Our Work Around the World in 2019

Feb. 4, 2020

Venezuelan refugee children participate in War Child's TeamUp
Thanks to your support, War Child made significant progress last year in our mission to improve the resilience and wellbeing of children living with violence and armed conflict. From individual successes to the roll out of international programmes, we present our key achievements during 2019...

Rapid support for Venezuelan refugee children

Political and economic unrest in Venezuela drove more than four million people out of their homes in 2019. Hundreds of them ended up at the Centro de Atención Integral Maicao refugee camp near the Colombian border. Here, our TeamUp programme offers refugee children the support they need to begin to start over. The suite of activities - from sport to games to dance - provides children with an emotional outlet as well as a much-needed sense of stability.

Birgit van Delft, TeamUp International Coordinator, saw with her own eyes how the programme benefits young refugees. Birgit: "The TeamUp sessions help children to - for a brief moment - forget about their problems. We teach them dance steps and play games with them. For these children, this can make a world of difference. The activities distract them from their uncertain and stressful existence".

Venezolaanse vluchtelingen in Colombia - War Child

Like millions of other families, this Venezuelan father and daughter are in search of food, shelter and medical care.

Photo: War Child

Strengthening our scientific research model

War Child has long been committed to providing psychosocial support, education and protection for thousands of conflict-affected children around the world. Less known, however, is that an increasingly large part of our work consists of evaluating and improving the ways in which we provide that support.

Every day, our dedicated team of scientists and researchers measure the effectiveness of our work; identifying gaps as well as concrete scale-up methods. Through this critical attitude we aim - just like the children on our programmes - to continuously learn and grow. And ultimately reach more children. In 2019, we increased our focus on Research & Development by further developing a number of evidence-based interventions and tools within our integrated care and support system. And, from the rapid roll out of Can’t Wait to Learn to a successful test run of our Stigma Reduction Approach, the merits of a robust research model continue to be evident.

Girl Uganda with teddy bear in hands looking into the camera - War Child projects

From Uganda to Yemen - children in conflict-affected areas require tailored support that meets both their immediate and long-term needs.

Photo: War Child

Reaching more refugee children at home

TeamUp was launched in 2016 to respond to the urgent social and emotional needs of more than 7,000 refugee children living in asylum reception centres in the Netherlands. Over the course of the year - together with partner CED-Groep - we expanded our programme activities to meet the needs of refugee children at 17 schools across the country. Middle School teacher Susan said: "These children often carry a backpack full of hardship. In a safe environment we can teach them how to deal with emotional or difficult situations."

The sports, play and exercise activities help refugee children deal with emotions such as fear, anger and stress in a playful way. In the Dutch education sector, the demand for this method continues to grow.

We once again showcased our programme metholodogy during the annual 'TeamUp Date' - which saw our partners and supporters experience the activities at the core of the TeamUp programme for themselves. Attendees took part in the 'parachute game' together with our volunteer coordinators.

Parachute spel tijdens TeamUp War Child

Teacher Susan: "Without TeamUp, these children would have a much harder time adjusting. The sessions help them unwind."

Photo: War Child

20,803 people #DrawTheLine

Most charities and non-governmental bodies focus on traditional humanitarian aid: a roof over a child's head, food and a warm blanket. However vital this aid is, 2019 saw War Child take major steps to address an even bigger crisis - mental health. What good is a blanket when fear keeps you up at night? And how does food comfort those without an appetite? With our petition #DrawTheLine we raised awareness for the millions of children unnecessarily marked for life.

The lack of emergency psychosocial support for children in conflict-affected areas desperately requires our attention. The petition - which called for increased resources to be directed towards humanitarian mental health responses - put this topic on the agenda. #DrawTheLine received the support of 20,803 people in Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden and was presented to Dutch Princess Mabel and Sigrid Kaag, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation.

Petitie-overhandiging Minister Kaag - War Child Holland

Our #DrawTheLine petition received the support of 20,803 people in Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden.

Photo: War Child

Building resilience in Uganda

Following decades of war and political unrest, the situation in Uganda has somewhat stabilised. However, due to ongoing violence in neighbouring countries, including South Sudan and DRC, the country now provides shelter for over 1.36 million refugees and asylum seekers - half of them children. For many of these children, their journey to safety is characterised by trauma and distress. And now they find themselves in crowded refugee camps, often separated from their families.

Our sports and game activities and education programmes in Uganda help strengthen children's innate resilience. We support their recovery through from the conflict-related violence they faced at home to the insecurity and threats to their safety they face now. Step by step they learn how to deal with their experiences and begin to place trust in themselves as well as their environment.

Boy in Uganda joining TeamUp _War Child

We teach Ugandan children and youth to work together and resolve conflicts peacefully.

Photo: War Child

Prestigious Innovation Prize for tablet education

At the start of 2019, our Can't Wait to Learn education programme won a prestigious UNESCO prize. The King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize on Innovation in Education is awarded annually to ICT projects that utilise technology in order to make education more accessible throughout the world. With the support of our partners, War Child's Can’t Wait to Learn programme has achieved exactly that.

We teach children how to read, write and count by playing educational games on tablet devices. Thanks to a unique delivery method, Can't Wait to Learn can be used anytime, anywhere during or post-conflict - even in areas where electricity or internet access are in short supply. In this way, we work to prevent a generation of children from being left behind.

Custom gaming technology for quality education: Can't Wait to Learn

With the help of local children, we adapt Can't Wait to Learn's educational games to reflect their environment and government-approved curricula.

Photo: War Child

Safe Spaces for 3000+ Children

"Thirty-eight, thirty-nine, forty!" she cries out proudly. Watching Sumaya jump rope, it is hard to imagine what her life looked like just a few years ago. Thanks to our Safe Space, she can now play outside free from harm. Yet when she stops, her memories come flooding back...

Like many of her peers, Mariam- born in Mosul in northern Iraq - has been living in a refugee camp for years. At our Safe Space we help children like her deal with their daily stressors as well as their experiences of war and conflict. Above all, we help children be children again - free from the threats of the outside world. In this environment, children can begin to process what they have been through - helping combat long-term mental health problems including anxiety and depression. The results of our year-end campaign showed that in 2019, we were able to provide a Safe Space for 3,125 children across our countries of work.

War Child helpt kinderen in oorlog weer kind zijn op veilige plekken - Irak

Millions of refugee children suffer from stress, nightmares and trauma. At our Safe Spaces we help them regain control of their lives.

Photo: War Child UK

Furthering our mission in 2020

Without the help of our donors, partners and supporters, our 2019 achievements would not have been possible. From the development of flagship international programmes and training courses to growing recognition for psychosocial support, we are eternally grateful.

This year marks War Child's 25th anniversary. Yet we see no cause for celebration. Some 142 million children around the world continue to live with the effects of violence and armed conflict. And, with the scale and complexity of humanitarian emergencies more acute than ever, we must work together to amplify our efforts. In 2020, War Child Holland will continue to collaborate with local organisations, partners, international NGOs and more to develop new interventions and advocate for lasting change in children's lives.

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