Interview with Kafia Abdurahman Omar, Policy and Advocacy Adviser War Child UK

We are proud to be donating the fundraising efforts from our current auction to War Child UK. We sat down with Kafia Abdurahman Omar, Policy and Advocacy Advisor for War Child UK to learn more about the charity and the important work they do.

Can you tell me about the charity War Child and its mission? What is your role and history with the charity?

At War Child we are driven by a single goal – ensuring a safe future for every child affected by war.

Every day, our teams are creating safe spaces for children to play, learn and access psychological support, and we specialise in responding rapidly to emergency crisis situations to deliver immediate and critical care to help to those who need us most, when they need us most.

We also ensure that challenges faced by children are widely understood and addressed by those in power. To that end, we campaign to influence decision makers and empower those with personal experiences of conflict to raise issues and advocate for themselves. We tackle the root causes of conflict by ensuring those in power understand and protect children’s rights.

I have been working with War Child since March 2020 and leading on the organisation’s policy and advocacy work. Prior to joining War Child, I had worked with a number of human rights organisations and carried out advocacy on issues affecting refugees and migrants, women and human rights defenders (with a specific focus on the East Africa region).

What programmes are War Child currently running?

Together with our partners, we deliver our vital work in 15 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America.

We are working on reintegration across several countries. We work with governments, communities and families to ensure that children are accepted back into their communities and supported to be children again after being associated with armed groups.

We also respond to emergency crises. Recently, we responded to the earthquake crisis in Türkiye and Syria. We have been actively working in Syria through our partners since 2012 responding to the conflict-driven crisis. When the first earthquake hit, we mobilised a rapid response to meet the critical needs of children and their families living in the devastating aftermath.

While initial efforts prioritised people’s basic needs, we are now ensuring that vital protection services, psychological first aid and psychological support are available to the thousands of children at severe risk.  From February-March, through our partners, we provided vital support to at least 11,198 individuals.

Over the last 14 months, we have also been supporting children and their families in Ukraine. Initially, we focused on Ukraine’s borders, protecting children that had fled their homes and providing families with shelter, food aid and cash assistance. 

As the conflict continued, and the needs grew, we expanded our work, both geographically and in scope. Education had been severely disrupted and we urgently needed to help restore access to learning for children who were now missing out on an education.

We also adapted our psychological support programme consisting of sports, play, movement and body awareness activities for children to help them process the trauma of their experiences.

This is just a snapshot of our work!

What sets War Child apart as a charity?

Protecting children from harm during conflict is what War Child does. It is a specialist charity with a specific focus and it prioritises vital needs for children such as support for the mental health and psychosocial support and getting children back to school. In addition to delivering programmes and those services, we also undertake a great amount of work at home to make sure the UK government applies and commits to its legal obligations to children living through conflict.

What prompted you to team up with Art on a Postcard?

We're over the moon to be partnering with Art on a Postcard. Their concept of 'Small Art, Big Impact' resonates deeply with us at War Child, as it embodies the power of art to create positive change. Plus, the incredible sense of equality across the auction - with all lots being the same size and same starting bid - really spoke to us and felt perfectly aligned with our values here at War Child.

We're excited to be working together to raise funds and awareness for War Child’s cause, and we look forward to engaging with the vibrant art community along the way! 

Where will the donations of this auction go to?

When war breaks out, children are often left without even the most basic supplies needed to survive. Donations from the auction will help children access to food, clothes and other essentials, ensuring they have what they need to make it through some of the toughest conditions imaginable.

Funds raised from the auction will also provide psychosocial and educational support. This will mean that more children will be able to access education, recover from the effects of war and have hope for the future.

What are your favourite pieces in the auction?

I really loved the pieces by Rita Keegan such as ‘Backyard’ and ‘Grandmother’s Garden’. I loved the use of real images of people and it made me wonder the significance of the additional images added. I also was drawn to Sarah Hardy’s ‘Remembering’ and Rob Browning’s ‘Bay’ – despite not seeing the face of both of the people in those pieces they evoke a lot of emotion. And last but not least I really enjoyed Bortusk Leer’s ‘All Rules Are Made Up’. I really liked the colours and how it popped off the page albeit with an important message that seems to be delivered with humour.

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