Programmes on three levels
War Child is dedicated to the improvement of the psychosocial wellbeing of children and other youngsters. In the aid programmes this is dealt with on three levels:
direct aid to children and young people;
support to adults and capacity building of local organisations;
influencing policy and informing the public.
1. Direct aid to children and young people
War Child’s programmes support children and young people in their psychological and social development. These programmes take the strength of the child as their starting point and make them resilient. Stronger children can cope better with difficult situations. The organisation of these programmes is described in more detail in paragraph 2.3. Direct aid is divided in creative activities, sports and education.
a. Creative activities and sports:
Recreational and creative activities, sports and games connect with the experiences of children and teenagers. These activities provide an opportunity to express emotions, stimulate creative and expressive abilities and communicative and social skills, give children joy, self-respect, inner strength and hope for the future. Finally these creative and sporting activities promote contacts with peers and can bring children from rivalling groups together again. War Child provides a safe environment where children feel free to join in.
In the field:
Partner organisation Taller de Vida in Colombia lets children choose, after a general introduction programme, the means that suit them best, for example, theatre, music or dance. Several themes are discussed during consecutive workshops, such as child rights, conflict and peace, emotions, relationships, etcetera. Children learn how to deal with their plight in a playful manner; they strengthen their identity and work on their future. A series of workshops is usually concluded with a show or exhibition during which they can show their families and fellow-villagers what has changed for them.
War Child aims at non-formal education concerning the situation of children in conflict areas. For example, children are taught general skills (‘life skills’) to learn to communicate with each other better and to solve problems without the use of violence. They are also taught survival skills such as knowledge of landmines, aids and drugs. Literacy skills, accelerated primary education and vocational training are also important tools that offer children perspective. Education brings structure to the lives of children as well as help and attention from teachers and contact with peers. Schools are a safe and familiar educational environment.
In the field:
At the beginning of 2007, War Child organised a sports league in Northern Uganda with four aid organisations to bring children into contact with education through the use of sports. This way, their chances of returning to school are increased. Many children returned to their villages from the refugee camps with their families in 2007.They missed school because of the war. Three hundred schoolchildren participated in this ‘Back to School Football and Netball League'. Eighty teachers were trained in football and netball regulations, and the goals and ideas behind the ‘Champions League of Northern Uganda’ were also explained to them. After the finals in October 2007, many schools received extra applications thanks to the league. The number of children not going to school dropped because of the permanent possibility to play sports in school.
2. Support to adults and capacity building of local organisations
The environment in which children grow up greatly affects their development. Adults who look after children must be able to recognise the child’s problems. They are the ones who are ultimately responsible for the rearing and development of their children. Therefore War Child organises trainings, discussion groups and community meetings for parents, guardians, teachers, social workers and leaders of communities.
a. Increased capacity
War Child wants to make a lasting contribution to the lives of children. The War Child programmes are also aimed at increasing the capacity of local organisations and institutions. War Child supports them with knowledge, expertise and financial means. The way in which War Child enhances the capacity of these organisations and the kind of co-operation that we engage in is described in paragraph 3.2.
In the field:
In July 2007, 60 social workers and teachers of the local partner organisations in The Democratic Republic of Congo participated in a training session in child centred teaching methods. The goal was to teach them new pedagogic skills. Children often learn quickly as they go along. They will develop better when they are actively involved in class. The training programme offered, among other things, learning by doing, the development of children, how children pick up things, creative methods, the position of the teachers and the equal treatment of boys and girls. The teachers experienced themselves how these methods work. The teachers learned how to avoid abstract terminology and how to make their lessons visual and interactive through practical assignments.
b. Training of paraprofessionals
War Child trains local organisations but also teachers, social workers, volunteers, parents and guardians in the use of creative teaching methods and interactive teaching methods with a focus on children.
In the field:
In 1999, War Child started training local volunteers in Kosovo in the field of planning, implementing and evaluating creative workshops. Later on, they were also taught about the development and implementation of teacher training sessions. In 2003, the group of volunteers decided to continue as the independent organisation World Child Kosova. Personnel took part in several training sessions, from creative methods to training in management and the development of programmes. World Child Kosova has developed its own programmes based on this and they are able to train teachers, personnel of other organisation and (para) professionals from the entire Balkans to implement creative methods themselves. World Child Kosova will continue to run as an independent organisation in 2008.
3. Influencing policy and informing the public
War Child is of the opinion that structurally more should be done to the living conditions of children affected by armed conflict. War Child tries to influence authorities’ policies to improve the situation of children and to urge compliance with child rights.
In the field:
Around the Southern Sudanese town of Juba, War Child organised the African Child Week in June to create awareness in the community and the government about child rights. It was also to ensure that the new ’Child Bill’, the official law for the protection of children, drawn up by the United Nations, would be passed by parliament for Southern Sudan. After an activity-filled week, 180 participants walked past representatives of the ministries of Social and Religious Affairs, Youth, Culture and Sport and other different aid organisations carrying banners. Many joined in along the way. The audience and the media in the football stadium also saw the message of the children. The week was concluded with a football match between street children and a team of schoolchildren. The week was hugely successful, with 150,000 listeners and TV-watchers. The message “Know my rights, respect my rights, so support the Child Bill” hit home.
War Child also brings children in war areas to the attention of the Dutch public at large by means of publicity campaigns and local activities or large public information events such as Liberation Day festivals on 5 May and the International Peace Day on 21 September.