The Comprehensive School Safety Framework 2022-2030 for Child Rights and Resilience in the Education Sector – Launch in LAC

RET participated in the “Comprehensive School Safety Framework (CSSF) 2022- 2030” for Child Rights and Resilience in the Education Sector –Webinar- Launch in LAC by answering multiple questions, providing recommendations, and reflecting on the implementation of the new CSSF 2022-2030. The “Comprehensive School Safety Framework (CSSF) 2022- 2030” supports the education sector policy-makers, planners, school administrators, and their partners to promote child rights, sustainability, and resilience in the education sector. The framework provides a comprehensive approach to resilience and safety from all hazards and all risks confronting education and child protection sector populations, systems, and programs. It supports access, quality, and management strategies in the education sector.

In September 2022, the global launch of the Comprehensive School Safety Framework 2022-2030 took place through a webinar organized by the Global Alliance for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience in the Education Sector (GADRRRES). A series of regional and national launch events were planned. On January 19, 2023, the new Comprehensive School Safety Framework 2022-2030 for Child Rights and Resilience in the Education Sector was launched for countries in Latin America and the Caribbean through a webinar aimed to: 
(1) Reflect on the progress related to school safety since the creation of the CSSF in 2012 and present the revised CSSF 2022-2030 in the current context. 
(2)Show the impact of government support, the scope of CSSF implementation to date, and the importance of supporting its activities. 

As a member of the LAC Regional Education Group, RET took part in the webinar launch in LAC through its representative Mrs. Maria-Antonia Gonzalez (RET Country Director – Ecuador) to share RET’s experience and expertise working in more than 32 countries worldwide, including nine countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (Belize, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela) by answering several questions, providing recommendations and reflecting on the implementation of the new CSSF 2022-2030. 

You can watch the full webinar by below! 

Why is School Safety Necessary to Transform Education?  
The pandemic and the closure of schools in LAC left around 170 million children out of school in an average of 58 weeks, together with other factors such as the low effectiveness and coverage of virtual education (connectivity barriers, pedagogical limitations, etc.) have caused significant learning losses. A World Bank study in LAC reveals that after the pandemic, around 4 out of 5, students would not be able to adequately understand and interpret a text of moderate length, projecting that “learning poverty” in LAC increased by more than 26.7%, reaching 79% in 2022 (World Bank Document).

The growing threats to the safety of children and adolescents and education due to climate change, the increase in conflicts, migration, and forced displacement, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, posed a challenge to the education systems to effectively generate public policies that can facilitate the transformation of education. This education transformation must guarantee the educational inclusion of all children and adolescents and the safety of the academic community to threats and risks, providing quality education, holistic learning, and the development of competencies and skills for life, leaving no child behind. 

The transformation of education in a post-pandemic context and under the “all hazards, all risks” approach requires recovering teaching and learning impacted negatively by the school closures. On one hand, this can be achieved by prioritizing education, reintegrating drop-outs and ensuring retention, ensuring the well-being of children and adolescents, and finally improving the capacities of teachers to respond to challenges following the standards of Education in Emergencies(EiE), and the Comprehensive School Safety Framework 2022-2030.

 On the other hand, developing comprehensive school safety plans using a participatory approach to protect students, educators, and staff from harm in schools and other learning spaces limit disruptions to learning in the face of shocks, stresses, hazards, and threats of all kinds, and ensuring continuity of education and protection of children, and finally promoting the knowledge and skills of learners to contribute to risk reduction, resilience building, and sustainable development.

What can we do to encourage and facilitate coordinated efforts? 
The socio-ecological model recognizes that children’s well-being depends on the broader and interdependent systems that they are part of: the micro-system of households and families; meso systems of schools and communities; macro-system of social systems, governance and policies, and chronosystems that place us in particular contexts of time and culture, and the linkages between these. This is consistent with a “whole of society” approach to risk reduction, resilience, and environmental sustainability.

How can we encourage the involvement of different educational actors in the region? 
The collective impact approach becomes essential at the “society” level. It recognizes that resolving complex social problems requires multi-stakeholder and multisectoral engagement.
The five necessary components for success are:

  1. A common agenda.
  2. Measurable and SMART data and results.
  3. Mutually reinforcing activities.
  4. Open and continuous communication.
  5. A backbone facilitating organization.

The CSS Framework itself is our common agenda for positive change.
The CSS Targets and Indicators provide shared measurements for data and results. The operational guidance that we developed supports mutually reinforcing activities. 

The CSSF outlines that risk reduction and resilience building require a comprehensive approach that encompasses a “whole of society” and “all-hazards” approach. Research and experience remind us of the tremendous value of children and youth participation in all aspects of planning for the future. This is the most adapted way to identify and sustainably address the barriers that can interfere with children’s equitable access to safe, continuous, and quality education. Education sector duty-bearers face the compounding effects of multiple hazards, including natural and technological threats, climate change, epidemics and pandemics (such as COVID-19), violence, conflict, and everyday threats. These will have permanent impacts on the development of children and societies. These impacts are felt differently due to gender, disability, and social inequalities. We must take action now!

You can download the CSSF manuals in English and Spanish here!

RET Partnership Engagement at Global and Regional levels
Since 2018, RET has been an active member of the “Global Alliance for Disaster Risk Reduction & Resilience in the Education Sector (GADRRRES)” a multi-stakeholder platform comprised of UN Agencies, International Non-Governmental Agencies, other leading humanitarian and development organizations, and similar regional alliances, advocating for and supporting child rights, resilience and sustainability in the education sector. RET is working to strengthen coordination, increase knowledge, and advocate for risk reduction education and safety in the education sector, in line with the Sendai Framework for DRR in support of the Sustainable Development Goals and on the three pillars of the Comprehensive School Safety Framework.
RET is also a member of “The Regional Education Group for Latin America and the Caribbean,” established in 2011 within the framework of REDLAC[1] to support the Ministries of Education and the coordination mechanisms for emergency responses in the education sector (including risk management, disasters, and migration.) It also supports actions based on the Sendai Framework for Disaster Reduction (SFDRR), the World Initiative for Safe Schools (WISS), and the Global Education Cluster (GEC), to guarantee the right to education of all boys, girls, adolescents, and young people in the region.
To ensure coherence in terms of coordination in the educational response and the context of the growing dimension of internal and external displacement throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, this group also participates on behalf of the Education Sector in the Coordination Platform Regional Inter-institutional for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela (R4V). The group is co-led by UNICEF and Save the Children and is comprised of UNHCR, AECID, CNR, ECHO, IFRC, INEE, OCHA, IOM, UN WOMEN, UNAIDS, PLAN International, RET, UNDRR, UNESCO, and WORLD VISION.

[1] The Regional Group on Risks, Emergencies and Disasters for Latin America and the Caribbean (REDLAC) is a regional coordination platform for disaster preparedness and response, which emerged as a way to stimulate joint understanding and analysis and rapprochement from the regional level at the global level and at the national level.

El Marco Integral de Seguridad Escolar 2022-2030 para los Derechos del Niño y la Resiliencia en el Sector Educativo – Lanzamiento en ALC

RET participó en la webinar de lanzamiento para LAC del  “Marco Integral de Seguridad Escolar (CSSF) 2022- 2030” para los Derechos del Niño y la Resiliencia en el Sector Educativo, respondiendo a múltiples preguntas, proporcionando recomendaciones y reflexionando sobre la implementación del nuevo CSSF 2022-2030.  El Marco, apoya a los responsables de la formulación de políticas del sector educativo, planificadores, administradores escolares y sus socios para promover los derechos de la niñez, la sostenibilidad y la resiliencia en el sector educativo. Ofrece un enfoque integral de la resiliencia y la seguridad frente a todos los peligros y todos los riesgos a los que se enfrentan las poblaciones, los sistemas y los programas del sector de la educación y la protección de la infancia. Apoya las estrategias de acceso, calidad y gestión en el sector educativo.

En septiembre de 2022, tuvo lugar el lanzamiento mundial del Marco Integral de Seguridad Escolar 2022-2030, a través de un seminario web, organizado por la Alianza Mundial para la Reducción del Riesgo de Desastres y la Resiliencia en el Sector Educativo (GADRRRES). Se planificó una serie de actos de lanzamiento regionales y nacionales. El 19 de enero de 2023, se lanzó el nuevo Marco Integral de Seguridad Escolar 2022-2030 (CSSF) para los Derechos de la Niñez y la Resiliencia en el Sector Educativo para los países de América Latina y el Caribe a través de un webinar dirigido a: 

•          Reflexionar sobre los avances en materia de seguridad escolar desde la creación del CSSF en 2012 y presentar el CSSF 2022-2030 revisado en el contexto actual. 

•          Mostrar el impacto de los apoyos gubernamentales y los alcances de la implementación del CSSF hasta la fecha, así como la importancia de respaldar sus actividades.

Como miembro del Grupo Regional de Educación de LAC, RET participó en el lanzamiento del webinar en LAC a través de su representante la Sra. María Antonia González (Directora de País de RET – Ecuador) para compartir la experiencia y conocimientos de RET trabajando en más de 32 países en todo el mundo, incluyendo nueve países de América Latina y el Caribe (Belice, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, República Dominicana, México, Panamá, Perú y Venezuela) respondiendo a varias preguntas, proporcionando recomendaciones y reflexionando sobre la implementación del nuevo CSSF 2022-2030.

