of families affected by the flooding and mudslide have no current source of income – a drastic increase from the 5% of households who were in this position prior to the mudslide. 

The survey also found that 41% of families surveyed were identified as having children either already out of school, or at risk of dropping out of school.

Overall the study has provided a much-needed indication of the impact of the mudslide on families in the post-emergency context. It has demonstrated there is significant work to be done to help families rebuild their livelihoods in order to provide for their children and send them to school.

Street Child specializes in supporting mothers to set up sustainable businesses so they can afford the cost of feeding and educating their children. In Freetown, where after losing everything, so many families face uncertain futures, this work is vital to giving them a brighter future. The results from our report will guide our program design over the coming weeks so we can effectively support those who need it the most.

Hawa Sesay, Girls Speak Out beneficiary

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Hawa Sesay, age 52

5 children in her care: aged 13, 10, 9, 4 and 2 years à  the eldest three are enrolled in school

Situation before business grant: Things were very tough for Hawa. She struggled to provide the basic materials to enable her children to go to school. She could not afford the fees for her children to attend extra classes which they needed to progress in school.

Situation after grant: Through the profit she has made from her grant Hawa can now afford to pay for extra tuition, meaning that some of her children have been able to progress to the next grade. Those who haven’t are still working at it, and she believes with enough encouragement they will succeed.

Her business: Hawa has set up a condiments shop at her home selling a variety of products including palm oil, onions, rice, paper, and sugar. She stocks her shop with products in high demand, and if she doesn't have a product when her customers ask, she makes a note to stock it in the future so that she can build a regular customer base. Through this business model, Hawa has been able to generate a stable income. She also works alongside Street Child’s Business Officers to add weekly profits to her savings collection, which she can then collect at the end of the month to reinvest in her business. For those larger investments, Hawa has joined a women’s money borrowing organisation called Slick, in which the members share money among themselves, and return with interest when they can.

Hassamatu, aged 9, is Hawa’s eldest child. Previously, she was struggling to progress in school and needed extra tuition to help her move into the next grade. Since the success of Hawa’s business, and the extra schooling and school materials Hawa can now afford for her, Hassamatu has now moved into grade 4.

Naomie Morris, Paynesville Elementary and Junior High School

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Aged 18, Naomie Morris is now in 6th Grade at Paynesville Elementary and Junior High School in Monrovia. Living with her parents, she is the oldest child of three boys and three girls, and so has to shoulder a lot of responsibility to help support her family.

Her father has been out of work for over two years with illness, and so with their financial struggles, they usually only manage to eat once a day. Naomie says that 'sometimes it is hard, we live by the grace of God, and sometimes my sister’s family helps give us some food'.

Two years ago, Naomie had a child of her own named Tama. Tragically, in June 2017 her partner and Tama's father drowned in an accident while crossing the river in a canoe. Now she must support Tama alone, as well as her siblings and parents.

While Naomie is at school, her mother helps look after the baby, and she is determined to still continue her education and do well, studying hard when she gets home. Naomie says: 'When I graduate, I want to become a nurse, anywhere God gives me the opportunity, and later, I want my daughter to work alongside me as a medical doctor'.

Currently, Street Child covers the costs of Naomie’s school fees and her uniform. This gives her the opportunity to continue her studies and work towards entry at the competitive nurses’ colleges, a chance she otherwise would not be able to afford.

HAWA, THE ASPIRING LAWYER WHO USED TO BEG ON THE STREETS

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Hawa is one of 15 siblings. Her father is blind. From the age of eight, instead of going to school, she spent her time begging on the streets.

A Street Child social worker met Hawa on the streets last year. Through our Girls Speak Out program, we gave her mother a grant and supported her to set up a sustainable business, so she could afford to send Hawa and her siblings to go to school. We also helped Hawa with a uniform and learning materials.

“I want to say thank you to Street Child supporters for what you have done. I want to be a lawyer so I can help the people of my country.”

COPING WITH CONFLICT: SUPPORTING THE DEVELOPMENT OF AN EDUCATION IN EMERGENCIES CURRICULUM FOR NIGERIA

    December 2017. Education in Emergencies working group (EIEWG) members (including NGOs, government representatives, and major donors such as USAID) attend the first working group of the Street Child-funded Nigeria Education in Emergencies Curricula project

 

December 2017. Education in Emergencies working group (EIEWG) members (including NGOs, government representatives, and major donors such as USAID) attend the first working group of the Street Child-funded Nigeria Education in Emergencies Curricula project

Emergency education interventions often involve building temporary classrooms, until schools reopen or are rebuilt. But a return to normality can take years – especially in on-going conflict. What children need to learn in an internally displaced people / refugee camp setting can be as much about dealing with trauma, and understanding basic hygiene and landmine risk, as it is about reading and writing.

