Children and youth who live outside of mainstream society – and who are therefore most at risk of violence and exploitation – are often overlooked. Physical, psychological, and sexual abuse happen behind closed doors; poverty and inequality make children more vulnerable to sex and labor trafficking; war and community violence uproot children and youth from their homes and families. Their physical and psychosocial well-being is threatened. And too often, cultural norms make it acceptable to ignore their suffering.
Our grassroots partners provide protection and holistic care to trafficked children, migrants and refugees, child laborers, and survivors of sexual abuse and exploitation. They work to secure children’s legal identities – a critical step toward ensuring children’s safety and access to social services. They prevent future abuses by educating the public, training service providers, and combating harmful cultural norms and practices. And by pushing for better laws and policies to protect children and youth, they contribute to a growing movement that will not accept anything less than safety and security for every child.
Asylum Protection Center / Belgrade, Serbia
Located on a traditional migration route into Europe, Serbia is a transit country for refugees and migrants coming to Europe from Africa and Asia. The massive influx of refugees from the Middle East in recent years has strained the capacity of local governments, institutions, and NGOs. En route to new destinations, countless children and youth – especially those without their parents – lack even the most basic necessities as they seek safety, and they are at risk for trafficking, exploitation, hunger, and disease.
Asylum Protection Center (APC) is one of the premier organizations assisting asylum seekers and migrants in Serbia, including thousands of refugees from Syria and Afghanistan. Working with a team of lawyers, psychologists, and social workers, APC is a lifeline for refugee children and youth, providing them with counseling and legal services and connecting them to medical, educational, and social services. The organization also informs young people about their rights, and works with them to obtain official documents if they decide to stay in Serbia. This unique combination of support services was the first such approach in the country and is now being used as a model for other organizations working with refugees.
In the past few years, APC has rapidly expanded in response to the migration crisis. APC added new staff and opened a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week center to provide refugee families with counseling services and legal support. The organization also extended its outreach across the country – operating at train stations, in city parks, and in temporary shelters – to directly distribute humanitarian aid and information to thousands of refugee families.
Alianza para la Integración Comunitaria UTOPIA A.C. / Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico City and the surrounding metropolitan area form one of the most densely populated places in the hemisphere. The outskirts of the city are known for rampant poverty and violence, and those who live there lack access to basic services like healthcare, clean water, and electricity. As families struggle to make ends meet, many children turn to drug abuse at an early age, and some families resort to picking through trash in dump sites to survive.
Working within these impoverished communities, Alianza para la Integración Comunitaria UTOPIA A.C. (APIC UTOPIA) runs a multifaceted program designed to improve children’s overall well-being and chances for success in school and in life.
APIC UTOPIA currently works in three key sites, Chimalhuacán (home to one of the city’s largest dumping sites), Nezahualcoyotl, and Iztapalapa, all of which have a high prevalence of violence, addiction, vandalism, discrimination, and illiteracy. APIC UTOPIA’s program has three components: education, delivered through literacy and math workshops; sports such as kickboxing and capoeira; and life skills workshops on topics such as violence, self-esteem, and parent-child relationships.
These activities have been developed in response to the specific needs of the children in these three communities. APIC UTOPIA’s holistic approach – which helps to build confidence, enhance family relationships, and improve academics – prepares them to lead lives of dignity, regardless of the challenges they face.
Asha Nepal / Kathmandu, Nepal
Nepal is a major source and transit country for human trafficking, and each year thousands of girls and young women are trafficked into the commercial sex industry. Sadly, even after a girl is rescued from sexual exploitation, she continues to face numerous challenges above and beyond the trauma she has endured. Some girls are shunned by their families and struggle to reintegrate into their communities.
Asha Nepal works with young women and girls who have been rescued from trafficking, helping them to recover from trauma and gain skills for a productive and self-sufficient adulthood. Its holistic rehabilitation program addresses a range of needs: girls receive transitional shelter, academic scholarships and nonformal education, healthcare, and counseling to help them heal from trauma and abuse.
To assist them with reintegrating into society, Asha Nepal offers vocational training and helps older youth find suitable employment. When possible, Asha Nepal works closely with the children’s families, offering counseling, short-term economic support, and help with job placement or seed loans for small businesses. Once the parents can provide a supportive and safe environment, Asha Nepal helps the family reunite. When reintegration into the family isn’t possible, foster care placement is available, with continued long-term support. As Asha Nepal says, “the door is always open” to the children and youth the organization helps.
Les Enfants de Dieu / Kigali, Rwanda
Thousands of children live on the streets of Kigali, where they spend their days begging or working to support themselves. As a result, they are at high risk for exploitation, trafficking, and abuse.
Les Enfants de Dieu (EDD) rescues boys who are living and working on the streets of Kigali and helps them rebuild their lives by providing them with shelter, counseling, training, and education. At its transitional shelter, boys receive comprehensive rehabilitation support from EDD’s team of social workers, nurses, counselors, and teachers. Younger boys are enrolled in school and supported with accelerated learning activities to boost their academic achievement; older youth take part in vocational, entrepreneurial, and agricultural training to prepare them for a successful future.
EDD also offers mentorship and leadership programs to develop the children’s confidence and self-esteem, and supports each child’s overall well-being through health and nutrition programs. Simultaneously, the organization traces the boys’ families or secures foster care placements to ensure their safety and care.
Global Fund for Children (GFC) UK Trust, created in 2006, is a UK registered charity (UK charity number 1119544). We work to generate vital income, create new fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness of the invaluable work of GFC’s grassroots grantees. Our aim is to extend the reach of GFC in the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond.
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