Puede ver el seminario web completo haciendo clic aquí.

¿Por qué es necesaria la seguridad escolar para transformar la educación?
Las crecientes amenazas a la seguridad de los niños, niñas y adolescentes, a la educación como consecuencia del cambio climático, el aumento de los conflictos, la migración y el desplazamiento forzado y la pandemia del COVID-19, suponen un desafío para los sistemas educativos en la generación de políticas públicas que permitan transformar la educación.
Esta transformación de la educación, debe garantizar la inclusión educativa de todos los niños, niñas y adolescentes y la seguridad de la comunidad educativa ante las amenazas y riesgos, proveyendo una educación de calidad, con aprendizajes holísticos, y con el desarrollo de competencias y habilidades para la vida, y no dejando a ningún niño o niña atrás. 
La pandemia y el cierre de escuelas en América Latina y El Caribe (ALC), dejó alrededor de 170 millones de NNA fuera de la escuela en un promedio de 58 semanas , esto junto a otros factores como la baja efectividad y cobertura de la educación virtual (las barreras de conectividad, limitaciones pedagógicas, etc.) han provocado grandes pérdidas de aprendizajes , un estudio del Banco Mundial en ALC, revela que tras la pandemia, alrededor de 4 de cada 5 estudiantes de sexto grado no serían capaces de entender e interpretar adecuadamente, un texto de longitud moderada, proyectando que la “pobreza de aprendizaje”  por tanto en la región podría incrementarse en más de 26,7%, llegando al 79% en 2022, (Grupo Banco Mundial 2022; Dos Años Después, Salvando a una Generación) (World Bank Document)

La transformación de la educación, en un contexto de post-pandemia y bajo el enfoque de “todas las amenazas todos los riesgos”, requiere recuperar la enseñanza y el aprendizaje, impactados negativamente por el cierre de escuelas:
Por un lado, esto puede lograrse priorizando la recuperación de la educación en la agenda pública, reintegrando a los niños, niñas y adolescentes que abandonaron la escuela y asegurando la retención y su bienestar, y finalmente mejorando las capacidades de las y los docentes para responder a los desafíos siguiendo los estándares de la Educación en Emergencias (EiE), y el Marco Integral de Seguridad Escolar 2022-2030.
Por otra parte, desarrollar planes integrales de seguridad escolar, utilizando un enfoque participativo de riesgos para proteger a los estudiantes, educadores y personal de los daños en las escuelas y otros espacios de aprendizaje,  garantizar la continuidad de la educación y la protección de los niños y limitar las interrupciones del aprendizaje frente a los choques, tensiones, peligros y amenazas de todo tipo y, finalmente, promover el conocimiento y las habilidades de los estudiantes para contribuir a la reducción de riesgos, la creación de resiliencia y el desarrollo sostenible.

¿Qué podemos hacer para fomentar y facilitar los esfuerzos coordinados? 
El modelo socio ecológico reconoce que el bienestar de los niños depende de los sistemas más amplios e interdependientes de los que forman parte: el microsistema de los hogares y las familias; el mesosistema de las escuelas y las comunidades; el macrosistema de los sistemas sociales, la gobernanza y las políticas, y los cronosistemas que nos sitúan en contextos particulares de tiempo y cultura, y los vínculos entre ellos. Esto es coherente con un planteamiento de “toda la sociedad” para la reducción de riesgos, la resiliencia y la sostenibilidad medioambiental.

¿Cómo fomentar la participación de los distintos agentes educativos de la región? 
El enfoque de impacto colectivo resulta esencial a nivel de la “sociedad”. Reconoce que la resolución de problemas sociales complejos requiere la participación de múltiples partes interesadas y multisectoriales.
Los cinco componentes necesarios para el éxito son:
1.          Una agenda común.
2.         Datos y resultados medibles y SMART.
3.         Actividades que se refuercen mutuamente.
4.         Comunicación abierta y continua.
5.         Una organización vertebradora facilitadora.
El Marco Integral de Seguridad Escolar es la agenda común para el cambio positivo, los Objetivos e Indicadores del Marco de Seguridad Escolar proporcionan mediciones compartidas de datos y resultados. La orientación operativa que desarrollamos apoya actividades que se refuerzan mutuamente.

El CSSF señala que la reducción del riesgo y la creación de resiliencia requieren un enfoque integral que abarque de “toda la sociedad” y “todos los peligros”. La investigación y la experiencia nos recuerdan el enorme valor de la participación de los niños, niñas, adolescentes y jóvenes en todos los aspectos de la planificación para el futuro. Esta es la forma más adecuada de identificar y abordar de manera sostenible las barreras que pueden interferir con el acceso equitativo de los niños y las niñas a una educación segura, continua y de calidad. Los responsables del sector de la educación siguen enfrentándose a los efectos de amenazas múltiples, incluidas amenazas naturales y tecnológicas, cambio climático, epidemias y pandemias (como la COVID-19), violencia, conflictos y amenazas cotidianas. Esto causa impactos permanentes en el desarrollo de los niños, las niñas y las sociedades. Estos impactos se sienten de manera diferente debido al género, la discapacidad y las desigualdades sociales. Debemos actuar ahora.

Puede descargar aquí los manuales de la CSSF en inglés y español.

Compromiso de asociación de RET a nivel mundial y regional
Desde 2018, RET ha sido un miembro de la “Alianza Global para la Reducción del Riesgo de Desastres & Resiliencia en el Sector Educativo (GADRRRES)” una plataforma de múltiples partes interesadas compuesta por Agencias de la ONU, Agencias No Gubernamentales Internacionales, otras organizaciones humanitarias y de desarrollo, líderes, y alianzas regionales similares, abogando y apoyando los derechos de los niños, la resiliencia y la sostenibilidad en el sector educativo. RET está trabajando para fortalecer la coordinación, aumentar el conocimiento y abogar por la educación para la reducción de riesgos y la seguridad en el sector educativo, en línea con el Marco de Sendai para la RRD en apoyo de los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible y en los tres pilares del Marco Integral de Seguridad Escolar.
RET también es miembro del “Grupo Regional de Educación para América Latina y el Caribe”, establecido en 2011 en el marco de REDLAC[1] para apoyar a los Ministerios de Educación y los mecanismos de coordinación para las respuestas de emergencia en el sector educativo (incluyendo la gestión de riesgos, desastres y migración). También apoya las acciones basadas en el Marco de Sendai para la Reducción de Desastres (SFDRR), la Iniciativa Mundial para Escuelas Seguras (WISS), y el Grupo Mundial de Educación (GEC), para garantizar el derecho a la educación de todos los niños, niñas, adolescentes y jóvenes de la región.
Para asegurar la coherencia en términos de coordinación en la respuesta educativa y en el contexto de la creciente dimensión del desplazamiento interno y externo en toda América Latina y el Caribe, este grupo también participa en representación del Sector Educación en la Plataforma de Coordinación Regional Interinstitucional para Refugiados y Migrantes de Venezuela (R4V). El grupo está codirigido por UNICEF y Save the Children e integrado por ACNUR, AECID, CNR, ECHO, FICR, INEE, ISRAAID, OCHA, OIM, ONU MUJERES, ONUSIDA, PLAN Internacional, RET, UNDRR, UNESCO y WORLD VISION. 

[1] Grupo Regional sobre Riesgos, Emergencias y Desastres para América Latina y el Caribe (REDLAC) es una plataforma regional de coordinación para la preparación y para la respuesta a desastres, que surgió como una forma de dinamizar el entendimiento y análisis conjunto y el acercamiento desde el nivel regional al nivel global y al nivel nacional.

Transportation Leaders Empowered through Education, Awareness, and Effective Policy Change on Human Trafficking in Belize (TLEAP)- 2022-2024

Video by Love FM Belize

Video by Love FM Belize

Transportation Leaders Empowered through Education, Awareness, and Effective Policy Change on Human Trafficking in Belize (TLEAP)
Project 2022- 2024

On January 11th, National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, RET launched its new project, “Transportation Leaders Empowered through Education, Awareness, and Effective Policy Change on Human Trafficking (TLEAP), in Belize to introduce the project to the various stakeholders in the transportation industry at the national and local levels.

RET, in partnership with the Government of Belize and in collaboration with the ATIPS Council, will prioritize antitrafficking efforts within the transportation industry in Belize to build the capacity and knowledge of operators and local authority employees about human trafficking and apply formal procedures to identify victims of sex and labor trafficking among vulnerable groups. The project will strengthen the capacity of stakeholders within the Transportation Industry to identify and report suspected cases of human trafficking through a comprehensive training program and contributes to the Belizian governmental efforts in implementing the national antitrafficking information, education, and communication operational plan by raising awareness on Human Trafficking.

High-level attendees joined the kick-off meeting, including the Minister of Youth, Sports, and Transport – H.E Rodwell Ferguson; the Anti Trafficking in Persons Council Focal Point – Ms. Jaunna Murillo; the Political Officer from the U.S. Embassy – Ms. Sydney Skov, and Ms. Christine Valerio; multiple Mayors from the various municipalities across the country; Representatives from NGOs and CSOs involved in antitrafficking work; Representatives from the Belize Port Authority and Transportation Associations. During the kick-off meeting, RET presented the project activities, including the steps to gather baseline data about the knowledge, attitude, and practices of those in the transportation industry to determine the gaps and inform the content to be included in the Training Modules. 

