May 232011
 

Orphans from Egypt have been empowered to take the first steps towards protecting their natural environment as a result of HCI’s 2011 Earth Day activities. These children celebrated international Earth Day with HCI’s team and were treated to a fun-filled day of activities promoting environmental awareness.

These children who are orphans from underprivileged backgrounds live a very basic life, they have the bare minimum and don’t normally get the opportunity to enjoy recreational and educational activities that enrich and address their psychosocial wellbeing. HCI’s Earth Day celebrations were therefore extremely beneficial to these children not only because of the new level of environmental awareness it bestowed but also because we did our best to address if only for one day the psychosocial wellbeing of these deprived children as we feel very strongly that if this facet is neglected it can lead to reduced social connectedness, a weakened coping mechanism and a loss of resilience.

Earth Day is an event that is intended to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s natural environment. Originally devised in 1970 when environmentalism seemed to many to be nothing but a fringe issue, environmentalism is now a very mainstream concern and promoting it a very worthwile cause. Earth Day which happens every 22nd April is currently celebrated in more than 175 countries every year. From it’s conception, the focus had been put on children and schools. This makes complete sense as Children have the most important role in keeping our planet healthy; they will still be the caretakers long after their parents and grandparents have passed away.

In Egypt, in partnership with the Ministry of Environment and our local partner Gozour NGO, 70 school children from the underprivileged Arab al Tarabeen area of Greater Cairo were transported to a local youth center where they were offered different environmental activities designed to be both fun and educational.

The children got a wonderful opportunity to interact firsthand with nature as they planted some 20 trees. The group was able to attend an environmental arts and crafts workshop where they fashioned some beautiful recycled art out of unwanted items, they were also introduced to recycling activities that can be easily carried out at home.

“Edutainment activities” such as storytelling and an environmental contest were offered. The children were excited to discover the important role trees play in our environment and listened attentively to the environmental information given. At the end of the day the children gathered to reflect on what they had learned and each one agreed to commit to “acts of Green” from recycling to using bicycles instead of cars.

During this celebration of Earth Day the children really came alive, they both enjoyed themselves thoroughly and were provided with the knowledge and tools to make the Earth a better place to live. Rania Abd Allah, one of the young students told us he would “never forget this special day” while Asmaa Atya stated that she had “enjoyed discovering new activities and getting new information about the Earth.”

This event was also significant as it was a one of the first meaningful attempts to address environmental issues within the Arab Al Tarabeen communities but we understand that the commitment to the environmental cause has to be kept up. As such, the science teachers at the local schools have undertaken to carry on discussing specific environmental issues regularly with the students as well as promised to carry out summer activities and organize a celebration of World Environment day coming up on June 5th thereby “nurturing the environmental seeds, planted for these young people”.

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HCI Celebrates Arab Orphan Day 2011!

 Child Sponsorship, Children, Featured Stories from the Field  Comments Off on HCI Celebrates Arab Orphan Day 2011!
Apr 012011
 

Arab Orphan Day

This year HCI celebrates Arab Orphan day in support of the tens of thousands of Arab orphans many of whom are sponsored by HCI’s regional Child Sponsorship Program, which is active in the poorest communities of Khartoum, Tripoli, Jerusalem, Cairo, Darfur and Gaza. HCI’s Child Sponsorship Program is designed to assist orphans and their families in both the short and long term. The sponsorship that is given to the orphan and their family helps towards living costs. Moreover, by enabling a child to receive a sound level of education you empower them to build for themselves a brighter future and to provide for their family too.

Declared by the Arab league in response to the many challenges faced by orphans, Arab Orphan Day falls on the first Friday of every April. It is designed to build awareness to the plight many of these children face, and to serve as a celebration of both them, and those who work tirelessly to improve their lives. On this day the goal is not to raise money, it is simply to give the children the chance to do what children do best: play, laugh, and make new friends. It is a day to remind orphans that they are not forgotten; they are valued and cherished.

The number of orphans and children from single mother-headed households in the Arab world has risen dramatically over the past few years due to war, natural disasters, and other crises. Poverty and economic hardship also have added to children born out of wedlock who are considered orphans. In a society where family is of the utmost importance, orphans throughout the Arab world are stigmatized, marginalized, severely disadvantaged and are often isolated. As a result, they are at risk of exploitation and may be forced into dangerous and degrading work, including child labor, and sexual exploitation.

