Colombia + 1 more

The LEGO Foundation funded project provides hope and learning through play

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The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and The LEGO Foundation are partnering up to provide children in northern Colombia with playful learning opportunities as a combination of conflict, displacement and Covid-19 has forced many children out of school.

“Covid-19 has exacerbated an already tough situation for many displaced families in northern Colombia and limited many children’s access to education. This is deeply concerning. Children in crisis settings not only need learning opportunities, but also ways to address their own stress, and the routines and sense of normality a school or day care can offer,” said Dominika Arseniuk, NRC’s country director in Colombia.

Colombia is not only home to one of the world’s largest number of internally displaced people, but also generously hosts 1.7 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees who have fled the crisis in Venezuela. About 125,000 Venezuelan minors living in Colombia are outside the education system, and many Colombian children have lost years of valuable education as a result of surge of violence in parts of the country, in addition to Covid-19.

While the Colombian government is responding to the influx and needs of displaced people, the resources are severely overstretched.

“Many distressed Colombian and Venezuelan families are left with limited support both for themselves and their children, so we are immensely grateful for the support from The LEGO Foundation, which enable us to reach some of the most vulnerable children and provide them with a safe space where they can learn through play,” said Arseniuk.

With funding from The LEGO Foundation, NRC supports parents and other caregivers with trainings on how to respond to and support distressed children's development, learning and wellbeing needs. NRC also trains people from the local community, so that these areas are better equipped to welcome and support displaced children and families as they are settling in a new place.

“I learnt how important it is to spend quality time with your children, even if you have problems yourself. I realised how much adults can learn from their children,” said a Venezuelan mother, who left the country one and a half year ago.

The mother of five was attending one of the workshops at the border between Colombia and Venezuela with one of her children. At the workshop, they created a plane made by plastic bottles.

“It will take us to Venezuela!” her son said.

“When we were making the plane, my son really took leadership, and I was so proud of him,” his mother told NRC.

Research provided by the LEGO Foundation underlines how nurturing care, parental mental health, responsive caregiving, and support for children’s learning have been disrupted during the pandemic.

“Children in crisis settings not only need access to inclusive, equitable, quality education opportunities, but also ways to address their own stress and wellbeing. The same is the case for caregivers who live under challenging and uncertain conditions. We strongly believe that learning through play can help address these challenges, build resilience and help return routine for children and their families,” said Sarah Bouchie, Chief Impact Officer at the LEGO Foundation.

**Facts: **

  • The LEGO Foundation has granted NRC close to USD 2 million to support children and caregivers in Colombia during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The project will benefit 6,500 children between 0-10 years and their caregivers in northern Colombia.
  • This will enable NRC to strengthen existing efforts for the most vulnerable families, including Venezuelan refugees and migrants and internally displaced people in Colombia.
  • NRC collaborates with Sesame Workshop whose content will be provided to the families, to help children learn through play.
  • To optimize the interventions, Innovations for Poverty Actions (IPA) will conduct testing of the program content to ensure learning and optimisation of intervention.

**Note to editors: **

  • Photos from the project, available to use for free, are available here.