World’s largest refugee camp, Cox’s Bazar set to reach 1 million

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(Sydney, Australia).  A situation largely forgotten by the world the refugees here live in Bangladesh, stateless and without basic human rights.

With no country prepared to offer refuge to this vast population, families are forced live in the vast and highly cramped camp in temporary shelters constructed of flimsy bamboo with mainly tarpaulin rooves. Fires are a constant and life-threatening risk, they occur on a daily basis without warning in the camp, generally from cooking fires.

Domestic violence, child labour, early marriage and child exploitation are real threats children face every day. Personal safety is listed as the number one concern of girls living in the camp. Access to education is also very limited and the refugees in the camp are heavily reliant on foreign aid and the work of aid agencies to have any kind of future.

ChildFund and their partners in Bangladesh work with the community in Cox’s Bazar to implement programs that address some of these critical issues. Their work centres on funding small community centres that provide education and practical skills training. Given the ongoing threats of natural and human disasters, they also work with local partners to help provide firefighting education and equipment.

Lamia* is just 18 years old, and she resides in camp 17 under Ukhiya Upazila, of Cox’s Bazar. She reached the Bangladesh border with her family in December 2017. Recently, she became a member of her local Disaster Management Committee (DMC) the committee meet in a community centre funded by the ChildFund Australia and New Zealand She has learnt how to identify homes at risk, how to use a fire extinguisher and numerous other skills to help defend the camp against the lethal threat of fire.

Lamia said, “I can put out fire by using a fire extinguisher. I learned how to use the fire extinguisher in our DMC meeting session.

“Not all of us have the fire extinguishers at our shelter house; however, we can respond using the one which is installed at my friend’s house. We also learned how to put out fires by using sand, water, or stones. I also share the awareness messages with the people of the community.

“Now I have learned to stay calm and deal with disasters, and I talk with other women in our community who are not members of DMC about how women can ensure their own personal safety as women and children are more at risk during disaster,” Lamia added.

Chief Development Officer Corinne Habel was in Bangladesh last month where she had the opportunity to see the camp firsthand and experience the important work that is being done to make life more manageable in the world’s largest refugee camp.

“The hardships and struggle the people in Cox’s Bazar have had to endure is astounding. In spite all of this, the children there have displayed incredible resilience and aspiration for their futures.”

“I met girls that wanted to be doctors, nurses, pilots and teachers. I was incredibly impressed with the groups of young people – both male and female – joining and leading groups to improve their communities by teaching peers, elders and younger children on topics such as the dangers of early marriage and child labour as well as how to stay safe during fires and storms. They envision a better future for themselves, their families, and their communities.”

“However, while the support we have offered to this community is making a tremendous difference to many lives in this camp there is still a lot of work to do. Nowadays it is easy to feel overwhelmed every time we listen to the news, it’s important to know our work is making a difference to children in vulnerable circumstances. Based on what I saw in Bangladesh, I can tell you with certainty it is, but we need more valuable support from generous Australians to keep this critical work going.”

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*Name has been changed to protect child’s identity.

(Sydney, Australia).  This Mother’s Day Amy Sligar has selected School Supplies from ChildFund’s Gift’s for Good catalogue, her mum will receive a card from the organisation while a child in a developing nation will receive critical items that will support their everyday schooling. Amy is one of ChildFund’s newest ambassadors, and her mum, a schoolteacher, has instilled in her the valuable role education can play in lifting children out of poverty. This Mother’s Day Amy will give her mum a gift that embodies the life changing values she has learnt from her over the years.

[Click here – Photo of Amy and her Mum]

In disadvantaged communities basic school supplies like pens, pencils and notebooks are too costly and parents simply cannot afford these schooling necessities. Education is the most powerful strategy to reduce poverty, ensuring the next generation of children in developing countries are able to reach their full potential. Increasing the supply of these basic items is essential for their future success.

“Mother’s Day is an extremely special day, it’s a time when we celebrate one of the most important women in our lives and this Mother’s Day, I wanted to give mum something with real meaning,” said Amy. “I think this gift goes beyond materialistic things and really helps someone who needs it. I know this will have real meaning for mum, she’ll love it.”

Amy is studying Biomedical Science at UTS and while she is an exciting athlete on the court she understands the value of a good education.

“Helping children with school supplies and school uniforms is really so important, it not only gives them the tools to get an education it also helps them to feel comfortable and confident in the classroom.”

ChildFund’s Chief Development Officer Corinne Habel is excited to have Amy supporting the organisation’s Mother’s Day campaign and spoke about how these gifts change lives in communities across the world.

“I think one of the most important values that we can instil in our children is to look outside themselves and extend their support to others. For as much as I love a cosy pair of slippers, I’d much rather my family invest in the welfare of a child.”

“It’s really inspiring to see Amy giving her mum the gift of supporting a child’s education. Education has been her mum’s career, and this is a truly meaningful gift, it shows that she has learned from her mum and understands the real value of an education. I can’t think of a better gift or way to celebrate Mother’s Day.”

“Our Gift’s for Good offer a range of products for all mums from new mum support packs, to a dozen chickens, it is  a wonderful opportunity to create real change in the lives of vulnerable children around the world and to honour your mum on Mother’s Day.

For more information on our Gift’s for Good program or to organise a gift for your mother this Mother’s Day head to Gifts for Good page.