Without financial and emotional support from a complete family environment, these orphans must bear responsibilities well beyond what should be required of someone their age. They run the risk of becoming adults inexperienced and unfamiliar with the values and skills normal for participation in society in a productive, positive, and sustainable manner.

Human Concern International works hard to reverse and prevent some of the disconcerting trends faced by orphans through designing and implementing several innovative educational, health and nutrition regional programs help to prevent the isolation of children, and rebuild damaged self esteem. We seek to empower these children, and their care-givers, so that they may become self-sufficient, happy, productive members of society.

Let us all wish them a happy and joyful day together!

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Mar 092011
 

Life can change for millions of families in an instant: natural disasters can take loved ones and the outbreak of war drive families from their homes. When the unthinkable happens, HCI delivers rapid, lifesaving aid to hard-hit communities with the provision of food rations, clean water, non-food items, transitional shelter and emergency medical supplies and services.

The Gaza strip has been devastated by several wars and crippled by a blockade that prevents any meaningful rebuilding, following the opening of Rafah, Gaza’s only gateway to the rest of the world that is not controlled by Israel in 2010, HCI imported food items as part of the Food Security Project through the Rafah crossing for thousands of food-insecure Gazans, paying special attention to provide protein-rich foods such as meat and fish, which are difficult to find or to afford.

As HCI continues to help vulnerable Gazans rebuild their lives two years after the war, our approach has evolved to address the economic, social and psychological impact of war through several multifaceted approaches that target food insecurity, psychosocial support, rehabilitation, and livelihood revival. In 2010, young preschoolers were provided with food, clothing and educational toys. That same year, HCI’s Psychosocial Support for Children Project provided focused support to the most distressed children in Palestine, especially those who lost family members, children with a new physical disability, children who live in women-headed households, and in families that have lost their livelihoods.

Families are uncertain and vulnerable as they return to their communities to rebuild homes and lives after a crisis. HCI helps them transition from relief to recovery through innovative programs that get them back to work quickly, which restores dignity, puts pay in workers’ pockets and injects cash into ailing local economies.

As a result, local low-income farmers were provided the opportunity to supply the basic food items and agricultural products to the bakery HCI established in Gaza as part of The Food Point Project in 2010, giving them access to a direct market and improving their economic stability. The bakery, which provides baked goods to hundreds of food-insecure households, also offers employment opportunities to local vulnerable women, particularly widows and women with special needs. In the same year, economically deprived families in Gaza and the West Bank were provided with income generating capabilities such as backyard production units.

Vulnerable Gazans, particularly people with special needs, were provided with tailored services to boost their employability such as the distribution of appliances that contribute to accessibility and mobility, essential medical equipment and other essential items, contributing to independence and a better standard of living as part of the Reviving Lives and Livelihoods project.

HCI has been providing lifesaving care and life-changing assistance to refugees and internally displaced people forced to flee from war or disaster in the Middle East for decades. In 2010 HCI worked with the internally displaced in Khartoum, Sudan helping disabled entrepreneurs to set up small businesses and teaching young orphans entrepreneurial skills. In the new Lake Nasser Settlements in Egypt, HCI distributed food and meat during Ramadan and Eid al Adha feast to underprivileged settlers.

HCI is always on the forefront of emergency response in the Middle East, always ready to intervene whenever crisis strikes, our interventions are swift yet carefully tailored to suit the situation at hand. HCI welcomes your partnership in caring for the world’s poor, including those affected by situations requiring an emergency response. Right now, our teams are working to provide aid to vulnerable children and families who are clinging to survival in the wake of natural and man-made disasters.

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Mar 092011
 

Education is the foundation of progress, but it is often interrupted by extreme poverty, war and other crises. As a result, individuals and their communities often can’t reach their full potential. HCI works to bring access to education to women and men of all ages and economic groups to help ensure a better future for all. HCI programs include a wide range of activities: teacher training programs, building libraries and Internet centers, providing books and classroom furniture to under-resourced schools, and promoting equal access to education.

HCI helps mobilize youth to influence a better tomorrow, while also offering education and job training to give them a place in the changing global economy. HCI programs empower youth through service learning and leadership training to become active in their communities and act as agents for change. As a result of this, in 2010 young orphans in Sudan benefitted from HCI’s entrepreneurship training workshops and real life “business for a day” programs, and young entrepreneurs with disability in Darfur, Sudan, received coaching in micro-business management. Meanwhile in Gaza and The West Bank, HCI also provided people with special needs with vocational training, coaching, and business development services.

