1.3 million children have been forced to flee their homes from conflict in North East Nigeria. 3 million children can't go to school. Hundreds are facing starvation every day. Many are struggling in temporary camps where disease and hunger are rife.
Conflict in North East Nigeria has led to the active targeting of education. Millions of children are now deprived of the chance to go to school. In Borno state, three in five schools are closed and over 19,000 teachers have been displaced from their classrooms.
Education, child protection and emergency support is the key to helping these children to rebuild their lives. Street Child is supporting thousands of conflict-impacted children to go back to school and receive help with psychological and social issues.
CEO Tom Dannatt said: "We have the capability to give these forgotten children, hope for their futures - like we did after Ebola in West Africa and the Nepal earthquake. We can help turn their lives around."
What We Do.
Street Child is currently working to re-establish education for 23,000 children across the three North-eastern states in Nigeria which are worst-impacted by the on-going conflict. Operating through an integrated child protection and education approach, we work with the community and provide clear support networks to make children feel safe and protected and to give them a chance to go to school and learn.
As well as developing the infrastructure and environment for a safe and inclusive education in an emergency setting, we are working to tackle some of the barriers children face in accessing schooling. As a result of the crisis, thousands of families have lost their businesses, land and livelihoods. Street Child are providing business grants and mentoring to support mothers and foster parents to set up businesses so they can afford to feed, clothe, and educate their children.
Child protection is a serious concern in an emergency – particularly one characterised by the targeting and abduction of children.
Street Child is being supported by the UN (through the Nigerian Humanitarian Fund) to build a sustainable response to these issues.
We are setting up Child-Friendly Spaces where 18,000 children can play and receive counselling; staffed by community volunteers who have been trained by our counsellors and professional mental health staff.
These spaces are supported by professional social workers who can help provide services to children that have more severe conditions.
We also want to help children reconnect with their families, and reintegrate into society if they have been associated with armed groups.
To this end, we have a team of specialised Family Tracing and Reunification officers who travel the country, ensure child safety, and work to find parents that may have been lost in the turmoil.
Families have lost so much during the conflict, some cannot even feed their children. Many children are pulled out of school to support the family income, or help feed themselves.
To combat this situation, we are providing over 300 vulnerable mothers and foster parents with vocational skills training - including baking, sewing and soap making - and business grants so they can setup sustainable businesses.
As part of the programme, their children also received school materials such as bags, exercise books, pencils and pens, rubbers and shoes so they could return to school and have hope for the future.
We have seen that this has had immediate results. The foster parents are able to save every week, and are committed to keeping their children in school.
Education in Emergencies
Supported by UNICEF, Street Child and five local partners are constructing 60 temporary learning centres across 30 communities.
For some children, this is their first opportunity to enter a classroom in over three years. We are training community volunteers as classroom assistants for these centres and setting up community committees for education.
We are also providing training on Education in Emergency to 400 school teachers, so they are better equipped to deal with children who have experienced trauma.
We are renovating 120 primary school classrooms that have been damaged by on-going conflict, and providing books, pens and education materials to 23,000 children, to encourage them to stay in school, even in the difficult, and sometimes insecure, circumstances they find themselves in.
Stories From Our Work.
Mustafa - The student returning to his education
Mustafa was just 7 years old when he was kidnapped by Boko Haram.
He was held captive by Boko Haram at a camp, about 25km or so away from his home. After three days of being held captive, he tied his shoes around his arms so his steps would not make any noise, and during the evening prayer he and another boy made their escape. Their run home in the dark was long, using a dirt road as a compass.
Remarkably, when he made it home, Mustafa returned his friend home first, and only then did he then look for his own mother. His legs and feet were full of thorns by the time he had got back.
With Mustafa home, the family left their village leaving everything behind: their possessions, their money and everything they had harvested. They have been living in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp for 5 years now.
Mustafa, now 12 years old, attends a Street Child Temporary Learning Centre (TLC) within the camp he is living in.
Although his stay with Boko Haram was mercifully short, the experience has had a clear impact on him and so he is also a recipient of counselling from Street Child to help him process his experiences.
Zainab - The mother who is caring for children left behind by the insurgency
"When Boko Haram invaded our village, we fled with our children. We were running in the bush and that’s when we saw the girls. They were crying. I asked them where their father was. They said that Boko Haram had shot him and they didn’t know the whereabouts of their mother. So my husband and I picked them up and we ran.”
‘No human being could have seen these girls and have just left them in that situation.’
Zainab, her family and the two girls; Amina and Hakeema, have now lived together at an Internally Displaced People (IDP) camp in the North East for over two years.
Over the nine years of Boko Haram insurgency, thousands of families have been separated and children like Amina and Hakeema have been left orphaned or unaccompanied. Street Child is working to reconnect these lost children with their families.
Whilst our Family Tracing and Reunification officers are searching for the girls birth mother, we have supported Zainab with a Family Business Grant so that she can set up a small sustainable business selling firewood earning money to support her extended family.
Falmatta - The grandmother who is ensuring her grandchildren go to school
Falmatta came to Maiduguri 4 years ago as an Internally Displaced Person. Boko Haram entered her village, using bombs to assault it, and the village people ran for their lives.
Her daughter and her son-in-law both died from heart attacks induced by the stress of the crisis of the insurgency and the resulting displacement, leaving her as the sole carer of their four children.
Her youngest grandchild, Kareem (pictured right) is six and is currently attending one of Street Child’s Temporary Learning Centres (TLC). Falmatta was selected for support with a Street Child Family Business Grant, allowing her to set up a small business selling small household items outside her home.
"I don’t know how to express myself. There is a great change from my life before and now! Now my grandchild is in school. They had never been to school! Before, I was eating once a day, but now I can eat twice a day! Now I can buy detergent, wash my clothes, clean myself, and even have money to go and buy something in the school! Before, there was none of this.”
"For my grandchild, I hope he becomes the governor of Borno State! For myself, I would like to continue to expand my business and continue my life!”