The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Council Focal Point – Ms. Jaunna Murillo, within her remarks, shared, “…we want to empower the public and the private sector to be a part of this united effort against human trafficking in the country. I want to repeat the words of H.E. Minister Elvia Vega Samos earlier, the Government of Belize’s commitment to protecting our people from exploitation remains true, and we continue to see the value of strong partnership. This is because combatting a transnational crime such as human trafficking requires many’s expertise, resources, and effort. Just as we say it takes a village to raise a child, I believe it takes a country to address such a crime as human trafficking”. 

During his interview, the Minister of Youth, Sports, and Transport – H.E Rodwell Ferguson, shared, “Now, the target is the transportation industry regarding human trafficking. I fully support the idea, the initiative to complement the Ministry of Education’s endeavors to mitigate trafficking on the borders of this country. I am hopeful that today’s meeting is the beginning of a partnership with RET to make sure we try to mitigate human trafficking.”

RET’s Country Director, Mrs. Cherese Ferguson ended her welcome speech with, “Combatting Human Trafficking cannot be done by the ATIPS Council alone, cannot be done by RET alone, nor any individual or entity alone. Such an initiative requires collaborative and partnership efforts from everyone involved. 

About the project :” Transportation Leaders Empowered through Education, Awareness, and Effective Policy Change on Human Trafficking in Belize (TLEAP)”

Human traffickers exploit legitimate systems within multiple sectors to conduct their trafficking activities, including hotels, banks, and transportation systems. In Belize, taxi operators, amongst other transportation systems, have been suspected of facilitating the transport of trafficking victims, which amplifies the industry’s vulnerability to being used by traffickers. Many industries must make fundamental changes to their systems to prevent, detect and disrupt human trafficking.

The project “Transportation Leaders Empowered through Education, Awareness and Effective Policy Change on Human Trafficking in Belize (TLEAP)” strengthens the capacity of stakeholders within the Transportation Industry to identify and report suspected cases of human trafficking through a comprehensive training program and contributes to the Belizian governmental efforts in implementing the national antitrafficking information, education, and communication operational plan by raising awareness on Human Trafficking.

The project has two objectives:
First, to strengthen the capacity of 540 public and private stakeholders from the transportation sector at the national level. The project proposes a comprehensive training program to combat human trafficking, including identifying the vulnerabilities in the transportation industry that can be exploited by traffickers and setting the procedures to identify victims, and, more importantly, reporting the cases to the relevant authorities. The project proposes a Training of Trainers (ToT) model to build a pool of competent instructors who can teach the material to other stakeholders in their respective departments/ministries beyond the project life cycle. 

Second, RET, in partnership with the ATIPS Council, the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Transport, and the Departments of Transport in Belize will expand the ongoing public antitrafficking awareness campaign by disseminating prevention-based materials in all public transportation, including bus terminals, bus sheds, water taxi terminals, taxi stands, at the international airport, and in municipal airstrips countrywide. 

This project, implemented between September 2022 and March 2024, is funded by the U.S. Embassy’s Central American Regional Security Initiative – Economic Support Fund (CARSI-ESF) and implemented by RET in Belize. 

Video by NEWS 5 Live

Video by NEWS 5 Live

Women, Gender, and Climate Actions

The International Women’s Day – March 8, 2022

The International Women’s Day, March 8, is an opportunity to reflect on the advances and gaps in gender equity and commemorate how women and girls are leading the solutions to address global problems, including climate change within RET’s programs. The UN 2022 theme focuses on “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.”  According to the UN, “the year 2022 is pivotal for achieving gender equality in the context of climate change and environmental and disaster risk reduction, which are some of the greatest global challenges of the twenty-first century. Without gender equality today, a sustainable future and an equal future remains beyond our reach.”

Gender Equality 
Equality and non-discrimination are fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter, adopted by world leaders in 1945. Yet, “millions of women, young women, minority groups, and people of diverse gender identities worldwide continue to experience discrimination in the enjoyment of civil, cultural, economic, political, and social rights. Moreover, many women face compounded forms of discrimination—due to factors such as their age, race, ethnicity, disability, or socioeconomic status, in addition to gender-based discrimination.”

Though girls and boys face similar challenges in early childhood, gender disparities become more pronounced in adolescence (10-19 years of age), a crucial period when boys’ and girls’ attitudes about gender develop and gender norms consolidate. Due to expected gender roles, adolescent girls may also face a disproportionate burden of domestic work, risks of early marriage and early pregnancy, and sexual and gender-based violence. Women today face social, economic, and political barriers coupled with unequal access to resources and decision-making processes.

According to RET, gender equality means women and men of all ages and regardless of sexual orientation have equal conditions for realizing their full human rights and contributing to and benefiting from economic, social, cultural, and political development and decision-making.  RET considers the impact of gender and social norms throughout all its projects. RET’s interventions work across the triple nexus, supporting equality and inclusion of women and young girls (focusing on refugees, migrants, and returnees) in society and the economy to help them lead their self-reliance journey and build their resilience. RET is also fully committed to supporting the Sustainable Development Goal SDG5: “To Achieve Gender Equality and Empower All Women and Girls,” to ensure women and girls have equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes, particularly during times of crisis and fragile contexts.

Gender and Climate Actions
Climate change is felt through primarily natural hazards and affects many sectors, including agriculture, food security, health, and even migration patterns. Both women and men relying on natural resources for their livelihoods, such as agriculture, are likely affected by climate change. However, the impact is not the same on both, and women’s vulnerability stems from several factors – social, economic, and cultural. Advancing gender equality in the context of climate crises and disaster risk reduction (Preparedness and Mitigation) is one of the most significant global challenges of the 21st century that RET is currently undertaking. 

RET has actively worked to address women and young people’s specific and immediate needs while addressing the broader issues preventing gender equality within each given context. Given that RET works primarily in emergency and fragile contexts, it has gathered first-hand evidence that conflict and climate change affect males and females differently, and those gender disparities are often exacerbated. Both protection and livelihoods risk for girls and young women increase in such contexts; climate change affects the livelihoods of specifical women dependent on natural resources in rural areas. In response, RET actualizes equality through gender-sensitive strategies to respond to the environmental and humanitarian crises caused by climate change and conflicts. 

Within its current projects in Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas, here are some facts about our interventions and commitment to climate adaptation in 2022:

  • RET is promoting short and medium-term agriculture measures to revive rural areas that directly target the needs of the poorest refugees/local farmers, especially female-headed households.
  • RET is increasing adaptive capacity and resilience to reduce people’s vulnerability, especially women, to the impacts of climate change and climate-related risks.
  • RET is building farmers’ adaptive capacity, especially women (refugees and host), to boost the local economy and create employment and income-generating opportunities. 
  • RET is reducing the impact of climate change on agriculture production, affecting the livelihoods of populations depending on agriculture, especially women.
  • RET is reducing Inadequate water and plant pest/disease management representing a significant constraint to stabilize and increase agricultural production linked to intensified seasonal and inter-annual climate variability and change.
  • RET is strengthening the adaptation-related research, including meteorological and hydrological monitoring and forecasting, including early warning systems, etc.
  • RET is taking part in promoting water-saving irrigation methods to withstand climate change;
  • RET is advancing the promotion of modified fishing practices to adapt to stock changes and fished species and introducing more flexibility in the equipment and techniques used, including enabling and training vulnerable women on fish preparation …

Disaster Risk Reduction – The Americas
RET is mainstreaming resilience approaches that address disaster and climate risks within the context of multiple projects, aiming to integrate climate and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) as integral elements in all RET projects as we move forward. 

Through a range of approaches, RET reduces the number of lives and livelihoods lost or adversely affected during a disaster and helps capacitate and empower young people, especially women, to become more resilient to future crises. RET’s programs aim to help vulnerable populations anticipate and prepare for disasters in the education system and at the community and national levels through participatory and community-based approaches. RET intervenes in disaster and emergency-affected environments to mitigate the impact of disasters and ensure the most vulnerable, especially young women and People with Disabilities (PwD), have access to protection services and adapt to educational opportunities and learning environments. Moreover, RET has DRR programs to reinforce the preparedness and mitigation capacities of national and local stakeholders, families, and communities in the event of a disaster, with a strong focus on the active participation of vulnerable groups, especially women, throughout the whole process.

Recently, RET has been integrating an intersectional approach to address the needs of the most vulnerable populations to understand how the different layers of vulnerability interact between at-risk populations, including gender vulnerabilities. RET has been incorporating Nature-based Solutions (NbS) in its Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) strategy to build climate resilience and self-sufficiency; strengthen community food production; promote plant-based diets and Eco-efficiency initiatives; to help reduce risks while simultaneously support livelihoods.  Nature-based Solutions (NbS) focus on managing or restoring an ecosystem that addresses societal challenges, such as disaster risk, climate change, food security, water security, and human health. It addresses all three components of the risk equation – preventing or mitigating hazards, limiting people’s exposure to hazards, and limiting their vulnerability.

