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10th October, 2017

TURKEY: Child Caravan project in Sultanbeyli, Istanbul provides education to Syrian refugees

Inauguration ceremony takes place in gardens of Turkey’s Refugee Association


Inside the caravan


Six years of unending conflict in Syria has created an unprecedented refugee crisis. As a result, half of Syria’s population have been forced to flee their homes, which equates to around 11 million people. This tide of refugees has emerged along the borders of countries who neighbour Syria, creating a unique and difficult challenge for NGOs and refugee agencies in the Middle East. As part of this challenge, a large proportion of the refugees are children, who have no access to education provision at a crucial time in their development.


Thousands have been re-housed and partially integrated into unfamiliar societies. To address this situation, Penny Appeal and its partners on the ground in the outer environs of Istanbul, have set up an initiative to provide education and integration services for children displaced by the Syrian Civil War.


This programme takes the form of a Child Caravan, which can be mobile to deliver education where the need arises. There are many different areas of the country that currently shelter child refugees from Syria, although this particular initiative is tasked with serving Sultanbeyli, a working class suburb of Istanbul.


Caravan infographic


The Child Caravan’s primary goals and objectives – as part of Penny Appeal’s wider Education First programme – seek to contribute to the enrolment process of Syrian children into Turkish schools, to enhance education levels in beneficiaries through technology, deliver Turkish language lessons and to help Syrian children adapt to their new circumstances.


The entire curriculum delivered within the caravan – which is actually a re-purposed shipping container transported by a freight lorry – is designed to help the children integrate and prepare them for the Turkish education system they will eventually join. Multimedia visuals will be used, along with documentaries and lessons delivered by teachers trained specifically for this initiative.


The inauguration ceremony itself was held in the garden grounds of the community centre of the Mülteciler Derne?i, the Turkish Association for Refugees. The ceremony brought together Penny Appeal and its partners who brought the programme to term. The theme of the inauguration, as well as being a celebration of the initiatives’ planning process coming to fruition was to underline the need to implement projects for the common benefit of society.


The caravan


The caravan is divided into two parts, and built from long-lasting materials that have been acquired for a bespoke design that utilises the space available inside the trailer. The largest area is designated for educational activities, which is essentially the activity area. It is fully equipped with tablets, a screen projector and appropriate furniture as befitting an interactive classroom environment. The second area is a living space complete with furniture and meeting equipment.


With over 1.7 million Syrian refugees officially registered in Turkey, a large percentage of which are children, it is more than likely similar initiatives will begin to emerge in the future, as the current need is now profoundly apparent.

2nd October, 2017

ETHIOPIA: Qurbani intervention

Meat delivered to pastoral villages in Ethiopia as part of Penny Appeal’s 2017 Qurbani programme


Qurbani delivery


In underprivileged villages and towns of Ethiopia many people live with profound food insecurity as part of their everyday lives, because of this, countless people cannot enjoy Eid al-Adha with their families and friends, this is something that Penny Appeal’s Qurbani programme looks to remedy.


As well as food insecurity many regions in Ethiopia suffer from general poor health status, malnutrition and prevalent disease. By providing Qurbani meat this programme ensured that people had nutritious, healthy and locally sourced food on Eid al-Adha.


Overall, 12,000 beneficiaries received Qurbani meat in several pastoral villages within the Bale Province of central Ethiopia. As part of this group, the most in need were identified to receive Qurbani meat as priority, such as; the poorest families, orphans, the elderly and widows.


To decide who needed the meat the most, a Qurbani committee was established, made up of local community and religious leaders, the committee helped to organise and advise on the logistics of the Qurbani distribution, before selecting the correct beneficiaries from registered local households.


Qurbani delivery


Beneficiaries, as part of the committee also helped to identify Qurbani sheep and goats from local traders, transported the animals to the appropriate sites, provided enclosures and care for the animals before arranging their slaughter and subsequent distribution of their meat.