In 2010, orphans in Sudan received the training and materials necessary to embark on their own business ventures. They were also given the opportunity to test their ideas under real-life circumstances, giving them real, relevant instruction on how to build a successful and sustainable business as part of the Today’s Orphans Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs project

Education is vital to the social and economic integration of future generations. HCI places a significant focus on this sector to ensure that children affected by conflict can continue to pursue their education. HCI works with communities to shelter and nurture children through innovative education, health and nutrition programs. In 2010 hundreds of orphans from the poorest communities of the Middle East were able to have their basic education, healthcare and nutrition needs met through HCI’s Child Sponsorship Program. In the same year HCI worked with several kindergartens in Gaza, supporting health services and nutrition programs targeting underprivileged children and HCI also supported the Human Concern Kindergarten that was launched in 2009; the kindergarten is located in Bethlehem and targets children with special needs, particularly those with hearing impairments.

Women are the foundation of every society. Yet for many women in the world’s poorest regions, life is extraordinarily difficult. Through innovative health, agricultural, business and education programs, HCI builds on the courage and resourcefulness of women to help them realize their potential and improve their families and communities. In 2010, Sudanese widows in the settlements around Khartoum, Sudan were able to set up small businesses with the financial support of HCI’s revolving microcredit funds, young girls in low income suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon are now able to design and implement community oriented development interventions and female social workers in Gaza had their capacities built in individualized needs assessments and breast cancer awareness with the help of HCI.

HCI aims at breaking down the sense of dependency of the local community on HCI, as a result, our projects are community-managed from the start. HCI programs are participatory and at the same time integrated development projects. Qualified community leaders are identified and trained on management and development issues relevant to the project. In this way project sustainability, particularly institutional sustainability, is ensured through handing “ownership” of project activities to the local community, this simultaneously empowers the community and ensures the sustainability of the project’s activities. In 2010 HCI built the capacities of several of its local partners in both Lebanon and Gaza as part of the Youth Impact Project and the Reviving Lives and Livelihoods project respectively. Giving them further training and tools that will help complement the important work that they do.

Many of poverty’s root causes can be found in conflict over resources, philosophies and goals, and societies are more peaceful and prosperous when citizens are actively involved in decision-making. In 2010, HCI created safe spaces where a group of young men and women from a low income suburb of Beirut from different religious, ethnic and political backgrounds came together to discuss and debate the choices that affect their lives and communities. HCI believes that engaging potential adversaries in productive dialogue can lead to mutually beneficial solutions for change. Conflict resolution today can help avoid tomorrow’s wars and other crises.

The 2010 Youth Impact Project also provided these Lebanese youth with developmental training and tools which led them to work together to produce a report mapping the challenges faced by their community and gave them an in-depth socio-cultural understanding and analysis that pays equal attention to existing social tensions, and conflicts including but not limited to gender, religion, sect, and race.

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Comprehensive Healthy Eating and Living Guide for Lebanese Children

 Children, Farm to School, Health and Sanitation, Lebanon  Comments Off on Comprehensive Healthy Eating and Living Guide for Lebanese Children
Mar 032011
 

Click here to download the manual (PDF; 34 pages; 7.74 MB)

لتنزيل هذا الدليل إضغط هنا (PDF; 7.74 MB)

Fact: There are now more than 1 billion obese people on earth.

Fact: In the Middle East, obesity rates have tripled over the past three decades.

Fact: Obesity is linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke, and certain forms of cancer. It is one of the leading causes of preventable death worldwide.

Fact: Physical activity has steadily declined, depriving children and adults of a key element to living a longer, healthier, happier life.

Fact: Healthy eating, combined with increased physical activity, is the only way to prevent the continued spread of the obesity epidemic.

Do you know how much grain, fruit, vegetables, milk, oils, meat and beans you should consume every day…?

HCI has the answer to this question, and many others, in our comprehensive healthy eating and living guide for children. Included are ten recipes for specially developed nutritious meals which use ingredients easily available throughout the region, and are tailored to local tastes. A balanced, nutritious diet is the key to a long, productive life. When combined with regular physical activity it can help relieve stress and provide an overall feeling of well-being. Physical activity increases the amount of calories burned, compensates for a lowered metabolism caused by aging, helps you to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and lowers the risk of chronic disease. By combining regular physical activity with a nutritious diet we can make Lebanon healthier one person at a time.

