Access to education is vital to create sustainable, strong and resilient communities prepared to thrive in even the most challenging circumstances. Despite being an inherent human right, millions of children around the world are denied access to quality education. Even in emergencies, the need for education is a priority as it creates opportunities for children and youth to develop. Children displaced from their homes living in refugee camps and settlements due to conflict, environmental stressors and political instability are particularly vulnerable. They are at high risk for violence, child labor, child marriages, prostitution, child trafficking and recruitment as child soldiers. Education can often provide protection against such abuses.
IDRF implements educational programming in countries where it is largely inaccessible. Through strong partnerships with local grassroots organizations, our work in education is diverse, innovative and meets the most immediate needs of each community.
In Turkey, we operate schools for 200 Syrian refugees that escaped an unending civil war. In Gaza, IDRF supports one of the largest educational centers in the country, providing over 12,500 children and youth with programming in visual arts, science, technology and literacy. In Pakistan, we reformed one of Karachi’s largest all girls’ schools, transforming the lives of 900 young girls with access to academic and co-curricular programming. In India, IDRF is operating an all-boys school and boarding facility providing 300 orphaned and homeless boys with an education, meals and boarding.
In 2020, IDRF will launch Education in Emergencies, a campaign to assist thousands of refugee and internally displaced children and youth in Bangladesh, Palestine, Syria, Yemen and Somalia. Many who benefit will be young women like Resham Harrison. Resham is one of 25 individuals from rural Tharparkar attending IDRF’s two-year midwifery training program in Karachi. She sent us a letter last year that outlined the pressure her family faced when she left home for Karachi to pursue an education. “Our relatives and neighbors used to question my mother and ask: What will you get from sending her to school, what work is she ever going to do? Make her stay at home.” In approximately one-year, Resham will graduate as a Certified Midwife through the Pakistan Nursing Council (PNC) and will provide care and perform deliveries to prospective mothers in a country with high maternal and infant mortality rates.
This pandemic has emptied classrooms, silenced gymnasiums, cancelled field trips and postponed graduation ceremonies. As sad as these images and realities are, they are temporary. However, the education young people will access lasts forever. By supporting one child, one teacher, or one after school program, you are supporting an entire community through the educational development of its people and instilling a collective optimism for families like Reshma Harrison’s.
Sabrina Natale is a Program Manager at the International Development and Relief Foundation (IDRF). Sabrina currently manages a diverse portfolio of sustainable development and humanitarian relief projects across Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. During her time at IDRF, Sabrina has led a number of new initiatives including the design and implementation of targeted impact reporting assessments and designing IDRF’s education in emergencies programming in Somalia and Bangladesh. Prior to joining IDRF in 2018, Sabrina worked with the NATO Association of Canada (NAOC) as a junior researcher and with Doctors Without Borders within the programming unit.