Thursday, September 15, 2005

WAR CHILD CANADA : "Hip" And Helping

W ar Child Canada is an independent charitable organisation Founded in 1999 that works around the world to assist children affected by war and to raise awareness for children's rights everywhere.

The year after it's founding, War Child Canada produced the biggest benefit concert in the history of the city of Winnipeg. Over 80,000 people came to hear music from artist that included Tragically Hip and Chantal Kreviazuk. By all accounts this concert was a great success particularly as it was on the margins of the Canadian-government sponsored Conference on War-Affected Children.

Since 2000 War Child Canada has had two more successful concerts and produced a benefit album that went gold. In addition to that, their documentary, "Musicians in the War Zone," has won several awards and is the most successful social programming initiative in MuchMusic's history.

Because of these successes, War Child Canada has been able to help thousands of children of all ages in ten regions of the world who have suffered through war. They have done this through several projects, some of which will be discussed briefly later.

The organization has involved thousands of young people across North America. War Child Canada has also created an online portal titled: "No War Zone" that is the basis of a global network of peace in that enjoys the participation of hundreds more young people.

War Child Canada is a part of the War Child International Network that includes War Child UK, War Child Netherlands, War Child Australia and War Child France. While all of these organizations remain financially and operationally independent, the all share the common goal of assisting war-affected children. (Look to find articles about War Child UK, War Child Netherlands, War Child Australia and War Child France in future articles on the Blog.)

War Child Canada says that they "are working to help thousands whose lives have been torn apart by war, and to engage North American youth to take an active role in creating a more just future."

The web site of War Child Canada presents its Mission Statement as:
"War Child Canada is a registered Canadian charity dedicated to providing urgently needed humanitarian assistance to war-affected children around the world. Working closely with the music industry, War Child Canada helps generate awareness, support and advocacy for children's rights everywhere."

While it is very notable that War Child Canada gets a great deal of support from performing artists, it also has many private corporate sponsors, too many to name, and I will not name just a few, as that would not be fair to the others. You will just have to go to War Child Canada's web site to see who they all are.

War Child Canada receives funding from both government and private sector sources as well as from the general public. Within the Canadian government, they receive support from the Canada Millennium Partnership Program, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). But War Child Canada says that its greatest contributions come from the Canadian public.

Very briefly, the organization has projects in many nations, and to be illustrative I will give just a small bit of information about the Girls Education Initiative Project in Kitgum, Gulu and Pader Districts of Northern Uganda. Their local partner in this project is The Acholi Education Initiative (AEI).

Because of 18 years of armed conflict between the Government of Uganda (the Uganda Peoples Defense Force (UDPF)) and the rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), the Acholi sub-region of Northern Uganda has witnessed profound suffering and displacement of people. Abduction and forced recruitment of children to fight in the conflict are just two of the tragedies that occur on a frequent basis. Girls after being abducted and raped return to their villages as child-mothers face specific hardships, abject poverty and social isolation.

War Child Canada, through the Acholi Education Initiative (AEI), has supported child-mothers by providing scholarships for education, and materials such as school uniforms, and necessary school materials for the duration of their three-year secondary school program. They are also given access to psychosocial support, counselling services and other support to meet their basic needs such as food, shelter, childcare and healthcare.

While the emphasis of this program is placed on increasing child mothers' access to basic education, this project also provides funds for the rehabilitation and maintenance of schools in the Acholi sub-region as a part of the community-based outreach initiatives and social support programs.

The donor for this project is The Pindoff Project that was created by the very generous Pindoff Record Sales company.

Another of War Child Canada's efforts is the Northern Uganda Child Legal Defense Project. This is carried out in the Gulu and Kitgum Districts of Northern Uganda in partnership with the Uganda Law Society - Legal Aid Project. This project is funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

Partly because of the ongoing military conflict in Northern Uganda there is a very poor state of children's rights there. The severe lack of human, material and financial resources compounds the problem of an absence of a champion of children's rights.

The Northern Uganda Child Legal Defense Project funds two Child and Youth Advocates within the Uganda Law Society. These advocates speak out for children's rights in the justice system in Uganda. This project also provides legal aid for disadvantaged youth.

It is intended that this project will also create a permanent legal resource for local and international organizations active on issues related to protecting and promoting the rights of children.

Time goes by so quickly, dear reader, and I wanted to also tell you a few things about the Trauma Recovery And Cultural Awareness - Phase II that is taking place in the Buruburam Refugee Camp in Ghana for refugees from the civil war in Liberia.

I also wanted to talk about The South Sudan Youth Development Project, but I guess you will have to go to War Child Canada's web site and read about them for yourself. And while you are there, read about the many other wonderful projects as well.

You can find their web site at:
War Child Canada

It is a very "Hip" site where you can learn a lot about what these folks are doing to help.

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