Click here to download the manual (PDF; 34 pages; 7.74 MB)

لتنزيل هذا الدليل إضغط هنا (PDF; 7.74 MB)

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Child Sponsorship Program

 Child Sponsorship, Children, Current Emergency Appeals, Orphans  Comments Off on Child Sponsorship Program
Feb 022011
 

From Survival to Long Term Sustainability

The number of orphans and children from single mother-headed households in the Arab world has risen dramatically over the past few years due to war, natural disasters, and other crises. Poverty and economic hardship also have added to children born out of wedlock who are considered orphans.

For the past decade, HCI has been addressing this problem by sponsoring orphans in the poorest communities in Palestine, Sudan, Lebanon and Egypt as part of HCI’s regional Child Sponsorship Program. There now are hundreds of orphans from Khartoum’s, Tripoli’s, Jerusalem’s, Darfur’s and Gaza’s poorest communities having their basic needs met through HCI –health care, nutrition, education, guidance–getting a shot at a brighter future.

HCI’s Child Sponsorship Program is designed to assist orphans and their families in both the short and long term. The sponsorship is given to the orphan and their family to help towards living costs. Moreover, by enabling a child to receive a sound level of education you empower them to build for themselves a brighter future and to provide for their family too.

Assisting the poor and needy is part of a long and sacred tradition in the Muslim World. HCI is pleased to be part of that tradition and to be able to work with local organizations to assure that contributions made reach those most in need. All orphans sponsored by the scheme are individually selected by HCI in partnership with grassroots partners. A child’s age, family size, family income and living conditions are looked at to assess need. Once sponsorship has begun HCI continues to maintain regular contact with the child to ensure wellbeing and that the child continues to progress through school. In Sudan for example, for about a dollar a day, you can help support a child in our Child Sponsorship Program.

Upon sponsorship, sponsors are sent an information pack with details of the orphan(s) they are sponsoring, such as their age, circumstance, schooling, information about their community and a local address for correspondence. In addition, HCI will continue to provide you with annual feedback updates on the child’s wellbeing and school reports.

Sponsorship continues until an orphan reaches the age of 16. As sponsored orphan approaches this age we give the sponsor the option either of continuing sponsorship under the HCI Higher Education Sponsorship Program or changing sponsorship to support a younger child.

HCI ensure that each orphan receives correspondences from the sponsor and it is translated if necessary. Sponsors can also correspond directly with the sponsored child.

Sponsorship costs between $60 and $30 per month for orphans in Palestine, Lebanon, and Egypt and Sudan. This contributes to school fees, clothing and footwear for the orphan, and money for the orphan’s family. Please contact us if you are interested to sponsor a child.

LONG TERM SUSTAINABILITY

Entrepreneurship development, schooling support, higher education support, vocational training, psychosocial support programs, health services and several other programs have been developed by HCI to reduce immediate needs of orphans and to create greater opportunities for their future progress.

Their single mothers have also been supported through health services, food and non-food item distributions, awareness campaigns, access to finance, and the development of income generating activities to improve the economic health of the entire family to help them make the leap from survival to long term sustainability.

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HCI Celebrates Arab Orphan Day with Sponsored Children

 Child Sponsorship, Children, Egypt, Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Palestine, Sudan  Comments Off on HCI Celebrates Arab Orphan Day with Sponsored Children
May 042010
 

Though Human Concern International works every day to improve the lives of orphans, one day is particularly crucial: Arab Orphan Day. Declared by the Arab league as a response to the many challenges faced by orphans, it falls on the first Friday of every April. It is designed to build awareness of the plight many of these children face, and to serve as a celebration of both them, and those who work tirelessly to improve their lives. On this day the goal is not to raise money, it is simply to give the children the chance to do what children do best: play, laugh, and make new friends. It is a day to remind orphans that they are not forgotten; they are valued and cherished. HCI, along with our local partners, celebrated this day in the Middle East.

Orphans throughout the Arab world are stigmatized, marginalized and severely disadvantaged. In a society where family is of the utmost importance, they are often isolated. As a result, they are at risk of exploitation and may be forced into dangerous and degrading work, including child labor, and sexual exploitation. Without financial and emotional support from a complete family environment, they must bear responsibilities well beyond what should be required of someone their age. They run the risk of becoming adults inexperienced and unfamiliar with the values and skills normal for participation in society in a productive, positive, and sustainable manner.

Human Concern International has gone to great lengths to reverse and prevent some of the disconcerting trends faced by orphans. By providing financial and community support, our program can help to prevent the isolation of children, and rebuild damaged self esteem. We seek to empower these children, and their care-givers, so that they may become self-sufficient, happy, productive members of society.

