Plan International UK is a children’s charity that strives to advance children’s rights and equality for girls all over the world.
Plan International has been around since 1937 and currently operates in over 50 countries, making sure children in some of the poorest communities are safe and protected from poverty, violence, exclusion and discrimination.
For every £1 donated, at least 80p of their income is spent on their work – to give every child every chance.
UrbanLeaf are fortunate enough to have been working in partnership with Plan International for over four years and have more recently started inspiring people to become child sponsors.
They provide access to essential services, including education, healthcare, clean water and toilets. And they’re there when disasters happen, providing emergency relief and supporting communities to recover, rebuild and develop their resilience.
By working in the heart of communities for the long term, usually a minimum of 10-15 years, 1.4 million children are currently being sponsored.
When a child is sponsored, it could mean every child in their village can go to school, and can provide access to clean water for every person in their community. Sponsorship gives entire communities the knowledge and skills to break out of a cycle of poverty.
Here are just a few of the projects that public donations have helped to make possible.
Ending Child Marriage
Plan International runs community-based projects to educate girls about their rights and the importance of their education. They have been working with communities to end child marriage for over a decade. Their work includes:
- influencing marriage laws through advocacy and lobbying
- empowering young people to advocate and campaign against it
- providing safe spaces and support networks for girls at risk of child marriage
- helping families understand the consequences of child marriage by working with communities
- working with communities to make sure that girls are valued
- supporting girls to stay in school and finding sources of financial support to help families pay for their daughters’ school costs
14-year-old Woyzer is a member of the Girls Advocacy Alliance, an initiative by Plan International to combat child marriage in Ethiopia. So when a man visited Woyzer’s family looking for a wife, she was adamant that she would not become his bride.
“I confronted my father and told him there was no way I would be getting married and that he’d be wasting his time if he started preparing my wedding. I’m still young and I knew I’d almost certainly get very ill if I got pregnant at this age. I also didn’t want to end up like my sister, who got married when she was 12 or 13.
“I’ve also helped my friends cancel their weddings. I put a note in the box at school to alert my teachers that my friend Yekaba was about to be married. Thankfully her wedding was cancelled too.
“I would like to get married one day – but not until I’m 18 and I’ve finished my education”.
Access to Water and Sanitation
Access to clean water, safe toilets and hand-washing with soap can transform the lives of children and adolescent girls. It reduces diarrhoea, malnutrition, and premature death.
Women and girls often have to walk long distances to reach water wells. Access to community water pumps not only reduces the burden but also keeps them safe from violence.
Girls are also more likely to go to school and finish their education if they have access to clean water and school toilets and menstruation facilities.
17 year old Pheang (above) lives in Cambodia, and would skip school whenever she had her period, because there was nowhere for her to change her pad. There were no toilet cubicles and no clean water for hand washing.
Since toilets were built in her school, she and her class mates are able to go to school every day, giving them better prospects for the future. Many girls do not attend school when menstruating.
Responding in an Emergency
When a disaster happens, Plan International UK is there to support children and their families by:
- meeting their immediate survival needs, providing essentials including water, food, shelter and healthcare
- creating safe spaces for children to recover
- ensuring girls and boys are still able to access education
- providing girls and women with dignity kits so they can manage their periods, even in the toughest conditions
supporting the long-term recovery of communities
- working with at-risk communities before a disaster happens, enabling them to better prepare for and prevent future disasters, and minimise damage and loss of life.
Patience, 13 (above), is back in school after Cyclone Idai caused widespread devastation across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Millions of children were affected and in need of psycho-social support and safe spaces to learn.
Plan International implemented an Education in Emergencies Programme in Zimbabwe. As well as repairing damaged school buildings and providing teaching and learning materials, they’re also delivering dignity kits, back-to-school kits and uniforms to girls, and in some cases paying their school fees.
You can also find out more about the organisation in the video below.