But our lives are very different. We live under different conditions. Under different circumstances. Within different contexts. Everything plays in, and everything matters. All children deserve to grow up in safety. All children have the right to grow up with love and respect. But the reality is ruthless.
Not all children get a proper start in life. There are many reasons for this. Infectious diseases, malnutrition, lack of clean water and sanitation. Complications at birth, wrong equipment, untrained staff. Or, probably worst of all, a parent who is forced to make an impossible choice: to abandon their newborn child due to poverty. How could you be able to take care of someone else, or a new little life, when you don’t have the resources to even take care of yourself?
Through our family strengthening efforts, advocacy work, family homes in children’s villages, education and health care, and our emergency response programs – we can secure the first part of a child’s life. We do not give up. We are constantly searching for new and innovative solutions to secure the future of children.
It can happen suddenly. And it can happen to anyone. Life turns upside down the second that you lose your home, your family, your security.
Complications created by adults continue to put children at risk. And when the UN estimates that in 2050, around 200 million people could be driven from their homes due to climate change crises, we know that many of them will be children. Children who are forced to leave their parents behind to embark on an uncertain pursuit of a new future.
Our job is to create safe spaces where children can be children. So, when children have to flee their homes, we do our best to make an unbearable journey more bearable. This includes psychosocial support in refugee camps, educational activities that prepare children and youths for the future, advocacy and housing for unaccompanied children when they arrive in Europe.
Even though the world faces major challenges, we can’t let that scare us or slow down our mission to ensure every child’s right to a secure future. What we don’t know about tomorrow, we can still plan for today. Through innovative solutions, we can continue to fight for children’s rights. And so can you.
Poverty and structural problems continue to drive people into crime. And crime soon becomes a lifestyle. The gang culture with its unofficial rules transforms the playground into a ruthless place, that is difficult to leave without consequences. It's not uncommon that children as young as eight get recruited. When your only wish is to survive, the lack of parental care and absence of schooling doesn’t seem to leave many options. To be able to be part of something, to be able to be someone, can lead young people into violent gang cultures.
The consequences are many, for a lot of people. The invisible grip that the gang culture holds on societies’ throats forces thousands of children and families to flee their homes. The widespread violence particularly affects children, women and LGBTQ people. Discrimination, forced recruitment, sexual abuse, and gender-based violence are just some of the threats that make it impossible to stay.
But through strategic work, we can make a difference for children, both those trapped in gang culture, and those affected by it. Through family strengthening efforts and advocacy work, we can methodically work toward a safer future, while constantly searching for new and innovative solutions to secure the future of children.
When you are no longer able to provide for your family, to put enough food on the table for everyone, the least terrible option may be the only option. To send your eldest daughters into child marriage.
There are various reasons for why parents marry their children away. The most common reason is poverty. It’s a decision made in a desperate hope that she will be better off. It’s a decision no one should ever have to make. It’s a decision we can prevent, by strengthening families before it’s too late. To prevent the marriages that occur because of underlying cultural or religious traditions, deep structural changes are required. That's something we actively work for, by constantly making our voices heard in the corridors of power. Whatever the reason, hard and tireless work is required to make it possible for children to be children.
As the challenges grow, we continue to seek new and innovative solutions to secure the future of children. Through family strengthening efforts, advocacy work and education programs, we do everything we can to keep children safe for as long as possible. Every child has the right to feel safe, no matter what their lives look like. You can make a difference for these children too.
13% of all children in the world between the ages of five and 14 are forced to work. Sometimes up to 14 hours a day.
It’s not just unfair. There are also enormous amounts of inhibited potential and dreams that are blurred by the absence of hope, or a lack of belief that it will ever change. It’s a dark, evil, down-turning spiral. And it’s fast.
It’s hard to imagine how stressful it is to live in extreme poverty. Many families do whatever it takes to survive. Often, children have to help with the family’s income, and therefore deprived of their childhood, their opportunity to attend school, and in the long run their chance to become strong and self-sufficient adults.
The problem in itself is complex. Many countries’ authorities look the other way and don’t even gather statistics. Employers hire children to push down the wages of adults, so the parents end up in a deadlock, as they can’t afford to let their children go to school. At the same time, people ask themselves if it's better for children to work in a dump than to become prostitutes.
We know that the way forward for all children is education and the presence of safe adults, so that the children themselves get a chance to grow into strong and independent individuals. Through advocacy work, family strengthening efforts and educational programs, we do everything we can to ensure the childhood of more children. And we continue to seek new, innovative solutions to secure the future of children.