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Responding together for children whose lives have devastated by war in Syria – Lorna Byrne Children's Foundation

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Responding together for children whose lives have devastated by war in Syria

After years of conflict, Syrians are facing the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, with grave protection and human rights violations occurring daily. By November 2017 over 6 million children inside Syria were in need and 2.5 million were living as refugees in neighbouring countries. Food insecurity, living under siege, being out of school, poverty, lack of health facilities and an urgent need for water and sanitation are just some of the mammoth challenges facing young Syrian children and their families.

According to our charity partner Unicef Ireland, whom we have supported since 2015, Syrian children are at serious risk of becoming a ‘lost generation’. From 2015 to 2017 we prioritised humanitarian aid to this vast crisis through Unicef Ireland’s Syrian appeal. Their teams on the ground provide the essential services needed to minimise the impact of this horrific crisis on Syrian children and young people.

Children supported by Unicef’s Syrian Appeal children have been provided with clothing, nutritional items, water, education, protection, psychological help, health supplies, and medicine.

We are only one of many partners joining with Unicef to address the scale of this problem but are proud to have played our part thanks to your outstanding support.

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Reuniting street children and supporting education in the Amhara region of Ethiopia

Children in Ethiopia may live on the streets for many reasons: they may be orphans or abandoned, they may have been abused and run-away, they may have been neglected or felt unwanted by their families. In all of these cases, the situation can be hopeless. Without the care and support of their parents, these children will suffer from a lack of education and healthcare and will face many social and psychological troubles.

From 2015 to 2017 we supported our partner charity APA to implement an extensive reunification programme for 40 street children in East Gojjam. As part of this project and critical to its success was the importance of working together alongside government organisations, faith based and community based organisations and community-care coalitions in the area to make it effective.

Training

Throughout the year children received 40 days training on:

  • life skills and HIV/AIDS,
  • conflict resolution and management,
  • child rights and positive discipline
  • peer education and family influence
  • leadership

40 families of the reunited children also attended training in family life, hygiene and sanitation. After the training, the reunified children became more motivated and able to better cope with the difficulties of their life.

Income Generating Activities

One of the main challenges for the families of reunified children is being able to generate income so they can supply their children with basic needs, which reduces the risk for the children to return to the street life. As part of the programme a 10 days training in Basic Business Skills (BBS) was provided for 40 family members so they could learn about entrepreneurship and business, planning, finance, leadership and book-keeping. At the end of the training, the 40 families of the reunified children have been involved in different income generating activities using start-up capital.

Coming together to support each other

Dialogue among reunified children is really necessary for the process to be positive. We also supported 15 families to get together in a monthly traditional coffee ceremony.

Support Groups for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children

Necessary materials were purchased locally and distributed to six associations for orphaned and vulnerable children. This included volleyballs, soaps, drawing books, colours, pencils, 12 footballs and sportswear.

A three day training programme for 40 children’s association members was also provided to give them a deeper knowledge in topics like life-skills, leadership, their association’s objectives and importance, problem solving.

Educational support

We also provided educational support for 364 vulnerable children and young people which included educational grants, uniforms, blankets, school bags and reference books.

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Nutrition for families in the aftermath of drought

In 2016, during our visit to the Ethiopia we witnessed first-hand the devastation the El Nino drought, the worst in 50 years, had on children and their families in North East region of the country. The persistent poor and erratic rainfall caused most streams and springs and hand-dug wells, in short, all the normal sources of water, to dry up. This put families, communities, livestock, crops – the whole environment – under pressure even to survive.

Women in communities here are the gatekeepers to addressing the nutritional needs of children. They are the ones who grow and prepare the crops at home and ensure there is diversity in a child’s diet. Women are also more likely to spend their incomes on food and children’s needs – research has shown that a child’s chances of survival increase by 20% when the mother controls the household budget.

Working together with our charity partner APA our response had three major elements:

  1. Seeds purchase and distribution

Over 1300 families who were most severely affected by the drought received 5kg of chickpeas and bean seeds each.

  1. Training of women in nutrition

We supported 24 women from four separate women’s cooperatives to receive training in nutrition.

  1. Small scale Irrigation system with a women’s agricultural co-operative

We were able to support a Womens Agriculture and Farming Cooperative to complete a small-scale irrigation system and provide them with a pump necessary to lift the water from the river.

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Supporting a safe space for traumatised Irish children

From 2015-2017 the Lorna Byrne Children’s Foundation funded Creative Arts Therapy for marginalised children from some of the most disadvantaged communities in Ireland who have suffered trauma from abuse, grief, loss, environmental, domestic violence and poverty with our charity partner Blue Box. This included individual and group therapy in ten schools around Limerick and on site at Blue Box for children aged between 3-18 years old. The therapy was provided by professionally qualified art, music and play therapists. Children are referred to this service from individual schools, TUSLA – the Irish national child and family agency, community nurses, mental health providers and community organisations.

We also supported a bespoke music therapy programme for children and parents that works to break the cycle of family abuse and trauma. It works to build healthy attachment between the parent and child.

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