RET’s response is strengthened through active partnership in many inter-sectoral networks and clusters promoting inclusive disaster and climate resilience, including the UN Educational Cluster, the LAC Network for Disability Inclusion in DRR (GIRDD LACRed de Gestion Inclusiva del Riesgo de Desastres y Discapacidad), GNDR (Global Network of Civil Society Organizations for Disaster Reduction), GADRRRES (Global Alliance for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience in the Education Sector) and the regional PEDRR platform for Latin America and the Caribbean (Partnership for Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction.)

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The Comprehensive School Safety Framework 2022-2030 for Child Rights and Resilience in the Education Sector – Launch in LAC

RET participated in the “Comprehensive School Safety Framework (CSSF) 2022- 2030” for Child Rights and Resilience in the Education Sector –Webinar- Launch in LAC by answering multiple questions, providing recommendations, and reflecting on the implementation of the new CSSF 2022-2030. The “Comprehensive School Safety Framework (CSSF) 2022- 2030” supports the education sector policy-makers, planners, school administrators, and their partners to promote…

El Marco Integral de Seguridad Escolar 2022-2030 para los Derechos del Niño y la Resiliencia en el Sector Educativo – Lanzamiento en ALC

RET participó en la webinar de lanzamiento para LAC del  “Marco Integral de Seguridad Escolar (CSSF) 2022- 2030” para los Derechos del Niño y la Resiliencia en el Sector Educativo, respondiendo a múltiples preguntas, proporcionando recomendaciones y reflexionando sobre la implementación del nuevo CSSF 2022-2030.  El Marco, apoya a los responsables de la formulación de políticas del…

Transportation Leaders Empowered through Education, Awareness, and Effective Policy Change on Human Trafficking in Belize (TLEAP)- 2022-2024

Video by Love FM Belize Transportation Leaders Empowered through Education, Awareness, and Effective Policy Change on Human Trafficking in Belize (TLEAP)- Project 2022- 2024 On January 11th, National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, RET launched its new project, “Transportation Leaders Empowered through Education, Awareness, and Effective Policy Change on Human Trafficking (TLEAP), in Belize to introduce the…

The International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction

The International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction is an opportunity to acknowledge the progress being made toward reducing disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health. The 2021 edition focuses on “International cooperation for developing countries to reduce their disaster risk and disaster losses.” This is the sixth of the Sendai Seven targets. RET has been designing…

The International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction

The International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction is an opportunity to acknowledge the progress being made toward reducing disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health. The 2021 edition focuses on “International cooperation for developing countries to reduce their disaster risk and disaster losses.” This is the sixth of the Sendai Seven targets.

RET has been designing and implementing Disaster Risk Reduction DRR projects since 2009. RET started in Colombia during the winter wave; since 2012, and to date, RET has been working in multiple countries in the Americas region, including Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Panamá at the national and regional levels, using innovative approaches and ground-breaking interventions. During the last 10 years, RET has implemented more than 20 DRR-focused regional and national projects, including integral actions in other sectors such as education, protection, health and/or WASH, benefiting more than 30,000 direct participants, and 90,000 indirectly.

Three main strategic directions drive RET’s DRR approach:
(1) Participation of children, adolescents and young people in DRR (including children with disabilities);
(2) Advocacy and institutional strengthening in DRR focused on children and youth;
(3) Development of tools and frameworks for DRR focusing on children and young people.

The DRR projects focus specifically on the needs of children, adolescents, and young people, building their resilience through capacity strengthening under a rights-based approach, with particular attention to people with disabilities or indigenous groups. 

Some of RET’s DRR projects include institutional capacity building and strengthening processes, such as with the Ministries of Education or Social Development) contributing to the design and/or implementation of their DRR public policies. Moreover, other projects have focused on a community level through the implementation of risk management models.

Through these proposals, more than 25 tools have been developed for advocacy and guidance, needs assessment, implementation, and capacity building at the regional, national, and community levels, allowing users to identify vulnerabilities, reflect on their capacities, and strengthen them.

Finaly, RET is actively engaged at the global level in the “Global Alliance for Risks Reduction and Resilience of the Education Sector” (GADRRRES). In the LAC, RET is a member of the “Regional Education Sector Group for DRR and Education in Emergencies” and has been the coordinator of the “Coalition for Children and Youth Resilience in Latin America and the Caribbean – CORELAC.” As a leader of CORELAC, the movement “Voices of Children and Youth for Resilience” has been promoted, reaching more than 6,000 young people in collaboration with UNICEF and UNDRR, Save the Children, Plan, and World Vision. This initiative succeeded in incorporating the participation of young people from LAC in different regional platforms for DRR (Chile, Ecuador, and Canada). The initiative led to the recognition of children’ and youth’ participation at the “World Conference on DRR” held in SENDAI in 2015; fundamentally influenced the inclusion of children and young people as “relevant actors” in the document of the SENDAI Framework for Disaster Risks Reduction 2015-2030.

 Read more about the Zero Project Award 2020 for Innovative Practice that RET won in 2020. 

Putting Peace in Practice

In 2016, RET’s interventions in the Republic of Chad have been integrated new horizons and methods…

Beyciveck’s Story: bridges to heal, learn and shine for children and young Venezuelan refugees

20th June is the commemoration of World Refugee Day. This year, the theme focused on the power of inclusion and the importance of working together to recover from the pandemic: “Together We Heal, Learn and Shine.” In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, children and young refugees are facing recurrent adversities. Education is a key tool to provide them with a sense of normalcy, a safe space, and an opportunity to thrive. 

Today we share the story of Beyciveck, a Venezuelan adolescent who participated in a distance learning program called “Learning Together,” implemented by RET in 2020, with the generous support of Education Cannot Wait. Beyciveck, 15 years old, arrived in Peru in 2019. She couldn’t resume her education and enroll in school during that year as her family was facing economic hardships. Beginning of 2020, she was eagerly waiting for the new school year to start and even began playing rugby with a group of refugees and host community adolescents. “I like all kinds of sports… I like to play and have fun”, she says.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The government of Peru declared a state of national emergency and restricted the mobility of the population, postponing the academic year to 2021. The Ministry of Education implemented a national alternative strategy to facilitate access to education during COVID-19 through a complementary distance learning program, “I Learn at Home.” The program included e-learning materials and educational sessions on TV and radio, with consultation sessions through chat groups to guide and mentor the students. 
Still, many migrants and refugee families experienced difficulties accessing the proposed platforms online due to economic difficulties, lack of internet and equipment. Many of the families had only one mobile phone and or TV for the entire family to use

The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with multiple adversities, increased the risk of students drop-out. Therefore, RET responded by adapting its project strategy and activities to fill the needs gaps of students and their families during the pandemic and facilitated their access to virtual education opportunities.
Beyciveck was one of the students who enrolled in the  “Learning together” virtual program implemented by RET in partnership with UNICEF, UNESCO, and Plan International. She received fourteen (14) e-learning sessions in mathematics while strengthening her socio-emotional skills with the support and orientation of a specialized tutor. Beyciveck actively and efficiently used the virtual platform and accessed all the resources through her mother’s smartphone and/or her cousin’s computer. 
“The virtual program “Learning Together” has been a great tool for me. I learned new things in Peru that I did not know. It is crucial for any child, adolescent, and even any adult to learn to achieve their goals in life. I want to be an industrial engineer in the future, like my brother”, commented Beyciveck. 

The Story of Beyciveck is one of 1,300 children and adolescents who participated in the “Keeping education accessible to Venezuelan migrants, refugees and host communities during the COVID-19 times in Peru” project, implemented by RET in partnership with the global fund Education Cannot Wait.  Since 2000, RET has been standing with refugees and vulnerable communities in more than 30 countries worldwide. Beyciveck’s testimony stands witness to young refugees’ resilience and the positive role RET plays in their lives. 
RET would like to thank Education Cannot Wait for its continuous support and response to the needs of Venezuelan refugees and asylum seekers in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Jonathan’s Story: Pride and healing paths for LGTBIQ+ Venezuelan migrants and refugees

June is Pride month, an opportunity to celebrate all forms of love and diversity. It is also a reminder of all the challenges the LGTBIQ+ community faces worldwide, especially for those individuals in the context of human mobility. June has also been the month where two main events around the Venezuelan migration in Latin America and the Caribbean occurred: The High-level Meeting with Civil Society in Solidarity with Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants, co-hosted on 14 June by the Coalition for the Defense of the Rights of Refugees, Migrants, and Displaced People in LAC (Coalition LAC RMD),  the Government of Canada, and the European Commission for Crisis Management; side-event of the International Donors’ Conference in Solidarity with Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants, on 17 June, hosted by the Government of Canada.

Jonathan, a Venezuelan participant from RET’s Psychosocial Support Program in Costa Rica, gave his testimony as a speaker in the High-Level Meeting with Civil Society, as a member of the LGTBIQ+ community and Venezuelan Migrant to share the challenges and development needs his community is facing. 

During his speech, Jonathan talked about his experience and how the stigmatization and discrimination make access to services more difficult or reduces the opportunities to find a job.

It is like coming out of the closet again… you not only present yourself as a foreigner, but you also have to present yourself as gay because people are going to ask… do you have a wife? And then you explain again, perhaps with shame, with insecurities,” Jonathan said.

