War Child, a global humanitarian organization, is thrilled to announce RISE TOGETHER, a virtual evening in support of vulnerable war-affected children and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, we spoke to Dr. Samantha Nutt, Bestselling Author and Founder and President of War Child Canada and War Child USA, to learn more about we can take part in this event!
Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.
War Child Canada is an internationally acclaimed humanitarian organization that helps children and their families rebuild their lives and withstand the brutal impact of war. We work with local partner and community agencies to invest in grassroots, sustainable solutions that protect children, uphold the rule of law, and foster self-sufficiency and economic opportunity. Our work is both complex and holistic, with an emphasis on education, access to justice and skills training (economic development) that over time helps to break the cycle of poverty and violence plaguing war torn communities.
What problem does it aim to solve?
War Child Canada was founded to foster the capacity of war-affected children and their families and to help them to find long-term solutions to the problems caused by living with the devastation of war and conflict. Our aim is to help build resilience in these communities by providing individuals with the tools to create a safer environment for everybody. When women and children are given the necessary opportunities to thrive, they can become agents of positive change in their communities.
When did you start/join it?
I founded War Child Canada in 1999 after working as a young doctor with children facing the violence and despair of war. My first experience in a war zone was with UNICEF in the mid 90s, during a famine. It was impossible to be in the middle of such violence – to bear witness to the suffering caused by war – and to not question whether there were things that can and should be done differently both to prevent war and protect children from such horror.
What made you want to get involved, and what was the situation like when you started?
I worked for several years after the famine with various aid groups in Africa and the Middle East and saw that while some things were being done right, there was also a tremendous need to do certain things differently – to shift the focus from “emergency relief” to longer-term strategies that invest in local communities, enhance their capacity, stimulate local employment and help them become more resilient, ultimately reducing both the threat of war and its impact. Too often, what I saw were short term interventions staffed overwhelmingly with foreigners who ran parallel structures with no accountability to the local population they served. And when the cameras went home, so did they, and so did the infrastructure they’d built up, leaving civilians more vulnerable and dependent on aid than ever before. I did not want to keep contributing to a system that I felt was fundamentally broken. So a few of us with expertise in war zones began to look to new models – models that focused on local people and that addressed some of the structural challenges – poverty, unemployment, impunity – that increased their vulnerability to war, famine and disease.
How has it changed since then?
Since our first program 20 years ago, War Child Canada has worked relentlessly with communities to develop long-term sustainable programs to help war-affected children and their families overcome the brutal effects of war and conflict. Using a humanitarian model that is locally driven, War Child delivers programs that give children access to education, protect their legal and human rights, and give their families the tools they need to escape poverty. This is accomplished with a long-term focus, 99% local staff, and by investing 92% of every dollar into our overseas programming. We stay with communities for years at a time, through conflict and the hard work of rebuilding, to ensure the change we bring together is real and sustainable.
What more needs to be done?
War and conflict continue to disrupt communities and threaten lives worldwide. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on fragile communities already recovering from the shock of war and displacement has been significant, disrupting already under-equipped health services, driving up poverty and unemployment, and putting millions more children at risk of malnutrition and starvation. The educational gaps caused by COVID-disruptions to schooling in many of War Child’s countries of operations will be felt for generations. Children and their families living in conflict zones need our programs and our support now more than ever.
How can our readers help?
War Child Canada has proven we can successfully disrupt the cycle of violence and change lives when we invest in education, in strengthening the rule of law, and in economic development. Empowering women and children is critical. They suffer the worst horrors of war, yet they are the key to any community’s hope for a better future. War Child Canada’s work is effective because our teams and our vision come from the local communities in which we work. But we need more support in order to respond to the growing demand for our programs in education, justice and economic development. I encourage everyone to visit our website to learn more about the essential work that War Child Canada is doing, share with your networks, and consider making a donation to help the world’s most vulnerable children and their families as they struggle through the COVID-19 pandemic and work to rebuild their lives in the wake of armed conflict.
Do you have any events coming up?
War Child is excited to host RISE TOGETHER, a virtual evening in support of vulnerable war-affected children and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic. This sensational virtual event will take place on Monday, December 7th, 2020 at 8:00 pm EST and is free to attend by registering here.
RISE TOGETHER will feature award-winning entertainment with performances by Sting, Lyle Lovett, Sarah McLachlan, LP, Chantal Kreviazuk, Notifi, Wali Shah, and special appearances by War Child Ambassadors Amanda Seyfried and Thomas Sadoski, plus David Harbour, Troian Bellisario, Sheaun McKinney, Beth Behrs, Patrick J Adams, Sarah Rafferty, Ashley Park, and Rachael MacFarlane, alongside War Child’s staff, and stories about their programs throughout the world. Hosted by Entertainment Tonight Canada’s Sangita Patel, this powerful online evening will also feature a special cooking segment with Chef Mark McEwan, an exclusive silent auction, and an energetic live auction with the dynamic Layne the Auctionista. All proceeds raised from this event will support War Child’s COVID-19 response programs for children and their families throughout the world.
Where can we follow you?