Every third person in Kosovo lives below the poverty line, meanwhile unemployment rises to above 30%. Due to socio-economic factors, many families cannot afford to provide their children with a meaningful leisure time and proper school preparation. To support children’s social, cognitive and creative development, Terre des hommes (Tdh) and its partners organize summer camps and schools, and after-school activities throughout the year.
Many children in Kosovo experience hardships, some because their families are in need and engage in unsafe migration, and others because they live in residential institutions or dwell on the streets. Due to discrimination and marginalization, children from Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities are the most vulnerable in Kosovo. Moreover, some children with such backgrounds, and those who were repatriated from Western European countries, do not attend school and are forced to work. Through summer camps and after-school classes, Terre des hommes gives disadvantaged children the opportunity to be part of “the children’s world”.
During the last summer, about 650 children attended the summer camps organized by Tdh and its local partners in five municipalities. These summer camps offer a secure environment to children, where they share ideas and experiences with each other, enjoy their time by playing various games and learn about their rights and responsibilities through psychosocial activities. “We truly notice the impact of psychosocial activities. They enable children to create a sense of belonging, self-worth and value, self-esteem and well-being. As a result, children develop trust and respect among each other, and establish meaningful friendships and social ties. It is also very important that here they interact with supportive adults,” says Ester Čelić, Field Community Mediator.
Tdh also aims to decrease school drop-out rates, foster inclusiveness and improve the quality of education. Therefore, a number of summer school programmess are based on a particular methodology that prepares children for the next school year. “Now I better understand a subject that I was not confident about and this will make the next school year a bit easier. But the part that I enjoyed the most was making postcards for the end of the year holidays. With my classmates, we shared memories from other years and we laughed a lot,” tells Redon, a 9 year-old boy. Throughout the year, children can attend learning after-school classes which are held in educational centers. Tdh manages eighteen such centers, annually providing assistance to approximately 450 children enrolled in primary and lower secondary education. Another way of supporting children’ school integration is through activities organized by peer educators who are mentored by academic personnel trained by Tdh.
To further help children to integrate into regular school, Tdh provides some families with direct aid, including a food and hygienic pack, books and school supplies. On the other hand, awareness raising activities are organized, to fight stigma and discrimination, and make the school a friendlier place for disadvantaged children.
The after-school and summer school activities are carried out implemented within “Improving access and (re)integration in basic education of Migrant and Returned Children and Families in Kosovo” project funded by GIZ, and “Child Protection Safety Net III” project funded by MEDICOR.