A year ago I wrote to you launching an appeal to re-build schools following the Nepal earthquake. A year on, I am delighted to report that the construction of hundreds of semi-permanent classrooms is nearing completion.
Earlier this year we focused on girls’ education in post-Ebola Sierra Leone and Liberia. Many of you responded incredibly generously to our DFID match-funded appeal. As I write, because of you, our teams are out in communities, working with thousands of girls and their families to help them go to school: thank you.
As someone who cares about our work, I wanted you to be amongst the first to know of a new direction we will be taking - helping children caught up in the hardly known but catastrophic situation in North East Nigeria. A situation recently described by UNICEF as “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world”.
Following the impact of our Ebola and post-earthquake work, the UN has asked us to consider working in more countries where the need, especially for education, greatly outstrips the help available. They asked us to look at Nigeria. As I examined the situation, what I read made me feel sick. This is a humanitarian crisis as large as any in the world - but unlike Aleppo or the European refugee crisis, it has been largely ignored.
Moreover, with the world’s highest number of out of school children, Nigeria makes sense for Street Child.
In the ongoing conflict in North Nigeria, education is not just been collateral damage - education is being actively targeted. Since mid-2015 the Nigerian government has fought back strongly and people are beginning to return to their communities, but three million children in North East Nigeria are in need of urgent education assistance - and for tens of thousands of these children, their life actually hangs in the balance due to chronic malnutrition
We have the capability to give these forgotten children, who have been through hell, hope for their futures - like we did after Ebola and the earthquake. We can help turn their lives around.
So after careful consideration, we have decided that we must take action. We have our first plans in place – setting up schools for displaced people; reconstructing schools; training teachers; caring for orphans; sharing learning materials. We will do all this in partnership with local people and organisations who we can get behind and strengthen the hand of.
As ever, we cannot do this without your generous support. Many of you have already done so much for us this year, and I recognise that this is another ask of your generosity, but put simply - this situation is horrific. It shocked me to my core and Street Child, with your help, has the capacity act.
If you feel that this is an initiative you want to support – we would be hugely grateful. In total we need to pull together £100,000 as a starter-fund to launch our work in Nigeria and begin to change the lives of thousands of vulnerable children.
Over the next few weeks we will be sharing more information on the situation in North-East Nigeria. If you would like to know more or to support this project, please get in touch, or visit www.street-child.co.uk/nigeria - we’d love to share our plans with you.
Together we are really making things happen – for some of the very poorest and least fortunate children in the world.
Thank you as ever, so much, for your kind support and interest in everything we are doing.
P.S. If you’d like to read, or even watch, he speech I made at Saturday’s Winter Ball at the Tower of London, where we launched the Nigeria initiative, you can do so here. A huge thank you to everyone who gave so generously on the night - your kindness means that we have already raised over £21,000 specifically towards the launch of this work.
For an update on our Girls Speak Out Appeal with dedicated news and stories from the field, click here.