'Supporting families and
young people to achieve...'
In one of our previous posts, we spoke about how Jan Jan Bureh Nursery (JJB) were waiting to re-open for the autumn term and welcome the children back in.
Unfortunately, a worrying thought lurked in the backs of the minds of the staff that worked at the school. They were concerned about the rain. The teachers were worried that the rain would flood the playgrounds, bringing out dangerous creatures that exist below the surface. They were worried that downpours would clatter loudly on the tin roof, stopping both teachers and children from being heard. And they were worried it would mean the children wouldn’t come to school because they didn’t have the right shoes to walk there.
In The Gambia, the home to JJB, the rain can bring a welcome relief from the hot, sticky sun. But it can also cause a lot of problems. In this case, it can mean that children don’t get to go to school for the day, missing out on an education and possibly one of the only meals they may get that day.
JJB send Intouch Global Foundation regular updates. We love reading their stories and seeing what they have been up to.
We received an update just last week from one of the teachers at the school:
School re-opened on Monday 21st September following the extended summer break due to the rains.
As it was still raining on Monday, not all children arrived at school - so that it was a slow start.
The children were served with a meal, and the staff held a meeting during the afternoon.
Staffing is interesting.
The senior teacher unexpectedly took a leave of absence and an Early Years student from Gambia college unexpectedly arrived for teaching practice. Two temporary teachers were employed (young men who had passed three exams as grade 12 at school). Finally, a teacher from a local school visited to say that his wife is training to be an Early Years teacher and that he would like her to be attached to the nursery! She is to attend an interview.
So, together with the existing staff, there is a teacher for every class - although only one has any teaching qualifications.
As the aim for the future is to employ only qualified teachers or student teachers, we are in talks with Early Years advisors from the coast; they are to visit the nursery to discuss how they can help with:
a) Finding a qualified Early Years Headteacher and teacher.
b) Enabling a selection of the existing staff to be Early Years trained.
The nursery will be responsible for funding the travel and accommodation fees for the advisors when they travel to JJB in the near future.
We will also be responsible for paying the college fees for training student teachers.
From the staff photograph, it is apparent that some of the new staff do not have the means to obtain suitable clothing for their new post.
Therefore, it may be necessary to offer support.
Today, Tida (the founder) will call a meeting with the staff to discuss ideas for possibly providing suitable clothing.
This may take the form of black trousers or skirts, white shirts, shirts or tops in traditional fabrics or smart, collared T-shirts with a school logo, which some staff already have and find comfortable.
Practical but smart clothing is needed. Female staff would be offered black trousers or skirts.
Tida is to meet with the builder to urge him to complete the building of the toilet block so that he can start the building work necessary to put a door on the open classroom and to also rectify the problem of flooding in the playground.
Let’s hope that the weather improves so that all of the children attend, and classes can then begin.
Every year, the 11th of October marks International Day of the Girl Child . At Intouch Global Foundation, gender equality is one of our main focuses, which is why we feel it’s such an important day for us to talk about.
This year, the Generation Equality Forum , a forum that brought together change-makers, leaders and corporations from around the world, raised their voices even louder to commit to finding solutions for gender inequality. This group has been a huge inspiration for this year's International Day of the Girl Child's talking points.
In 2021, the focus of International Day of the Girl Child is on listening to adolescent girls and hearing what they have to say about the world and the things they think need to change. These girls are the future and are already starting to have a big say in tomorrow’s world. We need to listen to their points and be inspired and influenced by their demands. According to the UN, these demands are to:
Living in a society where genders are treated equally increases the economy, reduces poverty and has even been more linked to peace. Yet, women and girls still earn less on average, don’t have as much access to education and are more likely to be victims of sexual and violent crimes. Unfortunately, that’s just naming a few inequalities that exist!
This is why we need to hear more voices and stories of women and girls across the world. And we need to hear them loudly and clearly - so everyone at the back can hear too!
If you believe that gender equality is the way forward, you can get involved by sharing stories of women and girl's experiences through social media and general word of mouth. You can also listen to their ideas on how to change the world for the better as well as educate yourself on how gender inequality exists around the globe. Finally, you can support charities that focus on gender equality as a sustainable factor.
With the new school term about to begin, the teachers at Friends of Jan Jan Bureh Nursery (JJB) in The Gambia have been looking forward to the children going back to school. For lots of children, school is the only chance they have to get a hot meal, which, along with an indispensable education, is why it is so important for them to be able to go to school every day.
Unfortunately, though every child should be entitled to go to school every day, for many this isn’t possible. At Jan Jan Bureh Nursery, this can be due to factors as small as the weather. Rain plays a huge role in whether children are able to go to school and get the education they deserve so that they have an equal start in life like their peers.
A teacher at the school spoke to us at Intouch Global Foundation to tell us about how much of a difference rain can make to a normal school day.
“Today, the nursery will re-open for the Autumn Term. That is, unless the rains continue.
The school was cleaned ready for re-opening, but on Thursday, it rained heavily and once again, the roads surrounding the nursery were flooded.
