On 20 September, we celebrate World Children's Day. On this day, we want to draw special attention to the needs of children and children's rights. Our aim is to raise public awareness of issues such as child protection and children's rights.
Why is this more important than ever right now? First a pandemic and lockdowns that drag on for years - then a war in Europe and an impending winter that threatens the existence of many families. The pace of successive crises has increased immensely since the Corona pandemic, weakening children's rights. The school closures during the lockdowns have already increased the vulnerability of socially vulnerable children in particular. Without the opportunity to attend school, children are many times more exposed to the risk of neglect, violence and exploitation. Likewise, children on the run are particularly at risk of becoming victims of human trafficking and exploitation. The unstable situation, language barriers and psychological stress also mean that children in the host country often do not go to school straight away and miss out on the connection.
Granting access to education for all children
"A self-determined life out of marginalisation for all children and young people" is the CONCORDIA vision, according to which the CONCORDIA programmes are oriented. This is what the entire CONCORDIA team works for every day in all programme countries.
Inclusion in education is a prerequisite for equal opportunities. Therefore, education is a cross-cutting issue in all programmes and on a systemic level. With its educational programmes CONCORDIA builds bridges of cooperation between the education system and the social service sector, and works to ensure that all children can go to school every day, receive all necessary learning materials, clothing and a hot meal.
The families that CONCORDIA supports and accompanies live in extreme poverty. The deterioration of the income situation due to the pandemic and inflation are two components of multidimensional poverty, which is continued by the energy crisis and endangers children. Announced social packages are only a drop in the ocean for many.
How does CONCORDIA actively protect children's rights - not only on World Children's Day?
Today we would like to present two of our initiatives that serve to protect children's rights.
The CENTREziRO initiative - network of day care centres for children in Romania
The proportion of the population groups in Romania threatened by poverty and social exclusion is still very high. Although legally equal, Rom*njas are still not treated equally. A large proportion live in extreme poverty and in poor living conditions, where there is a lack of clean water, electricity and adequate sanitary conditions. During the lockdowns, the day centres were the only place for the children we cared for to receive a hot meal and access to learning materials and educational guidance.
Alongside the CONCORDIA vocational school and inclusive primary school in the small town of Ploiesti, our nationwide network of day care centres is therefore one of the most important projects in Romania. Together with local partners, CONCORDIA has launched the CENTREziRO initiative. We are building a national network of day care centres for children at risk of poverty.
The aim is to strengthen and support families so that children and young people can grow up in their families of origin and have prospects for the future.
Psychological support for children with trauma experiences in Moldova
The Ukraine war has had a direct impact, especially in the CONCORDIA project country Moldova. According to the UNHCR, there are currently over 90,000 refugees from Ukraine in the country, making Moldova the country with the most refugees from the neighbouring country after Poland. CONCORDIA is the largest aid organisation in Moldova with over 55 facilities and runs crisis centres for children who have experienced various forms of violence. According to UNICEF, every third child in Moldova is a victim of violence, abuse, neglect or human trafficking. CONCORDIA cares for affected children and, on a case-by-case basis, for their mothers, in order to protect and support them in overcoming trauma.
Since the outbreak of the Ukraine war, CONCORDIA Moldova has also opened its facilities to children and mothers with refugee experience. The cooperation with partners such as Kindernothilfe and Der Möwe through targeted training of experts helps our staff to react even more professionally to specific flight traumas. Currently, all staff members are being trained in online and face-to-face workshops so that they can even better succeed in creating a safe place with reliable relationships for children.