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Safe spaces for internally displaced women and children

May 19th, 2022

The recent conflict in Ethiopia posed a major threat to the wellbeing of children and women alike. In order to restore a sense of normality and continuity to the children & women whose lives have been disrupted by conflict, we established a protective and promotive environment; CFS and WGFS friendly spaces.

Child friendly spaces

Child friendly centres/ spaces (CFS) were established in Shewa Robit, Ethiopia with the aim of preventing internally displaced children from further protection risks through creating meaningful routine daily activities to reduce their daily stresses and prolonged distress resulting from the disaster of war and conflict. The spaces have helped children develop their self-confidence, build meaningful and positive social relationships, improve on their positive coping skills, manage daily stressors and build/strengthen their resilience. Children are also protected from abuse and exploitation as they are supervised on a daily basis by professionals.

The constructed one semi-permanent CFS structure equipped with play and recreational items is occupied by children ageing from 3-5 years (pre-school), 6-8 years (early school) and adolescents (9-17 years). In the centre, they learn literacy and numeracy skills, engage in sports and recreational activities including dancing, storytelling, volleyball, domino, drawing, drama making, and also receive emotional support from social workers and training on hygiene and sanitation.

To date more than 5,015 children have accessed the centre and benefited from the structure’s activities. A total of 254 children (138 male and 116 female) are using the CFS for education, play and recreation activities on a daily basis.

Terre des Hommes Netherlands helps the children, affected by conflict, to improve their psychosocial well being through engaging them in structured activities that reduce their daily stressors and in turn improve their emotional well being. 

Ever since the child friendly spaces were set up, there has been significant positive change in children. They are happier and actively participate in different constructive activities, They have regained their sense of confidence in their self-efficacy through learning activities. The children are well protected in the structure and can attest to a sense of normalcy in theire lives.

Women and Girls Friendly Spaces (WGFS)

In Ataye IDP site, a safe space/centre for women and girls has also been established. They  can go to feel safer, access information and support, participate in activities, build their networks and strengthen relationships with peers. Additionally, they have access to a wide range of information and support from their peers, have access to discrete clinical care (especially for GBV survivors)  and sexual and reproductive health services.

Every week, the girls and women jointly meet up at the center. They hold open discussions and share views and experiences on GBV prevention and mitigation responses, harmful traditional practices, how to ensure confidentiality, how to support GBV survivors including referral mechanisms, positive parenting skills, and how to resolve conflict. They also take part in the coffee ceremony and share their skills and knowledge with each other such as spinning cotton, crocheting, and making coffee mattes.

Now we have a place to come together to discuss our issues and help each other”. Our mental well being has improved significantly and we are empowered. Thank you TdH NL for helping us restore our lives. One of the women shared.

Through these friendly spaces, children are able to play, learn and socialise and express themselves as they rebuild their lives whereas girls and young women are able to socialise, re-build their social networks, acquire and focus on enhancing relevant skills, learn about reporting & referral of cases, and access multi sectoral GBV response services & information. 

The intervention in Ethiopia has brought about a positive impact among children, adolescent girls and women at risk. We are slowly helping them restore their lives after severely being affected by the conflict.

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