By Andrea Gagliarducci for Catholic News Agency
There are about three million people without heath care in war-torn Syria, and the papal envoy to the country has launched a project to help some of them.
Cardinal Mario Zenari launched the Open Hospitals project to enhance and empower three Catholic hospitals in Syria. He visited Rome’s Gemelli Hospital to help promote the initiative.
“It is just a drop, albeit a very precious drop, in our sea of necessities,” the cardinal told CNA. “It is a sign of the solidarity of the Church toward so many poor people.”
“In the end, Catholic means 'universal,' that is, open to anyone who is in need. A Catholic hospital is, by its own nature, an open hospital,” he added.
Since March 2011, the Syrian Civil War has ravaged the country, killing hundreds of thousands and driving millions from their homes.
“A great number of health care facilities have been knocked out by warfare,” the cardinal said. “This is the moment to enhance and help three Catholic hospitals, managed by the religious congregation, that have been working in Syria for more than 100 years.”
Cardinal Zenari has been papal nuncio to Syria since 2008. Pope Francis made him a cardinal during the last consistory, an unusual honor for a residential nuncio that showed papal support for Syria.
The cardinal conceived the idea of the Open Hospitals effort with Msgr. Giampetro Dal Toso, secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, who visited Aleppo at the end of conflict in the city. The initiative is operated by the Catholic NGO AVSI, with the contribution of the Gemelli Foundation.
Kenya: Education unit lobbies for inclusion of refugee students in the mainstream education of the country
Published by unhcr.org
In the education sector and within the camps, UNHCR and partners provide both formal and non-formal basic and secondary education to refugees. In Dadaab, there are 73,394 learners enrolled in ECD, primary and secondary schools. This includes 1,761 students accessing primary and secondary education through the accelerated education programme (AEP). Integration of ICT into learning has been made possible through Vodafone Foundation’s Instant Network Schools (INS) programme. 13 solar powered learning centers have been set up in Dadaab where children and teachers can access local digital educational content as well as the internet over Safaricom mobile network.
Education partners have employed innovative approaches to the delivery of tertiary education through improving access without compromising on quality. Post-secondary education is provided through vocational skills in Kakuma (1 centre) and Dadaab (4 centres) to about 2000 youth. E-learning is offered in Kakuma through Jesuits Commons Higher Education at the Margins (JC:HEM) and Strathmore University. In Kakuma, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology has been conducting diploma teacher training sessions to build the pedagogical competencies of the refugee teachers who form the bulk of the teaching workforce.
The Education Unit forges good working relations with Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, County Education Department and education partners through consultative fora and educational management engagements. Education for refugee children and young people is a critical aspect of UNHCR’s international protection mandate. Education also contributes to long-term solutions for refugees, ensuring that displaced generations are equipped to rebuild their lives and communities – either in the country of asylum, upon their return home or on resettlement to another country. UNHCR partners with the following partners to provide education in the camps and in urban centers; Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Windle Trust Kenya (WTK), Islamic Relief Kenya (IRK), CARE, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), RET International, AVSI, Save the Children International (SCI), Don Bosco, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), Xavier Project, UNICEF and Danish Refugee Council (DRC) among others.
Published by www.allstandtogether.com
These children belong to refugee families in Lebanon. Some of them arrived only a few weeks ago, while others who have managed to escape the war in Iraq and Syria have been here for two years. They are Christians and Muslims, and learn to hang out together in this special school.
Having lived through violence, persecution for religious reasons, and lack of electricity and food have left wounds that are difficult to heal.
Diana, AVSI Foundation: “Children in general are not easy to deal with. Especially children that are emotionally traumatized. They are special cases. You have to be very careful in how you speak to them. You have to give them a very safe environment. They want to feel loved, they want to feel protected, they want to feel safe. And I think that here, in our school, that is our most important goal: to make the children feel safe, before anything else.”
Some of the younger ones, like Mohamad who is almost a teenager, have experienced closed schools back in their countries for several years.
Diana, AVSI Foundation: “It’s difficult because, first of all they are learning things that they should have learned at a younger age and are now learning at an older age. That is the most difficult part. Second of all, discipline. They are not disciplined. They don’t know the rules of a classroom. So what we do is to introduce them to the rules in the beginning. We told them what you can do, what you can’t do, group study sessions, interactive learning… We try to make it as interesting as possible, so that they can be excited to learn.”
Fortunately, the fruits of education that the school passes along are appreciated during the first week of lessons.
Diana, AVSI Foundation: “I don’t want them to start learning, you know, all the letters and the numbers right away, but the simpler things, like asking for permission before speaking, for example, or writing in neat handwriting and not just scraping the paper. Those are huge improvements. They are huge. And, you know, from week to week I noticed a huge improvement in the kids”.
This initiative is one of the 20 schools that are being managed by the AVSI Foundation in Lebanon that follows the Social Doctrine of the Church.
Jihane Rahal, AVSI Foundation: “Even just playing together without hurting each other, without arguing and so on is something, it’s a wonderful achievement. Just being able to see them play, like now, during the recreational activity they have during rest, say, after one class and another. When they come here to play ball, they are together, they talk to each other. We try to pass on these simple values that will serve them for life.”
More than 10,000 children benefit from these educational centers, which open a door of hope for refugee children.
PUBLISHED BY reliefweb.int
The rainy season has always been a nightmare for Afonso Chirindze and his family. As residents of the George Dimitrov informal settlement, four months of rain and the flooding that followed would bring tremendous hardships.
“We would be literally swamped, and would spend a lot more on health care,” said Chirindze, 67. “For a long time, the lack of proper drainage systems and urban planning were at the root causes of that.”
That was before the neighborhood, located in the northern area of Maputo, was upgraded with new drainage systems and paved access roads, as part of the Maputo Municipal Development Program.
“Now I can move around with ease along the paved walkways and streets of the neighborhood,” Chirindze said, with a large smile. “My children no longer need to move away to higher grounds and stay with relatives. And malaria, which was pervasive during that period, is now becoming something of the past.”
With support from the World Bank, the upgrades were completed under the second phase of the program, known as ProMaputo II. About 40,000 residents of the George Dimitrov neighborhood directly benefited from the urban upgrading, including 2,000 children whose school -- which would be closed for months due to flooding-- was completely renovated.
The George Dimitrov community actively participated during the project formulation by jointly defining priorities and during implementation, and project monitoring and management.
As part of the implementation, the Municipal Council forged partnerships with foundations such as the AVSI Foundation, as well as with the Faculty of Architecture of Eduardo Mondlane University to produce prototype stalls for vendors selling clothes and food products along the public roads and markets. For this purpose, each vendor acquired a stall, paying 30% of the actual value while the remaining 70% was financed by the AVSI Foundation.
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