The playground, with the incomplete building work and poor drainage, was flooded, muddy and unusable.
The play area has, again, been cleaned and the floors mopped ready for the children to arrive today.
However, if it rained yesterday, or if the rains come today, parents will not venture out of their homes as they do not have waterproof shoes or protective clothing. Instead, everything comes to a standstill until the torrential rains stop and the floodwater has dispersed. There is also the fear of snakes lurking around the flood water!
Lessons are not possible during the rainy seasons as teachers cannot make themselves heard above the noise of the heavy rain beating down on the corrugated tin roof. The rains this year have been unusually prolonged.
Communication with the Headteacher remains difficult as the power supply is intermittent and the network is poor.
Communication generally remains a real difficulty; electricity has been installed but we are waiting for a meter to be supplied. Two ‘tablets’ have been shipped out and will reach JJB on Thursday. The IT teacher at the local secondary school has agreed to set the tablets up to enable communication by email.
Regardless of the many difficulties that surround living in such an under-developed area, we are confident that the staff will be fully prepared to welcome the children back into the nursery today. Weather permitting!”
World Youth Skills Day, which falls on 15 July 2020, is organized by the United Nations to draw attention to the opportunities and challenges facing young people’s employment. This year’s theme is ‘Skills for a Resilient Youth’.
The number of young people not in education, employment, or training (NEET) is increasing, exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis.
The decline in opportunities caused by the pandemic has not been compensated by returns to education and training. As a result, the NEET rate has risen in many countries and will remain high unless significant action is taken.
How we can help
Intouch Global Foundation knows that education is the surest path out of poverty. That’s why we support projects which strive to empower young people, giving them access to quality education and equipping them with the skills they need for their futures.
Over the last 18 months, children in the communities we partner with have displayed incredible strength and resilience during a period in which they have experienced nationwide lockdowns, school closures and sudden loss of family income.
Young people are particularly vulnerable to the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic, the effects of which may still be felt for years to come. When their education is disrupted, it can have a knock-on effect on the rest of their lives, and this generation of global youth already face an ever-changing and increasingly uncertain future.
How our partner projects supported young people during Covid-19
Our partners responded quickly at the onset of Covid-19, redistributing resources and attention from classroom teaching to facilitating home learning as best possible.
At Asociación ONG Añañau, Peru, homework packs containing worksheets and beautiful new reading books were delivered personally by staff and volunteers to each student's home during nationwide lockdowns. Peru had among the strictest regulations in the world and many families moved back to their rural community when lockdown resulted in unemployment.
Still, the children continued to study and dedicated time each day to school work and reading.
On the the other side of the world, Flame Cambodia provided similar supplementary educational packs while regularly phoning children to check in on their welfare and emotional wellbeing. For those families without a mobile phone, house visits took place when possible.
Our partners Book Aid International, Windle International Kenya and Windle International Uganda ensured that library books were still being read by students in Kakuma and Rhino refugee camps. Fortunately, solar lamps and new, age-appropriate library books were already in circulation at the time schools in Kenya and Uganda closed down, ensuring students at least had some resources to study from.
Mid-way into 2021, things are starting to look up with schools gradually reopening and students returning to the classroom. Intouch Global Foundation will continue to support our partner projects in bridging the gap in education brought on by the pandemic.
.It’s Refugee Week 2021 and many of our partners have been highlighting the incredible work they do in refugee camps and settlements across their websites and social media.
Book Aid International is the UK’s leading international book donation charity, giving millions of people worldwide the opportunity to read brand new books in libraries, refugee camps, schools, universities, hospitals, and prisons.
Literacy, education, and access to information are instrumental in the fight against poverty, yet millions of people are held back by a basic lack of reading materials and books. Libraries are one of the best places for people to further their education and learn skills for life, but unfortunately, they often have limited budgets and few new books.
Intouch Global Foundation teamed up with Book Aid International in 2019, and, together with Windle International Kenya and Windle International Uganda, facilitated the creation of Solar Homework clubs in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya and Camp Rhino in Uganda.
Read Bwise’s story of how he came to live in Kakuma, and the challenges he faces as a teacher with severely limited resources.
Rapid spikes in cases of Covid-19 resulted in many parts of Phnom Penh being locked down, affecting around 300,000 people.
Schools were immediately closed, including Flame Cambodia activity centres. Residents in these “red zones” are prohibited from leaving their homes except for specific medical conditions. As a result, many have been unable to access food or medicine for several weeks.
In response, Intouch Global Foundation funded emergency relief parcels for the families of Flame pupils to ensure they had enough food to eat after weeks of lockdown resulted in dwindling supplies.
Last week, Flame organised the distribution of these relief parcels to families living in Takeo, a province located 45km outside of Phnom Penh. These small rural communities receive very little government assistance and are among the most deprived in the country.
Local authorities met with Flame workers and identified those most in need. These recipients were given parcels consisting of a month’s supply of cooking oil, fish sauce, tinned fish, noodles, rice and sanitising products.