There is still a lot of discrimination, for being trans, for being a lesbian, for being bisexual … there is also a sensitive issue, and is having HIV.” He explained migrants and refugees with HIV are the most vulnerable; they travel for opportunities to access treatment and arrive at the host countries with the hope of starting a new life. By the testimony of a friend, he said this kind of journey is not easy; there are barriers to access to health services, and being without the support of their families makes it more challenging. There is also the fear of not finding a job or losing it because of the stigma.

Jonathan would like to become a psychologist to help other members of the LGBTQI+ community in their process of integration. He has received psychosocial support through the UNCHR program “Responding to the specific needs of refugees and asylum seekers in Costa Rica,” in which RET, as implementing partner, works to empower individuals to access their rights in society; enabling a participatory platform for social integration and strengthening their emotional and mental health through psychosocial support and attention.

In his words, this experience helps him understand his situation from another perspective, “Fortunately, here in Costa Rica I have met wonderful people and incredible organizations such as RET, who help me obtain and understand all these tools and all these complex thoughts and situations… that makes us understand that we are human beings and we all are different, and we must accept ourselves and others.”

At least, I dream of studying psychology and helping each of the members of the LGBT community who have gone through all these situations because it is a career that I feel enables you to connect with people and with feelings.

At the end of his speech, he made a call to International Cooperation and INGOs to support the education of young Venezuelan Migrants and Refugees from the LGTBIQ+ community, and to make more efforts to reduce barriers to access treatments and health services for migrants and refugees with HIV in the host countries in Latin America.

The stories of participants like Jonathan stand witness to their achievements and RET’s key role in their lives. RET would like to thank UNCHR for its support and response to the needs of refugees and asylum seekers in Costa Rica.

The LAC RMD Coalition issues a call to action in the framework of the International Donors’ Conference in Solidarity with Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants

The LAC RDM Coalition[1] salutes and thanks the Government of Canada and the R4V Platform for convening the International Donors’ Conference, as well as the European Union and the international donor community for their commitment to the more than 5.6[2] million refugees and migrants from Venezuela, 4.6 million of whom are in Latin America and the Caribbean.

According to the 2021 Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan for Venezuela (RMRP)[3] there are 7.2 million people with humanitarian need: 3.4 million Venezuelans settled in host countries, and the rest returnees, in transit and/or in pendular movement, a population that in 2020 particularly suffered the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The challenges for Venezuelan migrants and refugees are manifold: evictions, lack of safe shelter, gender-based violence, inability for children and adolescents to access or remain in education[4], violation of health and reproductive rights, the resurgence of sexual exploitation and trafficking of women and girls[5], the lack of access to regular and adequate food and nutrients, loss of sources of income, including people with disabilities often engaged in informal work, difficulties in accessing treatment for people with chronic illnesses, discrimination and violence, particularly towards the LGBTQI+ population,  the lack of opportunities for young people and lack of responses for people with disabilities. These factors, among other affectations, have had a serious impact on the physical and psychological integrity of the population.

Collaboration to Meet SDG4 and Support the 2030 Decade of Action – UNGA ”75” 2020

RET, represented by its President & CEO Ms. Zeynep Gülgün Gündüz was part of the High-level Virtual Side Event, UNGA” 75″ 2020 “Government and Foundation Partners Demonstrate Effective Cross-sectoral Collaboration to Meet SDG4 and Support the 2030 Decade of Action.”
This event was co-hosted by Education Above All Foundation, the Permanent Mission of The State of Qatar to the United Nations, Qatar Fund For Development, the UN Office for Partnerships, and UNESCO. 

The event discussed ways to enhance collaboration among vital actors, specifically countries, civil society and foundations, policymakers, and institutions engaged in education, humanitarian, and development responses to accelerate country progress on the SDG4 and the related SDG targets. 

The SDG4 Education 2030 Framework for Action seeks to promote international collaborative efforts to achieve SDGs through different methods and institutional arrangements, including cross-sectoral coordination and multi-stakeholder partnerships. The overall 2030 Agenda recognizes that the global goals and targets will not be achieved through single sectoral approaches alone. The SDG4-Education 2030 Framework for Action’s key message is that different domains (e.g., data, sport, water, energy, and food) are interconnected. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of collaboration between sectors to ensure students’ well-being and learning continuity. 

RET addressed its multi-sectoral response in more than 32 countries worldwide and emphasized its achievements in the Americas related to (SDG 13) strengthening resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters by mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction & Management within education-focused interventions to improve all learners’ education on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction, and early warning; (SDG’s 5 & 9) using an innovative, inclusive approach, paying particular attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations to leave no one behind; and (SDG 6) providing equitable access to safe drinking water and restore water-related systems in school settings, among other interventions. 

Ms. Gunduz highlighted the Zero Project Award 2020 for innovative practice, won by RET for “Including Children, Adolescents and Youth with Disabilities in Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Practices.”

Ms. Gündüz Part at 1:03:40

Ms. Zeynep Gülgün Gündüz Remarks:

“Thank you very much for the introduction and thank you to “Education Above All Foundation” and the Government of Qatar for inviting us to participate in this important event. 

Let me first start with who we are!
At the heart of RET’s mission is to PROTECT and BUILD the SELF-RELIANCE of young people and women. RET works in areas of conflict, crisis, instability, and fragility around the world. We were created 20 years ago by then High Commissioner of UNHCR, Sadako Ogata, to provide education for vulnerable youth, namely refugees in refugee camps. Today, while we still work in camps, most of our work is with urban, peri-urban, and rural populations of concern, including refugees, host communities, and the internally displaced.   

RET has more than 20 years of experience in Education in Emergencies. We have worked in 32 countries, including ten of those in Latin America Caribbean region, throughout Central and East Africa, West Africa in the Sahel, in the Middle East with the Syrian crisis in Lebanon and Turkey, and in Afghanistan and Pakistan, with over 2 million program participants, in over 1,600 schools and centers, in nearly 400 projects.

RET’s core competencies in the spectrum of education are built on interventions ranging from the strengthening of FORMAL and NON-FORMAL education, basic literacy and numeracy, tertiary education, human rights, refugee rights, children’s rights, women’s rights, responsible citizenship, and peacebuilding, addressing and designing inclusive programs with youth with disabilities and special needs, mainstreaming gender equality and disaster risk reduction and management (DRR&M). 

In the framework of SDG4- INCLUSIVE and EQUITABLE EDUCATION FOR ALL – RET is committed to safeguarding refugees’ right to education and other populations of concern. Typically, our education programs are accredited and in line with the Ministry of Education of the host country or the home country. 

RET advocates for enhancing the national education systems’ capacity to include refugees and other displaced adolescents and youth, including those with disabilities, to prevent acts of discrimination and harassment against them and mitigate xenophobic culture.

While RET works in the education sector (SDG4), RET’s interventions are multi-sectoral, and RET is committed to include livelihoods, socio-economic empowerment, food security and nutrition, health and specifically mental health and psychosocial skill support (MHPSS), water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), addressing: 

SDGs 2 (zero hunger), 3 (good health and well-being), 5 (gender equality), 6 (clean water and sanitation), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 9 (innovative and inclusive solutions), 13 (climate change and reduction of its impact) and 17 (partnerships for the goals)

RET is committed to mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction & Management (DDR&M) within its education interventions to improve all learners’ education on climate change, mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction, and early warning.

I want to give an example of a highly innovative project we designed in 2015, together with youth in Panama and the various Panamanian ministerial authorities as a first-ever pilot project.

In terms of natural disasters, Panama is faced with the threat of flooding each year and is vulnerable to climate variability due to the El Nino phenomenon, and earthquakes and volcanoes.

The RET project was the first in Panama ever to integrate DRR&M practices into public schools to increase education sector RESILIENCE and to empower young people with disabilities to be agents of positive change in both DRR and first response.

Our RET approach was threefold: 1) awareness-raising and mobilization, 2) capacity-building, 3) institutional strengthening.

Since 2015, we have continued and expanded this project with nearly 8000 young people with disabilities participating in our program, in tandem with first aid and emergency exercises, and the designation of evacuation plans and paths.

RET also built the capacity of education partners, teachers, parents/caregivers, education center management, and staff on DRR&M through training, development of curricula, development of guidebooks and manuals, and even for the first time, the development of sign language on risk management and first response!

I want to add here that in 2020, RET has won the Zero Project Innovation Award for this project. 

RET has had 17 projects in the field of Disaster Risk Reduction & Management (DRR&M) in multiple countries in LAC region, with 70,000 participants in programs in Costa Rica, Panama and Ecuador, starting in Colombia, working with the Ministry of Education in the 94 departments throughout the country, where RET trained to build capacity and work together with the departmental representatives in designing DRR preparedness for all the schools, in the development of tools and frameworks, benefitting 41,000 in 1,200 schools.

During the last few years, RET has been engaged globally with the Global Alliance for Risk Reduction and Resilience (GADRRRES) and at the regional level with the Regional Education Sector Group for DRR and Education in Emergencies. RET was also previously engaged in CORELAC, the Coalition for Children and Youth Resilience in Latin America and the Caribbean. As Coordinator of CORELAC, RET participated in the UN World Conference on DRR held in Sendai, Japan, in 2015, sharing the voices of Children and Youth for Resilience to DRR and advocating for their inclusion as relevant actors in the Sendai Framework for DRR through 2030.  

