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Finding hope in the face of violence and conflict

POSTED August 15, 2023

Finding hope in the face of violence and conflict

Going back to school helps Efrata overcome tragedies of war

By Gezahegn Gebremariam, Children Believe Ethiopia

Efrata smiling with a notebook open in her hands

Sitting in her classroom, studying diligently and actively engaging with her classmates and teacher, it’s hard to imagine the terrible tragedies Efrata has faces in her young life.

Efrata was just 14 years old when she was forced to leave her village in northern Ethiopia because of the growing civil conflict in her community. Her parents thought it would be safer to live with her brothers in another town, but she didn’t escape the dangers of war, as her brothers were killed in the conflict.

She was then taken in by her sister, traumatized and unable to go to school because they couldn’t afford extra fees such as transportation, registration and uniforms.

For me, life had no purpose, and I had given up,” she says.

But now Efrata has begun to rebuild her life with help from Children Believe and International Rescue Committee (IRC). Her situation had become known to the team at the PlayMatters: Sparking Lifelong Learning – Emergency Response Mechanism (PM ERM) project, the emergency response in Ethiopia for children living through conflict.

Efrata received psychosocial support and academic resources funded in the project by the LEGO Foundation. She has begun a new chapter in her life and has resumed her Grade 8 studies.

This has restored my hope — my hope to learn, progress, and transform my life,” she explains. “Because I’ve always had a strong interest in learning, (being able to go back to school) helped me picture my future. I heartily appreciate the project committee for helping me.”

Millions of children have been affected by conflict in northern Ethiopia, with seven million needing protection and access to quality education. Along with thousands of deaths and injuries due to the conflict, people often face sexual violence, malnutrition, illness, and the loss of their livelihoods. Working with people in these circumstances is part of Children Believe Ethiopia’s work as a Centre of Excellence in child protection and education in humanitarian actions.

In its first four months, as of December, PlayMatters (ERM) assisted nearly 6,000 conflict-affected children with psychosocial support and access to education. The project has also supported 17 schools with repairs to damaged classrooms to provide safe learning spaces and much-needed facilities with clean water. Children have also benefitted from preschool play materials, proper nutrition, and ‘dignity kits’ for girls for personal hygiene.

The PlayMatters (ERM) project is implemented in partnership with International Rescue Committee, Plan International and Children Believe, with the financial support of the LEGO Foundation. 

You can help children like Efrata stay safe in the face of violence and conflict.  Find out how you can provide hope during times of crisis.

*A pseudonym has been used to protect the young woman’s identity in the story.

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Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60+ years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.

About ChildFund Alliance:

A member of ChildFund Alliance, Children Believe is part of a global network of child-focused development organizations working to create opportunities for children and youth, their families and communities. ChildFund helps nearly 23-million children and their families in 70 countries overcome poverty and underlying conditions that prevent children from achieving their full potential. We work to end violence against children; provide expertise in emergencies and disasters to ease the harmful impact on children and their communities; and engage children and youth to create lasting change and elevate their voices in decisions that affect their lives.

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