In total, 1,700 sheep and goats were purchased - as they were acquired from local traders - this resulted in a knock-on effect for the local economy. From the animals, a total of 51,000 kgs of fresh meat was yielded. Before purchase, all the animals were thoroughly checked for health defects and general wellbeing, ensuring that the Qurbani meat would be of optimum quality.


Feedback from the meat distribution confirms the positive effects of the programme. With improved nutritional status, and overall health conditions of the families targeted. Children, orphans, the elderly, pregnant women and widows all benefitted from the high-protein meat.


One such beneficiary is Fate Ibro Abdo, a 35-year-old widow. She said, “We have lost all our animals due to recurring drought, we are very much poor. I don’t have enough food for my seven orphan children. Getting meat is a dream for me and for my orphans, so I am very pleased with this Qurbani goat you provided me today. I am definitely sure it will help me in satisfying my children’s year-long request of meat. May Almighty Allah bless you.”

25th September, 2017

BANGLADESH: Rohingya Crisis

Newly arrived refugees the priority as first phase of relief efforts underway on Bangladeshi border


Rohingya distribution


A recent escalation of violence in Myanmar, characterised by a ‘scorched earth’ policy employed by the country’s military has resulted in an unprecedented influx of refugees on the Bangladeshi border.


This new spike in the ongoing Rohingya crisis in the region has led to an estimated 500,000 refugees fleeing the violence, burning towns and villages of Myanmar. The figure, which was released by the United Nations Refugee Agency, is however, thought to now be much higher. “The numbers are very worrying. They are going up very quickly,” said UNHCR spokeswoman, Vivian Tan.



As more and more displaced people flee the country – with those who remain living in fear and in need of vital assistance – the full-force of the crisis is expected to heighten in the coming weeks. Relief agencies in the border areas of Bangladesh, including the district of Cox’s Bazar and sub-districts of Ukiya are being pushed to breaking point, with more land needed to house and treat refugees flooding into hastily erected camps.


The first phase of Penny Appeal’s response in these areas is to assist newly arrived refugees in four critical areas of care, they are; shelter, medical care, clothes, hygiene products and food items. These four categories aim to reduce the suffering and stabilise the immediate safety of people who have fled conflict, on a harrowing journey that has seen them stumble across the border into neighbouring Bangladesh. Vulnerable groups within the newly arrived influx of people such as women, children and the elderly form the bulk of the initial beneficiaries targeted by the crisis response.


Relief camp


The second phase of the relief operation is expected to focus on the sustainability of the relief effort, however, at the present time; the immediate need of fleeing persons is paramount. This means that shelter and initial medical aid assessments and subsequent referral to regional services take precedent. After the initial ‘shock’ has been absorbed, and more funds and relief is brought to bear, the initiative will shift to a longer-term solution.


With this in mind, initial relief items delivered consist of essentials, such as; tents, larger ‘barrack shelters’, food packs, which include rice, flour, cooking oil, sugar, potatoes, salt and onions. Communal kitchens will be established to serve hot food to newly arrived refugees, blankets, clothing and hygiene kits are being distributed. Water for families and water purification tablets will also be supplied by way of necessity. In addition to this, lifesaving medical assistance to the injured, critically ill and pregnant will be available through medical camps.


The Bangladesh-Myanmar border region is an area that is already fraught with seasonal difficulties, prior to the arrival of the refugees. As a consequence of these underlying issues, the unprepared and dramatically stretched established relief effort, and the urgency with which people have fled from a burning landscape, substantial additional aid is needed. This will help to establish a sense of order and a mechanism to treat and make safe hundreds of thousands of persecuted people who have fled from an already tumultuous area they have hitherto called home.         

22nd September, 2017

Horticultural Garden in Tamba Kunda, The Gambia

Initiative set up by Penny Appeal brings hope and sustainability to rural town in The Gambia


The Garden


The Gambia used to rely heavily on the export of groundnuts, especially peanuts - as the cornerstone of its rural economy, in recent years the industry has declined rapidly, leaving many agricultural labourers with little work and few means of supporting their livelihoods. This was the case in Tamba Kunda, a rural town in the south of the country, close to the border with Senegal.


