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Dec 6, 2018

Fleeing to Safety

Lukia
Lukia

Dear Supporter,

The Rohingya continue to live in makeshift refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Although they have made it through the monsoon season, the danger has not yet passed, and many people still call these camps home.

Lukia* (18) grew up in the Jalipara region of Rakhine State with her three sisters and brother. Her father was a fisherman, who provided for her whole family. They had no land or livestock but lived peacefully and could even afford to eat meat two or three times a month. She married just one week before the conflict broke out.  

Lukia was not inside her family home when it was attacked by the Myanmar army, who used a rocket launcher to set it on fire. Her parents, brother and husband sadly were inside, and died instantly. Lukia managed to escape her village without capture and spent two days walking to safety with her neighbours, who also suffered loss at the hands of the Myanmar army.

After they arrived at a river, they hoped to get a boat to safety, but Lukia was denied access, since she had no money to pay the boatmen. At this point, Lukia hadn't eaten for two days and had no choice but to stay and wait in a tent with strangers for almost two weeks.

During this time, Lukia managed to send information on her whereabouts to her eldest sister, who had already fled to safety in Bangladesh. It didn’t take long for her sister and nephew to reach the border and bring her with them by boat. Despite this, Lukia still feared the Myanmar army would capture her. Those fears didn’t subside until she finally reached the refugee camp safely.

Upon arrival, Lukia was given mats, blankets, soap and a water container from Concern Worldwide. Although Lukia feels safe in the camp, she’s not allowed to work, so she receives no income. She only eats rice, daal and, on occasion, dried fish. She dreams of returning home to Myanmar when the bitter conflict ends. Until then, she is grateful for the safety and care that she is provided in the camp.

Thanks in part to your support, women like Lukia can begin the process of rebuilding their lives in relative safety and comfort.

Lukia sits with her relatives
Lukia sits with her relatives
Nov 27, 2018

Unconditional Cash Transfer to Combat Hunger

A woman's self-help group in Somalia.
A woman's self-help group in Somalia.

Dear Supporter,

In many of our contexts where food crises are common, but where markets are still functioning, we implement unconditional cash transfer programming in order to allow people to directly purchase food and other necessary goods. The traditional image of aid may be crates of supplies being shipped by land, air, and sea into countries in crisis, but for more than a decade Concern Worldwide has been helping to change the paradigm.

In 2017, we distributed almost $35 million worth of cash. And we’re not alone – it’s becoming more and more common in humanitarian efforts worldwide. Why? Because it works.

WHY USE CASH?

  • It’s cheaper. It is far less expensive to get cash into a country than it is to ship thousands of metric tons of food.
  • It’s quicker. In a humanitarian crisis, it can take weeks or even months to transport supplies into hard to reach areas. By contrast, once a cash distribution system has been put into place, vital funds can instantly reach thousands of people, regardless of their location.
  • Cash gives people choice. Instead of giving each family one bag of grain, which may not be their most urgent need, cash allows them to purchase precisely the resources they judge to be most essential.
  • Cash can empower. Our mission is to empower people to transform their own lives. Providing cash gives people autonomy and responsibility to help pull themselves out of poverty.
  • It helps the economy. Traditional aid, like shipments of free grain, can sometimes hurt an economy by undercutting local farmers. By contrast, when people are given cash aid, they spend it in local stores and support the local economy. (Of course, this only works if local markets are functioning — so in some cases traditional aid still works better.)
  • Cash can be invested. Just a small amount of seed funding can help people start their own businesses and become self-sufficient.

CASH IN ACTION

One of the great advantages of cash is that it does not need to be distributed in physical form. Concern uses many different forms of cash depending on the logistical and economic realities in each country. One form of cash-based assistance used quite often in East Africa is mobile money transfer, where participants receive funds via their mobile phones.

THE POWER OF CASH

Concern has found that under the right conditions, cash-based assistance has more positive outcomes for recipients than traditional assistance. And of course, the more efficiently we can deliver aid, the better — because it means we can reach more people who desperately need our help.

In part thanks to you, last year 1,130,808 people in 20 countries directly benefited from Concern’s cash-based assistance… and that number is set to rise in the year ahead. As simple as it might seem, cash is a powerful agent of change that will continue to transform the way we provide aid to vulnerable people in the future.

Oct 22, 2018

Hope in the Face of Adversity

Dear supporter,

As always, many thanks for your continued support. Today, I would like to share the story of a family who had to flee from their home in Syria and are now living safely in Lebanon and availing themselves of services provided by Concern.

It was the very real terror that faced Syrian farmer Ahmed*, his pregnant wife and their five children, who were all sleeping peacefully in their house in a usually quiet village that fateful day.

“I woke up at 5am. I could hear the bombing and gunfire. It was very close,” recalled the 38-year-old, who did not want his name revealed or his face pictured for security reasons.

“I woke everyone up and left the house and haven’t been back since.”

Ahmed* said they used their family car, threw some bags of clothes in it and then drove non-stop “from village to village” trying to find a safe place away from the conflict.

Ahmed* was in tears as he described the hardship that he, his family and many other refugees went through as they sought safety while travelling through their country – and the very real fear of death that they felt.

“Sometimes adults didn’t eat so that we could feed our children. There was a lack of bread. We once had a normal home, a peaceful life, and then this became our reality.”

Ahmed* also recalled losing many other people close to him as they too tried to flee the violence that has plagued Syria. “I lost cousins and many friends. One of my cousins was shot while trying to leave his village with my uncle,” he said with a deep sigh of despair.

He said they heard that many people were fleeing to Lebanon, where many Syrians had previously worked just over its northern border, and that they felt safe there.

“Just before the border we were told that another car would be waiting for us to take us to Lebanon,” said Ahmed*. “We were scared and covered in dust. A pick-up truck came and took us down this mountainous road. We hoped we would reach safety.”

Ahmed* and his family made it uninjured into neighboring Lebanon and his wife has since given birth to their sixth child. They were provided with accommodation in one of the many settlements dotted across northern Lebanon where aid agencies like Concern Worldwide provide a number of crucial services, such as water, tents and latrines, and supports to Syrian refugees.

Ahmed* said he still fears for his children’s future, but hopes that they can all one day return to their home.

“If I know the situation is better and that it is safe, I will go back,” he said. “We would prefer to go back to our home. We had three bedrooms, a kitchen and a salon. It’s my home.

“Here [in Lebanon] we have had a lot of help, but I miss my house, my village, the people.”

Concern Worldwide launched its response in Lebanon in May 2013 and has become a key humanitarian player in its northern region of Akkar, which is the country’s poorest area where it shares a long border with Syria.

Ahmed* described what has happened in his country in recent years as a “great tragedy.”

“My children need safety, education, to be healthy. I think about it, but I try to continue on and stay positive,” he said.

*name changed for security purposes

 
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