When Maria Emad first entered UN headquarters in New York, she had a Eureka moment. She realized that working in the humanitarian field was her true calling. She stepped out and went on to take a European Union social work course and worked on a project with UNICEF. Afterward, she started setting things in motion for her own initiative ‘One Childhood’ in 2019. Now, One Childhood is celebrating the conclusion of their ‘Empowering Aged-Out Refugee Children Project.
One Childhood, For Every Child
The project targeted the employability of refugees from the ages of 18 from Sudan, Syria, Eritrea, Somalia, and Ethiopia. When refugees reach 18 years of age, they stop receiving financial aid, and so struggle to support themselves.
One Childhood aimed to fill this gap by providing them with workshops related to mechanics, computer skills, languages, sewing, maintenance of mobile devices, and other handmade crafts based on their interests. The purpose of this is to ensure a more secure future for them and increase their employability.
People from the Unicef, Save the Children, and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) all endorsed One Childhood. The project also involved giving them psychological aid. They held a Professional Support System (PSS) camp that aimed to help them develop mental resilience and overcome the trauma they faced on their journey to safety. The project ran from the 28th of May to the 26th of June and saw great success.
The closing ceremony took place on the 10th of July at The Greek Campus in Tahrir. It included a speech by One Childhood founder Maria Emad and giving out certificates to the refugees.
The attendees included guest speakers from Save The Children, the Egyptian Parliament, the International Organization of Migration (IOM), the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, the Psycho-Social Services and Training Institute in Cairo, the Ministry of Finance, the US embassy, and a number of local NGOs.
Closing CeremonyOne Childhood’s slogan is ‘One childhood for every child’. It comes from the belief that childhood happens only once and all children deserve to be safe regardless of their age, gender, nationality, race, religion, and economic or political situation.
Quoting poet Dan George, Maria Emad said she chose to establish an initiative for children because “A child does not question the wrongs of grown-ups, he suffers them.”
“Millions of the world’s children are deprived of the opportunity to fully develop. Children living outside a family environment are especially marginalized. Those living in detention facilities, orphanages, on the streets, or in refugee camps require extra protection,” she said.
“I dream that all children can have the opportunity to grow up in an environment that values and protects them. So, they can have the chance to become adults that are full of potential and are capable of affecting real change,” she continued.
Last year, One Childhood worked on raising awareness about ending violence against children for families in marginalized communities. They provided them with techniques of how to protect children from their community.