Thanks to the help of Penny Appeal, the denizens of Tamba Kunda - especially farmers and agricultural labourers - now have a sustainable place to grow crops, and a way to secure their livelihoods with their horticultural garden, an initiative set-up and subsequently supported by Penny Appeal through the Feed our World programme.


One such beneficiary of the initiative is Ousman Gibba, a farmer who works a plot of land within the garden. He spends his time maintaining the ground, removing weeds and overseeing the growth of his crops from planting right through to harvest.


He describes the boon the garden has brought him, and his fellow townsfolk, “Since we've had the garden we have all sorts of foods and a healthy diet, and we don't have to get them from town - now the people in town want to buy from us! We also get money from selling the crops. We're very happy thanks to the garden."


Another farmer who uses the garden, as part of a mother and daughter team is Awn Gibba, her daughter, Mariatou helps her maintain her plot of land. They grow mint in this area, which is particularly sought after in local markets as a delicious flavouring for traditional Gambian dishes. She explained how the money she earns from her crops helps to send her children to school, "I earn money by selling the things I grow in garden, which means I can now afford to send my children to school. I can even afford to give them lunch money and some pocket money!"


Awn and her son


The garden enjoys the use of three different types of wells to ensure sustainability and the assurance of water in all seasons; this means that the farmer’s crops are always nourished. Within the garden there is a 2 metre well, a 35 metre well and a more sophisticated solar well, which can reach water much deeper in the ground. Even in the difficult dry season, crops are always irrigated.


As the garden is a particularly important asset to the local community, it has a management committee. The committee oversees any important decisions that are taken regarding the garden’s growth, its maintenance and its overall sustainability.  As part of this, everyone who owns a plot of land in the garden pays a 10% subsidy from their income to keep the garden well maintained, which ensures that if anything needs repairing, the funds are always available. One of the most popular decisions the committee made was to plant lemon trees around the garden, to both mark the border and to harvest the fruit, which is shared between all the farmers here.


One particularly difficult problem the committee has yet to find a workable solution for is the amount of thieving sabaeus monkeys who like to raid the garden at night, and make off with the farmers’ okra crops. What is certain, however, is that if the garden continues to be maintained in an appropriate manner, it will provide income and nutritious food for the local town for years to come. 


Children at the well

19th September, 2017

Penny Appeal on the ground in Sana’a, Yemen

Food parcels and hygiene kits distributed to cholera and famine victims


Distribution in Yemen


Penny Appeal emergency response teams are on the ground in Yemen, responding to the ongoing humanitarian crisis, with famine and cholera specific aid being delivered.


The project’s objectives are two-fold, to improve the food security for 100 of the most vulnerable families in Sana’a City, and to participate in controlling the wider cholera epidemic through aid distribution.


Due to the alarming deterioration in countrywide food security in Yemen and the problematic spread of cholera in the country, aid is desperately needed.


Much of Yemen’s infrastructure has been destroyed in the ongoing civil war, with capacity to treat and prevent the spread of cholera almost completely falling on NGOs and outside aid.


The humanitarian aid is being distributed in Sana’a City’s poorest neighbourhoods, with Sho’ob and Bani Al-Harest districts, in which the cholera epidemic is at its most potent.


Food parcels delivered contain flour, rice, cooking oil, beans, sugar and tomato sauce. The hygiene kits contain, amongst other items; soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, water purification tablets and detergent.


Hygiene kits have been delivered to poor families who previously fetched water from public tanks, which were most likely contaminated. Community-based volunteers bore the brunt of the distribution efforts, with special care taken to ensure aid was coordinated efficiently to reach those most in need.


Food distribution took place in a designated yard, wherein families were asked to bring appropriate documents, to crosscheck against existing databases to ensure all those who received aid were eligible.


Figures from the end of June reported that well over 200,000 people in Yemen were affected by cholera, with an estimated 5,000 new cases daily. 

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