Once again, thank you, all, for having RET here today.”
Ms. Zeynep Gülgün Gündüz

Program and Panelists

Welcome Remarks

  • Ambassador Sheikha Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani, Permanent Representative of The State of Qatar to the United Nations


  • Mr Jordan Naidoo, Director of the UNESCO Kabul Office and Country

Representative to Afghanistan

Keynote Speakers

  • Ms Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group
  • H.E. Khalifa Jassim Al-Kuwari, Director General, Qatar Fund for


  • Ms Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO

Panel Members

  • The Honorable Janet Kataaha Museveni, Minister of Education & Sports, Uganda
  • HE Dr Hang Chuon Naron, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport,


  • HE Professor George A. O. Magoha, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of

Education, Kenya

  • Ms Annemarie Hou, Executive Director, a.i. UN Office for Partnerships & Senior Communications Advisor, Office of the Secretary-General, UN
  • Ms Zeynep Gündüz, President, CEO & Board Member, RET International
  • Ms Mamta Saikia, CEO, Bharti Foundation
  • Ms Nezha Alaoui, President, Mayshad Foundation
  • Ms Magdalena Brier, Managing Director, ProFuturo Foundation
  • Ms Carola Tembe, Program Manager, H&M Foundation

Closing Remarks

  • Mr Fahad Al-Sulaiti, CEO, Education Above All Foundation

Call for Support to Lebanon

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Dear Friends,

As all of you know, the massive explosion on Tuesday in Beirut, was the third largest in the world after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with more than 5000 people injured, thousands more missing, and 137casualties. More than 300,000 people have been internally displaced (IDP’s) due to the loss of their homes.

Lebanon, an already fragile state, had been suffering since its civil war from 1975-1990, from 5 decades of insecurities, social instability, and most recently from economic and financial collapse.

Think about this – Lebanon has a population of 6.8 million plus an additional 1 million Syrian and Iraqi refugees.  Approximately half the population are in dire need of food assistance, as unemployment was already approaching 40% before Tuesday’s blast.

Today, I urgently ask for your donation to RET, ourindependent, neutral, non-profit, based in Switzerland, Washington DC, Berlin, which I have been heading for the last 17 years.  

Our team is already on the ground working in Lebanon providing and ready to provide urgent assistance and lifesaving basic needs such as psychological first aid, food, water, shelter to those in need.

So many of you have already written to me.  I cannot thank you enough for your generous support during these tragic times. Your donations are much needed NOW to help feed and keep alive hundreds of thousands of people.  Thank you, again, and again!!!

Please follow the below link to GoGetFunding & Donate Urgently!

Zeynep Gülgün Gündüz
President & CEO of RET

Visit GoGetFunding & Crowdfunding Page

Refugees and migrants from Venezuela during COVID-19 crisis

RET’s COVID-19 Regional Response in Latin America and the Caribbean

RET has been present in the Latin America and the Caribbean region, since 2004, and has directly supported more than 717,000 direct project participants, and indirectly benefitted 3.6 Mio beneficiaries throughout 179 projects implemented predominantly in Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Venezuela, and Peru. Since 2016, RET’s responses were centered on one of the most severe humanitarian crises in LAC, the Venezuelan crisis. It is estimated that approximately 4.3 million refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers fled the violence, poverty, and food and medicine shortages in Venezuela. The instability in the country generated a significant migratory flow. The vast majority of Venezuelan refugees have found asylum predominantly in neighboring countries within the region. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is overstretching healthcare systems and restricting access to basic needs, education, and livelihoods. Countries with pre-existing humanitarian needs, in fragile contexts, and protracted crises are the most affected, including the vulnerable Venezuelan communities scattered around the region. Due to restricted mobility, the poor living & working conditions where many vulnerable Venezuelans depend on insufficient daily wages to cover basic needs such as shelter, food, and health care, Venezuelans are becoming more susceptible to the deteriorating impact of COVID-19. Venezuelan refugees and migrants are also at risk of being stigmatized. This pandemic is aggravating the socio-economic unrest, leading to additional violence, conflicts, and the weakening of already fragile environments.

How is RET Staying & Delivering 
RET has been conducting multiple needs assessment to understand the impact of this crisis on the most vulnerable in every country of operation, including the deteriorating effects on Venezuelan refugees and migrants. RET has been gathering information and timely data to adapt and respond through innovative urgent actions to mitigate the existing and additional protection risks of vulnerable people assisted through ongoing operations. RET’s response in LAC prioritized refugees’ and migrants’ particular needs in the areas of Protection, Shelter, WASH, Food Security, Livelihoods and, Social Integration through targeted and tailor-made interventions to complement the national authorities’ response. 

RET has been coordinating its responses with grassroots organizations, Civil Society Organizations (CSO’s), and with the Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Platform (Response for Venezuelans-R4V) to prioritize essential protection and pre-existing life-saving needs to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable Venezuelans and the host communities, and has been taking part in promoting the inclusion of refugees and migrants in national programs. 

Awareness & Prevention 
While maintaining physical distancing measures, RET is implementing many prevention and response activities in countries of operation where refugees and migrants from Venezuela are hosted. These activities include providing access to reliable information on preventive measures, combatting misinformation and stigmatization, provision of hygiene kits, and soap, strengthening of community preventive health mechanisms through virtual workshops for key people at the community levels on preventive measures, response, and isolation mechanisms; access to safety equipment for health personnel; strengthening referral and follow-up mechanisms for COVID-19 cases in health centers at the local level and the delivery of sexual and reproductive health kits (condoms, flashlight, prevention information) and of PEP kits to health centers.

Protection (Women and Child)
RET is ensuring the protection services provided to the affected people are not interrupted, and assuming its current role in providing access to social safety nets and basic assistance to women and children through the use of technology to protect and assist refugees, internally displaced people, migrants and host communities particularly vulnerable to the pandemic. Key protection activities, such as individual protection assistance, case management, legal counseling, and individual psychosocial support, continue to be delivered via phone and WhatsApp chats, ensuring the well-being and mental health of the most vulnerable. 

RET is actively taking part in the protection of women and girls and in promoting their rights and safety through awareness campaigns and protective networks to provide sexual and reproductive health care and gender-based violence assistance. RET has established virtual support groups and a follow-up mechanism to assist vulnerable women at risk of Gender-based violence and survivors of #GBV. 

Food Security -Shelter – Cash Assistance 
RET has reviewed all evaluation tools to characterize new families affected by COVID 19 and applied means of verification to assist the most vulnerable. To bridge the food security gap, RET has been providing “Food Baskets” and “multi-purpose vouchers” to the most vulnerable people registered within our programs in coordination with local supermarkets. Also, RET has been providing multi-purpose cash transfers for the most vulnerable families whose livelihoods have been affected by COVID-19 and enabling all-cash voucher programs available in each country (conditional and multi-purpose cash) for the purchase of food, shelter and hygiene products (including gloves and soap). RET has been supporting food entrepreneurs and small marked oriented businesses with the purchase of food and its distribution in line with the regulations per country in coordination with relief entities and volunteers. RET has also been identifying shelters and coordinating with international and local partners to support people in shelters. 

RET has been providing the most vulnerable refugees and migrants with hygiene kits (soap, anti-bacterial gel, gloves, mask, alcohol) as well as providing cleaning kits and safety equipment for workers at health centers and hospitals. In addition to providing traditional water filters in communities with weak infrastructure, and conducting virtual training on handwashing, use of security equipment and on hygiene recommendations in work, home, and school environments. RET has been conducting assessments of water systems, and subsequent definition of a plan of action for the corrective maintenance of hygiene facilities (in communities and schools).

RET has been redesigning ad re-orienting its efforts in line with local needs and in coordination with host government’s policies at the local level to provide innovative solutions to remote learning through redesigning all its formal and informal education programs to provide access to alternative distance learning programs. With 20 years of experience in education, particularly in “Education in Emergencies (EiE),” RET is providing tailor-made solutions at the local level to bridge the educational gaps, in the broadest sense of vulnerable people.

RET has been revising its entire education toolbox and is currently implementing actions to allow the continuity of the teaching-learning processes, also, strengthening of capacities on distance education models to facilitate the return to classes and maintain quality education.

RET’s latest actions in education focused on supporting the host governments with their COVID19 prevention campaigns, addressing children, parents, and caregivers and promoting non-formal digital education programs and virtual educational platforms established by the host governments; strengthening of alternative virtual education spaces; developing guides for caregivers with activities and educational processes; launching plans for the inclusion of migrant and refugee children in the educational system; supporting the access of students to connectivity, computers, laptops, tablets or smart-phones; in addition to supporting vulnerable students with internet data fees and or access. 

Social integration and Livelihoods. 
The social impact of the COVID 19 outbreak can already be visible in many countries in LAC with a high number of refugees, migrants, and displaced people through the decrease of cohesion, a greater potential for conflict, and deepening inequalities. 

