This Universal Children’s Day, Islamic Relief celebrates the incredible resilience of children – and calls for more action to protect them from harm.

Every year, Islamic Relief helps millions of children in crisis around the world. During these difficult times they are most at risk of violence, abuse and exploitation in all forms.

Changing the lives – and futures – of vulnerable children

Islamic Relief has been helping 11-year old Faiza, who faced dire conditions and an uncertain future in a refugee camp in Kenya. Faiza, who lives with her mother and brother, had only a worn out tent to call home.

Then we offered to help.

Faiza used to live with her family in a worn out tent in Dadaab refugee camp.

“When my daughter was first enrolled in the Islamic Relief sponsorship programme [in 2011] I felt very happy,” said her mother, Halima. “This came at our hour of need.”

Our orphan sponsorship scheme provides families with a regular stipend to cover their basic needs – and make sure the sponsored child can go to school. Enterprising Halima managed to save some of the money to improve her family’s circumstances.

“I bought two goats that gave us milk. One of the goats gave birth and we had more milk, and I was able to save more [money].

“In the second year… I used savings to build a [small] house made of mud walls and iron sheets for roofing,” Halima explained. She has also set up a kiosk selling food and bought a sewing machine to earn extra money.

The future is now looking brighter for Faiza. Improved living conditions mean she can concentrate on her studies, and get closer to her dream of being a teacher:

“I want to learn and continue with my education up to university. I feel blessed,” she says.

Faiza, who is sponsored by Islamic Relief, helps her mother in their small shop.

Tens of thousands of vulnerable families rely on Islamic Relief

Our sponsorship scheme, which supports over 63,000 children in 28 countries, has been a lifeline for Sabreen since she was a little girl.

Her father died just before she was born, leaving her mother struggling to provide for the family in poverty-stricken Gaza.

“Thank God I found someone to take care of me,” said Sabreen, now 20-years old, describing the day she joined our orphan sponsorship programme, “Islamic Relief did not leave me alone.”

Sabreen tells Islamic Relief she buys essentials like food and clothes with the regular stipend from our sponsorship scheme.

Happy to be able to afford basic necessities, Sabreen, who has a disability, is determined to enjoy her newfound independence after receiving a mobility scooter from Islamic Relief:

“I will not stay at home like before. I will try to go out and have as much fun as I can.”

As well as our orphan sponsorship scheme, we run a project that makes sure we consider the needs of children of all ages and abilities in our work. The scheme will introduce dedicated protection and inclusion staff to 12 Islamic Relief country offices.

Using faith to end violence and exploitation

“Islamic Relief keeps the rights of children at the forefront of all our interventions,” says our Child Protection and Inclusion Advisor, Neelam Fida. “Particularly at times of crisis, when children – especially children with disabilities – face greater risks.”

In our efforts to protect children and promote their God-given rights, Islamic Relief draws on faith teachings which speak of love and compassion for children, explains Neelam.

“To protect children from all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation, we have to get families, faith leaders, and communities themselves involved. To do this we need a deep understanding of faith and culture – so for some years now Islamic Relief has been strengthening its faith literacy.”

Faith leader Molvi Mohammed Anwar of Dalbindin, Pakistan, is among those now helping to end the cycle of violence and exploitation.

Islamic Relief has revolutionised my way of thinking and encouraged me to play an active role as a faith leader to bring [about] positive change in my community and support the rights of the most vulnerable members of the community – women and children,” he says.

Greater child protection focus needed to keep children safe

But there is still much to be done to protect children in crisis around the world.

“To help the world’s most vulnerable children, greater focus on programmes that integrate child protection principles is desperately needed,” adds Neelam.

“And organisations and bodies working to improve their lives must get better at working together to increase the positive impact of such programmes.”

With your support Islamic Relief can continue to help vulnerable children around the world. Together we can improve their lives and help to protect them from harm. Please donate now.

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