Humane: Do Some Good
If Given the Chance
Of the thirty or so children in the above photo, what potential lies within their starry eyes or their churning hearts?
Who among them will grow up to change the world? Perhaps there’s one, if given the chance, who could become a research scientist who discovers a cure for some intractable disease. Or maybe there’s another in this photo, if given the chance, who could become adept at resolving conflict and bringing people together in peace. Or there might be one in this photo, if given the chance, who could become a loving husband and a caring father who builds a business that provides for his family so that his children can gain an education that will in turn build economic opportunities for themselves and their community.
However, some may glance at this photo and see a group of children obviously entrenched in poverty, and conclude that there is little hope for any one of them to achieve much of anything in this world.
Thankfully, there’s Street Child, an organization in the UK that believes that every child deserves our best efforts to help them achieve their highest potential. That sounds like a mission that is way beyond any one organization to tackle. But Street Child took it on and here’s how they did it:
Street Child is a UK charity, established in 2008, that aims to create educational opportunity for some of the most vulnerable children in West Africa. Starting in Sierra Leone, then the poorest country in the world, we have supported over 20,000 urban and rural children to access a quality education. Together with our local partners, the charity has grown since 2008 from one project for 100 children in Northern Sierra Leone, to one of the most broad-reaching charities currently working in the region with 30 projects in multiple countries. Street Child's principal focus is upon empowering children by giving them the chance to go to school and giving their families the wherewithal to keep them there.
Street Child began its work in Sierra Leone in 2008 working with a small number of street children. As little as five years later, we had helped around 2,000 street children create stronger bonds with their families and have helped more than 20,000 out of school children gain access to education.
Street Child continues to have a huge presence in Sierra Leone, working where the need is greatest and the help from NGOs and other charities is often least.
Since 2012, Street Child has been conducting needs assessments throughout West Africa in a bid to take the models that we’ve developed in Sierra Leone to other nations desperately in need of help. In 2013 we launched our first project in Liberia, helping street children in the capital, Monrovia.
How is Street Child continuing its work during the Ebola crisis?
The gravity and scale of the crisis of Ebola-affected children continues to grow – despite glimmers of longer term hope.
In Sierra Leone, Street Child has now registered over 7,500 cases, and we expect to reach 10,000 later this month. We have also registered close to 2,000 orphans in Liberia, a figure which is certainly only the tip of the iceberg. Our latest projection, as reported in the Evening Standard last week, is that there are over 30,000 children who have been made destitute by Ebola.
Moreover, despite these huge numbers, Street Child remains the only major on the ground charity caring for orphans. Whilst Street Child aims to deliver its 10,000th orphan aid package this month, as brilliantly described by Street Child’s JMK in a unique first-person article in the Guardian this week, despite the presence of almost every major humanitarian charity in the region, we are unaware of any other charity who has delivered material aid to even 1,000 orphans.
This is a horrific situation. These children have lost everything. Street Child is trying very hard but is not a huge organisation. We are doing as much as we can but we do not have, and are not receiving, the funds needed to help these numbers of children.
The ray of light in that the situation is that some future funding is being pledged for these children. Following on from Sir Bob Geldof’s pledge that a proportion of Band Aid 30 funds would be for orphans, the British Government this week announced a £2.5m grant to UNICEF for worst-affected children .
Street Child welcomes both these announcements and is hopeful that we will be asked to deliver portions of these projects – both Sir Bob in the Sunday Mirror & Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Development, speaking in the House of Commons this week, have praised Street Child’s work for orphans and our current appeal with the Sunday Mirror. However, we are very aware that these commitments will take time to translate into cash and action on the ground – but the crisis for orphans is not a future event, it is a disaster right now.
You can hear more from Street Child's Chloe Brett about her trip to Liberia last week by clicking here for an interview she gave to BBC World Service – focusing on the haunting experience of visiting a village ‘with no mothers’: Ebola had taken then all away . . .
You can help Street Child care for these orphans and continue their work by donating.