War Child in the News
War Child is an expert on children living with the effects of armed conflict. But it’s our close connection to music that regularly sets us apart. While music and creativity continued to shape our media activities over the course of the year, our mission to protect the mental health of the millions of conflict-affected children we work with stole the spotlight.
This was marked by a collective pledge to garner attention at the national level in the run up to the International Conference on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Crisis Situations - a move that was met with much success.
Tjipke Bergsma, War Child Holland Director featured in the pages of Dutch dailies De Volkskrant and Algemeen Dagblad (AD) and youth magazine 7Days - amongst others - as well as leading TV network NPO 2 where he and Palestinian refugee Kawthar Aljabary highlighted the importance of the conference to a packed audience on talk show De Nieuwe Maan.
Ernst Suur, our Marketing and Fundraising Director, also fuelled the media debate on this topic. Ernst put forward a compelling case for psychosocial support to become a permanent feature of emergency humanitarian aid on everything from AD’s The Morning Show to NPO Radio 1 - bringing with him years of experience on the frontline.
Those who can translate our message best are the children and youth who grow up in these settings - those who know all too well the psychological scars that war leaves behind. We worked hard to give a voice to Syrian refugee Heba Alibrahim - whose powerful account of life on the sixth floor of Al Noor Hospital captured the hearts of audiences on the airwaves and in print.
And we drew attention to the complex reality faced by children recruited by armed groups - told through the eyes of UN children’s rights specialist Bas de Lange and War Child protection officer and former child soldier Majok Peter Awan.
The international summit itself brought significant media attention. The two-day event took place in Amsterdam in October, in the presence of the Dutch Queen Maxima and Princess Mabel. Our #DrawTheLine campaign - calling upon the Dutch government to #DrawTheLine under the psychological suffering and distress of children in conflict zones - saw school children aged 10 and 11 cover the pavement in front of the conference venue with chalk drawings. This was just one element of a creative campaign that used children’s drawings and book illustrations to raise awareness and garner public support.
One month earlier, we took this same topic to the beach - in the second edition of our ‘Peace Sessions - Expert’ event at De Staat Beach Pavilion in The Hague. The day included interactive group discussions led by expert moderators such as Christine Pirenne, Humanitarian Aid lead at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and featured a keynote address from renowned Dutch journalist and documentary filmmaker Danny Ghosen.
On the International Day of Peace (21 September) we followed with the Peace Sessions Festival. This unique event for all ages - which gave festivalgoers the opportunity to travel with Marco Borsato through 21 years of War Child - was a way to thank our supporters for all their help.
In Other News
World renowned DJ and record producer Martin Garrix joined forces with radio station Qmusic to bring you Martin Garrix for War Child - a special concert that stole the headlines thanks to a popular SMS campaign that saw fans donate three euros to War Child in pursuit of a coveted ticket.
Talking of Dutch celebrities, the year saw rising soccer star Vivianne Miedema become our newest ambassador - inviting much attention from all the major news outlets. Find out more about her in our dedicated interview in this report.
TeamUp - our coalition programme in support of refugee children in the Netherlands - was also in the headlines during 2019. NOS Radio 1 Journaal - the Netherland’s national radio news broadcast - welcomed our colleague Peter Schouten who drew attention to the Venezuelan refugee crisis in Colombia, the plight of refugee children arriving in Bogota and how our TeamUp programme helps them pick up their lives again.
The year also saw Can’t Wait to Learn scoop the UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize for our groundbreaking use of ICT in education - awarded a medal and diploma during a ceremony at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.
And we became one of a small number of NGOs with a Professor on our staff list. The year ended with Mark Jordans, our Head of Research and Development, named Professor of Global Child and Adolescent Mental Health at the University of Amsterdam - solidifying his presence in the Dutch media. The chair - established on behalf of the War Child Holland Foundation - marked an important moment in our journey to becoming a networked expert organisation and an established voice on the topic of psychosocial support in humanitarian settings.
The year as a whole saw us reach out to new audiences and share our mission in fresh and innovative ways. This wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of our many ambassadors, spokespeople and volunteers in the Netherlands and beyond - efforts for which we remain truly grateful.