Gaza:

Orphan DayOrphans in Gaza face perhaps the most difficult conditions in the entire region, and their numbers are growing. During the 2008-2009 Israeli incursions, nearly 1,500 children were orphaned in the space of less than a month. They must face the violence, deprivation and uncertainty of a life under siege without the stabilizing support of a complete family. On Arab Orphan Day HCI and its local partner, the Aid and Hope Program for Cancer Patients (AHP), took a group of orphaned children out for a day of fun. There was face painting, a playground, and the chance to relax for children living under extreme conditions. They were also given a good, healthy meal which included chicken and meat. This is very important, as meat is now prohibitively expensive for the majority of people in Gaza, and as a result children face a whole host of nutritional problems including iron deficiency, and a lack of protein. The children loved their food, and the chance to play together. They were eager to write letters for their sponsors, and were very reluctant to leave when the event finally ended.

Egypt:

Orphan DayOn Arab Orphan Day, HCI and its local partner, the Gozour Foundation, took a group of orphans between the ages of 5-16, along with their mothers, out for a day of carefree entertainment. They were brought to the “Fangoon” art school where they were given the chance to paint, make pottery and jewelry, and generally have fun. For both children and mothers it was a welcome relief from the stresses of their daily struggle to survive. Our organizers could not help but smile at the sight of the children having such fun together. A deteriorating economy and increased hunger means that these orphans face many challenges, but HCI is working to better the lives of as many as possible. The day also marked the commencement of HCI’s Child Sponsorship Program in Egypt, which will match donors with children in need, and give those children the financial support they require to have a fair chance at a productive life. The event raised awareness amongst local communities of the valuable work performed by HCI, and helped to strengthen links and support networks. We can be sure that the children will not forget their special day of fun, and as they finally had to go back to their homes they told us they were already looking forward to next year’s event.

Lebanon:

Orphan DayArab Orphan Day in Lebanon was celebrated in Tripoli by HCI taking 25 orphans out for a day of fun in cooperation with our local partner, the CIWS. They were given the chance to meet, play, and eat outdoors in a healthy environment with other children who face the same challenges of living as orphans in Lebanon. The children come from families who live in poverty, and survive on donations to make ends meet. The stress and uncertainty they face every day takes a severe emotional toll, and deprives them of a child’s basic right to play and develop healthily. On Arab Orphan Day we sought to provide them with some relief, if only for a short period. They live in crowded, poor neighborhoods where parks and public spaces are non-existent. The chance for them to visit a pleasant, outdoor environment was something they do not normally get to experience, and they loved every minute of it. They started the day with a great meal at the local “Yalla Yalla” restaurant, which also had an indoor playground which the children enjoyed immensely. After, they were taken to banks of the local river where they could relax, play, and enjoy each other’s company. The sound of the children, their mothers, and the volunteers all singing together was a welcome change from the often bleak picture of life in the Mediterranean’s poorest city. The day gave these children what they needed most, a chance to escape from the difficulties of daily life, and the knowledge that they are indeed loved and appreciated.

Rights Based Approach:

Orphan DayIn all of our activities, whether in Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine or Sudan, HCI takes a rights based approach towards working with orphans. Our actions are intended to comply with, and realize, the articles set forth in the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). This document, ratified by 192 nations, is a powerful tool in the global effort to enhance children’s right to education, health care and safety. Although it is the state’s responsibility to fulfill the obligations outlined in the convention, in practice limited resources means that this is not always possible. It is, therefore, incumbent on non state actors, like HCI, to fill the gaps. Children are vulnerable, and lack the political power to claim their rights themselves. The CRC is a powerful tool that places obligations which every nation must meet for the sake of their children. HCI, through our child sponsorship program and events like the Arab Orphan Day celebration, is working towards a day when all children can benefit from the rights of the CRC.

Future Challenges:

Orphan DayUnfortunately, the checkered, unstable political landscape of the Middle East has bred conflicts such as in Lebanon, Palestine and Sudan. The deaths of fathers and mothers in these events has created an altogether new tragedy, as the children they leave behind join the growing ranks of the region’s orphans. This means that HCI’s support will be needed ever more in the future. We must continue to work towards a day when orphan children will enjoy all of the same opportunities and joys as others, and rightfully take their place as full members of society. Though events like Arab Orphan Day are undeniably helpful, there is still much work to be done.

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