"This is the only thing that makes me happy today"
‘BETE - My Home’ programme supported by the players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps keep thousands of conflict-displaced children in school in the Tigray region
Rahwa (12) is a smiling, lively young girl displaced from western Tigray. Yet at the Sebacara IDP camp where she currently resides, there is no telling what she and her family have been through.
"I arrived at the camp last November with my parents and six siblings," says Rahwa. "When the conflict broke out in my area we heard that houses were being burned and people were being murdered, so we decided to leave. In the rush, I left everything I had behind, including my two best friends."
The Sebacare camp, located on the outskirts of Mekele, the regional capital of Tigray, has been hosting families who have fled the fighting in search of a safer place since the conflict erupted. It is now home to more than 20,000 people including an estimated 10,000 children. Thanks to the players of People's Postcode Lottery, UNICEF has been able to implement the ‘Bete – My Home’ programme in the Tigray region to help about 18,000 displaced children.
"At first I was very scared," Rahwa continues. "I wondered where we would go and how we would survive, but most of all if we would finally be safe. Thanks to the ‘BETE - My Home’ programme, I was able to quickly return to school and make new friends. Since we had gone through the same experience we were able to share and that did us a lot of good."
"Later, I want to become an electrician."
‘My Home – Bete’ is a joint education and child protection initiative designed to provide a safe space for boys and girls living in the midst of humanitarian emergencies in Ethiopia, to create a chance to learn and develop holistically by integrating accelerated learning, child protection, and skill development opportunities.
"I love going to school, it's the only thing that makes me happy today,” said Rahwa. “I was very afraid I would have to stop school when I came here. I am currently in grade 6. I want to be ready for the national exam and later I want to become an electrician. Since the beginning of the conflict we have suffered a lot from power outages so if there is a problem in the future at least I will be able to restore the electricity supply to my community."
The project also supported awareness and capacity building for psychosocial support services, such as counselling for children who have experienced trauma and displacement, and referrals between protection and education actors, such as social workers and teachers.
"Now I feel safe," Rahwa concludes. "I don't know if we will ever be able to go home, but at least here I have a home where I am safe, a school where I can learn, and a space where I can play like all the other kids my age."