What should be taught inside those temporary classrooms? What should formal schools be teaching in addition to the formal curriculum to help children affected by crisis?

When Street Child arrived in North East Nigeria in late 2016, this was one of the key questions facing the local ‘education in emergencies working group’  (EiEWG) – consisting of international and local charities, as well as government agencies.

Non-formal education in the North East crisis response is not standardized. 73% of schools in the North East are teaching nothing outside the formal curriculum. Only 1% of children demonstrated any awareness of landmine risk, despite the deaths of two children so far this year (NE Nigeria Joint Education Needs Assessment, 2017).

Nigerian EiEWG devised a groundbreaking solution. It has proposed to standardize education in emergencies in Nigeria, not just for the North East context, but for any current and potential emergency situation across the country, where children’s education may be affected.

In early 2017, Street Child agreed to make it one of its early priorities to help the EiEWG source funding to start putting this huge idea into practice. Just before the end of the year, we were delighted to deliver on that commitment and confirm to the working group that a generous funding partner, equally motivated by the prospect of a ‘systems-level’ change, had pledged $100,000 to Street Child for this purpose. The project can begin!

The development and roll-out of a standardized EIE curriculum is an incredibly ambitious project. The barriers to education in the North East include a chronic lack of trained teachers, ongoing security risks, and a very low level of basic education even before the conflict. The scale is huge - Nigeria is a federal republic, with the second largest population in Africa.

But if it succeeds, millions of children affected by emergencies in Nigeria will receive an education appropriate to their individual context. Standardized basic education will improve their chances of returning to the formal system, while standardized emergency-related education will increase the resilience of all children to the worst effects of their situation, and help them deal with the increased risks to their physical and mental health and safety.

Street Child is extremely proud to be supporting this initiative. When the project was proposed to the Education in Emergencies working group, the project was a pipe-dream without funding. Now we are helping to make it happen!

The project is rightly led by the appropriate Nigerian government agencies: the Ministry for Education, the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and the National Educational Research and Development Committee (NERDC) – but Street Child is helping to plan and drive the project. Our first job was to gather and inform the stakeholders who would be essential to the project, from teachers’ unions to international funding partners, working towards the development of a curriculum.

Though ambitious, the potential to learn from this project, not just in the Nigerian context but in other global emergency contexts, is enormous.

Education in emergencies is a uniquely forward-looking intervention, one which deals not only with the present crisis, but maintains hope for the future.

COPING WITH CONFLICT - WHY 'EDUCATION IN EMERGENCIES' MATTERS?

35% of out-of-school children in the world live in conflict-affected countries. Street Child is increasingly working in areas of the world where health emergency (Ebola in West Africa), natural disaster (the Nepal earthquakes), or conflict (North East Nigeria) are preventing children from accessing education.

One of our first tasks in these situations is to argue the importance of education in emergencies.  Traditional humanitarian work centres around the basics - food, medicine, shelter. In a rapid onset emergency – a flood, an earthquake, an outbreak of conflict - this makes sense, certainly in the first few days and weeks, and can save the lives of millions of affected people.

But what happens when conflicts drag on, when thousands of children are out of school months or years after the crisis began?

In Nigeria, an estimated 2.5m children are out of school - in large part due to an eight-year conflict with the extremist group Boko Haram (meaning ‘Western Education is Forbidden’’). 1 in 5 schools have been destroyed across three North Eastern states. Education has been drastically set back – in a part of the world where it was already weak.

Education is an essential part of the humanitarian response, providing a safe space for children in crisis contexts to learn to read and write, to play and - crucially – to receive lessons that keep them safer and more healthy inside and outside the classroom.

Education also provides normality and a sense of hope for children caught up in crisis, and their families. Despite the dangers, parents in the conflict affected communities where Street Child works place education for their children in their top three priorities for international support.

In an emergency setting, it is often not possible for children to go to formal school, or to learn using the national curriculum. When schools are destroyed by an earthquake, when they are occupied by soldiers or – most tragic of all – where schools never existed in the first place and have now slipped even further down the local priority list, a generation of children stays out of school. This is not OK. Humanitarian responses that sustain life but do not nourish hope for a better future, are desperately inadequate.

Education in emergencies is about being brave and foresighted enough to build for a better tomorrow even when today is desperate. This is not a luxury. This is vital. And this is why it's a priority for Street Child.