We have received the exam results of students at six schools we support in Kakuma Refugee camp, Kenya, through our Solar Homework Clubs. The Kenya Certificate of Education (KCSE) is the equivalent of England’s GCSEs and mark the completion of secondary education.
The standard of education in refugee camps is significantly lower than in developed countries; schools are understaffed and poorly resourced, with textbooks that are outdated, in poor condition and shared between several students.
Solar Homework Clubs equip students with solar lamps to take home so they can study into the evening. Brand new, age-appropriate textbooks and YA fiction further supplement their studies.
Of the 2,144 students who sat the exams, only 521 are female. Of those 521, 50 were either pregnant or nursing.
One of the United Nations Development Goals Intouch Global Foundation work towards is achieving gender equality. While these figures may seem bleak, it is an improvement from previous years as staff on the ground provide practical support to the girls so that they can come back to sit their exams and obtain their qualifications.
Barriers to girls’ education include poverty, child marriage and gender-based violence. Families will often favour boys when investing in education, assigning girls to the home and domestic labour.
Together with our partners Book Aid International and Windle International, IGF will continue to invest in young girls and women, empowering them with the knowledge and skills to live fulfilling and independent lives.
Uganda is one of the richest countries in the world for biodiversity, the only natural habitat to several species such as the endangered mountain gorilla.
For a long time, much natural conservation consisted of strict law enforcement and keeping people out of protected areas. This strategy proved unsuccessful: Uganda is a developing country with increasingly fast population growth. Family sizes average 6-8 people and poverty becomes generational.
Bwindi Conservation for Generations Project is an organisation dedicated to protecting regional wildlife by educating and empowering the local community. Through incentives such as agricultural training, people are less likely to turn to poaching or crop raiding as a source of food.
Earlier this year, Intouch Global Foundation became a supporter of Bwindi Conservation, funding a project which teaches women and schoolchildren to farm their own produce. By equipping them with skills to benefit themselves and their families for a lifetime, Bwindi are simultaneously protecting protecting the local ecosystem.
eThe gender and poverty connection
Extreme poverty disproportionately affects women as they do not have the same opportunities as men to receive an education, work, or own property. Without the means to break out of poverty, the cycle continues, limiting the opportunities for their children.
Achieving gender equality through the empowerment of girls and women benefits everyone, which is why it’s a United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG 5).
As an organisation working towards a brighter future for all, Intouch Global Foundation is committed to tackling discrimination and meeting the goal of gender equality by creating better education and health systems for boys and girls, men and women.
Why gender equality matters
Gender equality studies tell the same story: the only way to sustainably alleviate poverty is to focus on initiatives to help women empower themselves.
In many countries, a woman cannot own land or inherit money, has no legal protection from domestic abuse, is prohibited from taking a job if her husband opposes the decision, and can only get access to credit, own a business, or apply for a passport if a male relative signs off.
Girls start missing out on opportunities to reach their full potential at a young age. Families living in poverty often decide to send their boys to school instead of their girls or allow their daughters to enter into child marriages. Once consigned to the home, women then miss out on the opportunity to earn their own money.
Menstruation is another barrier that prevents girls from attending school if they do not have access to adequate information about their periods, safe water and sanitation, or menstrual products. Girls are also more vulnerable to gender-based violence, conflict and trafficking.
Central to empowerment initiatives are education and employment. By providing a better education for young girls, we equip them with the skill sets to access job opportunities. More employment options translate into increased independence and income, enabling women to be the agents of change in their own lives.
Increasing women's economic equality would reduce poverty for everyone
Turning women into earners not only builds self-esteem but improves their standing in the community, enabling them to pool resources and improve infrastructure. Research shows that women will reinvest up to 90% of their income on health, nutrition, and education for their families, improving the next generation’s quality of life and prospects.
Gender equality has been proven time and time again to stimulate economic growth, which is crucial for low-income countries. UN Women report that in developed countries, half of the economic growth over the past 50 years is attributed to girls having better access to education, as well as increases in the number of years of schooling between girls and boys.
We cannot hope to end extreme poverty without first tackling gender equality. To achieve this, we need a human economy that works for women and men alike.
Our partners in the Craniofacial Centre, Nepal, conducted an outreach camp in Majhra Village, situated 17km outside of Janakpur. Over the course of a day, almost 80 patients were examined after queuing patiently while social distancing. As well as providing basic treatments and organising referrals to the Craniofacial Centre, medical staff counselled patients about the adverse effects of smoking on oral and dental health.
The importance of good oral hygiene cannot be overlooked: oral health greatly influences the quality of life and all too often people live in pain, miss school or work and, in extreme cases, develop life-threatening infections as a result of what are largely preventable conditions.
Poverty has a direct link to poor oral health, and a lack of access to timely, appropriate and affordable dental care continues to be a crisis. Outreach camps like this one provide an opportunity to not only treat, but also educate communities about teeth function, and the importance of maintaining oral care, healthy food habits, and proper brushing technique.
News update for IGF
The aim of this blog is to show the progress of the projects and charities we support at Intouch Global Foundation. We want to show you the positive difference Intouch Global Foundation is making on the lives of many people globally, thanks to your support.