International Rescue Committee
Colombia hosts the largest population of vulnerable Venezuelans worldwide. The arrival of more than 300,000 Venezuelan children has strained Colombia’s already overstretched educational systems, resulting in increased xenophobic behaviors that expose migrant Venezuelan children to bullying, violence and victimization in school. Outside of school, children also face community violence and limited access to basic resources. These issues make it even more challenging for caregivers to support children, leading to further problems such as intrafamilial abuse and family separation. COVID-19 exacerbates the violence that migrant Venezuelan children face in educational, community and family settings.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) helps people whose economic well-being, education, safety and health are disrupted by conflict. In Colombia, IRC’s Safe to Learn and Thrive Together project offers integrated support to meet the needs of Venezuelan children in primary school via a multipronged approach.
In collaboration with schools and school administrators, IRC equips teachers with skills to promote a positive, safe learning environment and implement socio-emotional learning (SEL) and literacy. SEL and literacy interventions provide a culturally appropriate educational approach; improve students’ life skills, behavior, and academic success; and significantly impact parenting practices and family functioning.
Also, IRC’s Turn Digital Platform promotes safety in the home. It provides WhatsApp support groups and online resources for parents, making activities COVID-19 safe. These resources teach caregivers skills to establish positive and supportive relationships with their children. Parents who do not have internet access can participate by purchasing credit through phone cards. To promote safety within the community, IRC is undertaking an analysis of community risks that children face to implement action plans to address risks and empower communities. The project also ensures children gain access to resources through the wider child protection network.
With Challenge funding, Safe to Learn and Thrive Together is directly benefiting over 2,200 students at 16 major public schools in the Municipality of Cúcuta, Norte de Santander as over 8,700 family caregivers as indirect beneficiaries. In addition, IRC is leveraging online technology and physically distant in-person training and meetings to monitor project efforts.
Focus Areas and Impact
|Education, Vocational Training & Youth|
|Xenophobia, Gender-Based Violence & Violence Prevention|