RET’s responses are being oriented to address the indirect effect of COVID-19 on social cohesion and integration in Latin America and the Caribbean; including addressing the risks of violence, discrimination, marginalization, and xenophobia towards the most vulnerable, especially the Venezuelan refugees through virtual tools such as webinars, Social networks, virtual social cohesion activities and interactive sessions at the community level. As part of its livelihood programs, RET is providing online support to increase the employability profiles of vulnerable people. (CV & job applications), along with tackling youth protection and mental health through social media awareness campaigns about health, education, housing, and work, in times of COVID-19.

During these challenging COVID19 times and in only three months, RET provided assistance and support to almost 18,000 refugees, migrants, and vulnerable people from the host community in Latin America and the Caribbean region alone. This is how the RET team is #Staying&Delivering.

RET is adopting an inclusive, multi-sectoral approach to alleviate the suffering and develop the resilience of the most affected, with particular attention to children, youth, and young women. RET will continue to provide its existing humanitarian, peace, development assistance while expanding its existent multi-sectoral response to address the new vulnerabilities in terms of COVID-19. 

While RET hires 100% local staff, in most countries, and can, therefore, stay on the ground, and continue its programs uninterrupted during any crises. RET’s international management team are usually based in regional and headquarters office, and travel for technical capacity-building purposes, which during COVID-19, is happening online and through videoconferencing.

The battle is not yet over; we appeal to all governments, donors, and partners to maintain their support to RET programs around the world and to foster our multi-sectoral response to assist the most vulnerable. With international solidarity, we will mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the most affected, during, and following this emergency.

From the camp to the world Christian’s Success Story

Christian is a young Congolese who grew up in the Bwagiriza #refugee #camp in Ruyigi, #Burundi. From a young age, Christian was drawn to entertainment, he dreamt of becoming a famous actor and performing in huge decorated theatres; he also imagined himself sitting on a director’s chair and behind a camera directing #Hollywood movies.

As a refugee living in a camp, I had very limited options, I believed I cannot dream big, but it turned out I can, I definitely can.” Christian

One step closer to is dream, Christian was selected by RET amongst many refugees in 2017 to obtain a #DAFI scholarship and pursue his tertiary education. Christian joined the “Université Lumière de Bujumbura” where he enrolled in its audiovisual department and began his studies. In addition to his formal training, Christian participated in different acting training modules; and eventually got a role in the famous event “Buja sans Tabou 2020 edition”.

Christian has already set up his YouTube channel “Les fous de Buja”, “The crazy people of Buja” and have been producing short movies with his colleagues, focusing on the #social challenges young people are facing in their communities in a humorist/dark comedy style.

“If it wasn’t for the #RET and the DAFI program, my dream would have still been in the camp, in the closet, in a dark place and would have never seen the light. Now I can voice all my ideas through the videos I produce. We refugees will dream big” Christian

You can subscribe to Christian channel “Les fous de Buja” on YouTube and check out his videos.

What is RET doing to ensure safety and health at work while staying and delivering?

On the World Day for Safety and Health at Work. RET is focused on addressing the outbreak of infectious diseases at work in particular the COVID-19 pandemic. RET’s management assessed the risks by following the developments of the COVID-19 outbreak globally and as of the first week of March, proactively started to take measures to protect its employees by cancelling international travels of RET staff with face-to-face meetings being replaced with teleconference or online meetings. As a next step a risk map and action plan has been elaborated with the regional and local RET staff to take country specific measures by considering the governmental arrangements to protect its employees and also finding optimal solutions to deliver the services to the most vulnerable by staying and delivering.

As a result of a series of collaborative planning, RET has launched multiple awareness campaigns amongst staff and project participants, providing factual information about the COVID-19 pandemic translated into more than 7 languages, including English, Spanish, French, Turkish, Arabic, Kirundi and Swahili and is rigorously combating misinformation and fake news concerning the pandemic at the country levels. RET is strictly following the related regulations and arrangements of the governments and raises the awareness of their employees and participants that if the disease starts spreading in their communities anyone even with mild symptoms such as cough or fever needs to stay at home, to inform RET’s responsible staff and request sick leave and administrative arrangements, to take everyday precautions to keep space between others, to keep away from others in public and to limit close contact and wash hands often, to avoid crowds as much as possible, to avoid public transportation, cruise travel and air travel, to contact their healthcare provider to ask about next steps, to have enough household items and groceries on hand so that they will be prepared to stay at home for a period of time.  

In countries, where no or limited local governmental restrictions apply and employees and project participants are regularly attending the field sites/offices/centers, RET is raising awareness and taking required measures on the adoption of safe practices at work, by briefing the employees on promoting respiratory hygiene at the workplace and making sure the workplaces are clean and hygienic, surfaces are disinfected regularly, and that employees and project participants have access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water (offices and field) and/or have access to basic hygienic materials and personal protective equipment such as hand sanitizers/dispensers, face masks, paper tissues, closed bins. In addition, risk assessments and required arrangements are carried out for meetings and events, offices and/or seats have been arranged so that the required distances are kept between the participants and employees. 

RET is taking utmost measures to keep employees at higher risk of getting sick from COVID-19 safe to reduce their risk of getting infected, such as the elderly staff, staff with chronic diseases and immunocompromising conditions and pregnant women. 

RET is addressing in its contingency plan the precautionary measures and the guidelines to follow in case of any outbreak in the workplace in addition to addressing the mental health and social consequences of a case of COVID-19 in the workplace and is offering counselling and support on a daily basis for more than 1000 employees on the frontline around the world. 

To the RET humanitarian heroes on the frontline in Afghanistan, Belize, Burundi, Chad, Colombia, Costa Rica, DRC, Ecuador, Kenya, Lebanon, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Turkey, Venezuela, we salute you. 

Loss of our beloved Founder Mrs. Sadako Ogata

It is with a heavy heart that we announce the sad news of the loss of our much beloved Founder Mrs. Sadako Ogata, who passed away peacefully on 22/10/2019.

Mrs. Ogata lived a life devoted to helping all generously, ensuring protection, empowerment, and solidarity with refugees, with vulnerable people in need, but most critically with vulnerable young people. She was inspired by the young generation; she worked wholeheartedly to restore and rebuild the lives of young people whose hopes and aspirations had been destroyed in their home countries due to discrimination or violence. She believed in youth as actors of positive change and in education as the best tool to mitigate the impact of conflict on youth, and lay a solid foundation for peace and development. She refused to see young people become despaired and their hopes shattered. 
And so, she pledged when she founded RET in 2000: 
“Education should be a promise, not a dream.”

For all who met Sadako Ogata, be it for an hour, a day, or a lifetime, she taught us how to live well through her example.
On behalf of all of us at RET, I extend our genuine sympathies to her family during this period of distress. Sadako Ogata’s presence will always be missed among us. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Mrs. Ogata have lost an inspiring mentor. We promise her legacy will continue through the support RET offers to vulnerable young people around the world. 

Mrs. Ogata leaves behind an organization that only she could have inspired, and her spirit will forever be the foundation of RET.

Board Members – President & CEO – RET Staff Worldwide

RET’s response to the Venezuelan crisis in Peru

While en route to Peru in order to flee one of the worst humanitarian crisis in Latin America & the Caribbean, Maria, a 7-year-old girl, exclaimed “how can I go to my school now!”

While schools in Peru are generally well-resourced, the influx of refugees and migrant from Venezuela is overstretching the capacity of the Peruvian education system to accommodate learners and provide them with quality education services; with children & youth, facing continued xenophobia and discrimination, particularly girls, whomare at greater risk of gender-based violence, sexual exploitation and human trafficking. According to the Metropolitan Lima Regional Education Office, approximately 30 percent (estimated 20,050) were served by educational services in the last school year,mostly in Lima and are expecting an increase in enrollment of Venezuelan learners when the new school year starts.

In a coordinated response to the Venezuela regional crisis, Education Cannot Wait announced a US$7million allocation to support first emergency response grants in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. 
RET as ECW grantee for Peru will work to increase the opportunities of out-of-school Venezuelan migrant, refugee and host community children and adolescents to access the Peruvian education system in 2020 in 2 Southern districts of Metropolitan Lima and will be responsible for funds management and overall coordination of project activities of the three sub-grantees (UNESCO, UNICEF, Plan International). Additionally, RET will be working closely with the Ministry of Education officials, local authorities and civil society organizations, including Venezuelan organizations.

Specifically, this project will reinforce the capacities of the Peruvian education authorities to address the timely and durable inclusion of out-of-school migrant, refugee and host community children and adolescents by the improvement of services that guarantee the access, retention and completion of education.

In addition, RET will be providing to out of school children and adolescents access to non-formal education programs to develop their competencies and skills, increase their self-esteem and help them access the formal education system. This program will be designed using approaches to advance inclusion, diversity, gender equality, and equal opportunities. We plan the non-formal education program to be also implemented in other areas of Lima as well and/or other major cities in Peru presenting a high rate of migrant and refugee children and adolescents. Finally, RET will be working to strengthening local communities’ capacities to protectout-of-school migrant, refugee and host community children and adolescents, to increasing integration and mitigatingxenophobia and discrimination.

In addition to Peru, under UNICEF leadership, RET has been chosen, amongst other international and national partners, to implement the ECW response to the Venezuelan crisis in Ecuador. Details on this partnership are under discussion at country level.

RET is working tirelessly in the Americas more specifically in Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Venezuela, and around the world to alleviate suffering and catalyze sustainable development in crises, conflicts and fragile contexts. With a presence in 31 countries, RET has helped more than 1.6 million direct beneficiaries and touched the life of more than 8 million indirect beneficiaries. 

