1.45m refugees live in Uganda, including over 1 million people from South Sudan.
Uganda maintains an open-door policy for refugees – allowing families to settle, work and build a life while they wait to return home. But Uganda’s health and education systems were stretched even before refugees began arriving, and are struggling to cope.
Young people make up a third of the refugees who continue to arrive daily, and 57% of school-aged refugee children are out of school. Last year, the UN was able to offer counselling to only 5,000 refugees. This leaves deeply traumatised children with few options for processing their experiences and continuing to learn.
Supporting young refugees
We are working with local NGO the Transcultural Psychosocial Organisation (TPO) to help them create reading spaces in the Child Friendly Spaces that the organisation runs in Bidi Bidi and Adjumani refugee settlements.
The safe spaces run by TPO offer the opportunity for children to play and regain a sense of normalcy. In these safe spaces staff, social workers and specially trained animators are on hand to help children process their traumatic experiences.
Engaging in reading has also been shown to be helpful for children as they recover from trauma, with escape into a story offering a sense of normalcy and joy. But up until now they have had no books.
We have now created reading spaces in eight of TPO’s Child Friendly Spaces, each of which is stocked with over 500 carefully selected, brand new books.
In addition to reading spaces in the eight children’s spaces, the project will also create small school libraries in 24 surrounding schools, supporting children’s reading as they transition into a new school system. Each school has received over 200 books.
TPO staff have not previously had books or libraries, so we have also provided a three-day training course for 24 TPO staff and teachers.
Together, these elements will create access to books for 8,000 of the world’s most vulnerable children – offering the chance to return to reading or discover books for the first time.
This project is possible through the generosity of players of People’s Postcode Lottery. We would like to thank players for their support.
Header image credit: EC/ECHO/Malini Morzaria