Approximately 4 million refugees, migrants and asylum seekers fled the violence, poverty and food and medicine shortages in Venezuela since 2015. The situation in the country generated a very important migratory flows. According to UNHCR, the vast majority of Venezuelan refugees have found asylum predominantly in neighboring Colombia (1.3m) Peru (800,000) and Ecuador (263,000). Peru an already vulnerable state is the main host country for Venezuelan people in need of international protection with 280,000 people, of whom have applied for refugee status, and the second destination for Venezuelan refugees and migrants worldwide.

Bridging the cultural gaps through Music and Dance. An Initiative led by the Youth to the young people of Türkiye

“Whenever we share our music, we share our emotions, our fears, and the challenges that bring us together”  RET Youth Orchestra and Choir member.

Trained in leadership and communications, RET empowered eleven young participants coming from Belize, Ecuador/Colombia, Venezuela, Burundi, Chad, Kenya/Somalia, Lebanon, Syria and Türkiye founding the RET Youth Ambassadors Group.

The first meeting of the RET Youth Ambassadors Group was held late October 2017 in Mardin, Türkiye. The young participants were able to identify the main challenges they face in their communities and suggested prospective solutions having in mind a foremost goal of advancing and maintaining peace, stability and quality education in crisis-affected countries in order to realise the potential of all young people.


What started as a social action project led by the youth and aimed at promoting cultural cohesiveness has now become a substantial reality of the impact of positive social change with the Inauguration of two diverse, intercultural music and dance ensembles in Türkiye; The RET YOUTH ORCHESTRA AND CHOIR and the RET YOUTH DANCE COMPANY.

The latter introduces Syrian and Turkish amateur musicians and dancers coming originally from within RET language training and youth centres in southern Türkiye. Under the umbrella of the RET YOUTH Ambassador Group an initiative was born aimed at explore music beyond the limits of cultural boundaries; A project led by the youth to the young people from the host and refugee communities in Türkiye, using the art, music and dance as a tool to disseminate a culture of peace harmony and promoting social cohesion.

RET, committed to making this youth initiative substantial beyond the limits of real borders signed a five years’ partnership with the high-status “Haute école de musique Genève – Neuchâtel” (Geneva HEM) (2018-2022).
Through an intense and profound artistic exchange, fifteen International musicians, vocalists and dancers from the “Haute école de musique de Genève” HEM led by Professor Francis Biggi visited Türkiye to coach, practice, inspire and perform alongside RET’s young 35 musicians and dancers. Together they celebrated the uniting power of music in an Inaugural performance last October in Mardin.
Music and dance proved to be one of the ideal tools to bridging the cultural gaps and promoting social cohesion amongst young people from the host and Syrian refugee communities in Türkiye, coming from so many diverse backgrounds and cultures. The impact of any artistic expression through the arts, music or dance has a potential social function; it can definitely create a sense of belonging, improving social cohesion and spreading cultural cohesiveness.

This is music beyond the limits of cultural boundaries, this is how RET youth, our actors of the present and the actors of the future are empowered to embrace a culture of peace and harmony and become the actors of positive social change in their respective communities.
Behind every melody a RET musician plays, there is a vulnerable story; yet, there are beautiful dreams, hopes and aspirations of a better future. We, all, have a role to play in that.
Let us give them the opportunity to dream high.

Testimonies from RYOC and RYDC members:
“It is a beautiful journey, this entire musical collaboration and exchange, between the expertise of HEM and the personal life stories of the Orchestra members; we got resilient, united and seeking harmony in our music and lives.” Ozan Aslan, RET Youth Orchestra and Choir Trainer.

 “Young people can relate to music; music is a universal language.” RYOC member.

“When I close my eyes and start moving, I feel my soul wanders in other realms.” RYDC member.

“When I dance, I break all the walls imprisoning my body and mind.” RYDC member.

You can now support a youth to pursue Music or Dance Education by
contacting us on
RET recently opened a Music and Dance Centre in Mardin, Türkiye in an effort to empower youth and increase awareness of peace and non-violence in the community.

About HEM:
HEM “Haute école de musique Genève – Neuchâtel” (Geneva)”  covers a historical and stylistic fields of music ranging from mediaeval music to contemporary creation, as well as non-European music. A prominent cultural institution in the region, the Geneva HEM is an internationally renowned artistic and teaching community and is part of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland HES-SO.

Building a Life, Building a Future

How RET International helps San Miguelito Youth Transcend Challenges and Build Resilience

Overcoming the challenges posed by a complex and negative context that affects the youth requires commitment as well as expertise. Supported by the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) of the U.S. Department of State, the “Socio-Educational and Labour Reinsertion of Adolescent and Youth Offenders” programme implemented by RET International in Panama demonstrates that a seamless, holistic and sustained approach that both empowers and ensures continuity is of key importance in the process of building youth resilience.

The municipality of San Miguelito is part of the metropolitan area of Panama City and is the second most populated municipality in Panama. Comprising of 86’0754 individuals aged from 10 to 24, San Miguelito’s youth represents almost a third of the town’s total population. This high density of population brings with it a string of problems that include overcrowding, lack of services, minimal labour supply and low standards of living.

Other factors that particularly affect the young population worsen the scope of the problem, such as lack of life skills, very few job offers (and almost no sustainable ones) and absence of training opportunities that successfully respond to the needs of the labour market.

As a result, presently, many young people in San Miguelito are deprived of both educational opportunities and professional vocations. On top of that, young people in question tend to refrain from participating in civic and community activities – they feel threatened by the level of and are affected by discrimination in very concrete and visible ways[i].

In the face of this context of serious vulnerability, RET has decided to tackle the problem from two sides, employing a holistic approach.

In San Miguelito, RET doesn’t only work directly with young people strengthening their self-esteem, helping them to develop life plans, facilitating their access and retention in the educational system, and offering them livelihoods opportunities, but also collaborates closely with the local authorities and job providers, by starting capacity-building activities.
“This project[ii] has been developed in support of the Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies (IEI) of the Ministry of Government, together with the Municipality of San Miguelito and a series of strategic actors, to really focus on the generation of opportunities for adolescents and young people of the municipality”, explains RET International’s Country Director in Panama.

The specific actions implemented addressing young people in San Miguelito who are in conflict with the law were made complete with interventions to reduce the school dropout rates and to boost school attendance and uninterrupted education through specific pedagogical strategies.

This integrated approach was solidified with ties established with allied institutions aimed to offer support to young offenders to embrace opportunities and strengthen their resilience by empowering them to take control of their lives.

Breaking the Isolation

Initially, given the high level of mistrust the participants nurtured, RET International staff encountered several difficulties when creating a relationship with the youth. RET’s project implementers identified one of the key elements of this mistrust, as the social judgments that their environment created against them. This discrimination prevents them from recognising themselves as actors of positive social change.

In order to overcome this challenge, RET paid specific importance to socialisation, as both an outcome and an interwoven element of the programme.

Luz Arpi, Project Officer at RET in Panama explains this particular aspect in more detail: “Removing these barriers is a process of regaining their confidence, so that they can empathise with us and recognise our genuine interest in offering them possibilities and opportunities. It has been a process full of experiences and challenges, but also positive lessons, which allow us to say today that the intervention is valid and adaptable to other contexts.”

Encouraging the participants to leave behind the vacuum of isolation, the perception of being imprisoned to disenfranchisement and lack of empowerment; the experience of opening up to the social sphere accompanies skills development and strengthening of values. It increases the trust youth has for the people who accompany them throughout their lives.

“They noticed me, they helped me and they supported me. They worked hard on self-esteem because my self-esteem was low. They gave me a chance, which is what I like the most, an opportunity to get into a bar tender course. I finished it and I’m waiting for my diploma. It is very satisfying because I have learned so much about customer service, about serving others. Now I’m more tolerant, because of the fact that I have to deal with clients who have different characters and you have to know how to handle those situations.”. José[iii], a 20-year-old who participated in the project, comments about RET’s intervention and his story of breaking-out.

Opening to the social sphere always remains in interplay with the greater schemes of intervention. Through this process, young people find their own places in society, understand themselves progressively and identify their weaknesses. RET works with them to strengthen their capacity to confront the challenges they face.

The struggle toward resilience is always through an all-round approach and young people, when they eventually perceive that they occupy an important place in the society, they eventually gain the key to overcome future challenges: confidence.

This is why Carla, 22, who participated in the project stresses a budding perspective for her future that solidified after she gained confidence: “The experience in RET has been enriching. Because of some issues in my life, I did not stay in school, but they taught me to fight, to live positive things every day. I like it because, as a girl, I have learned not to fall down, but to move on. I love everything that we have done here, because they have helped us get out of where we were, which wasn’t really a good place. We have been able to move forward and to improve ourselves. We have learned things that are for life, who knows, tomorrow we could be great people. We learned to work as a team.”

Confidence, as the main outcome is accompanied by a greater capacity to listen and share with others, resulting in a feeling of community and reinforced resilience. It is the key that opens the door to opportunities and the very courage to make one’s dreams reality.

Making Dreams Reality

Once equipped with self-confidence, young people can develop the initiative to think long-term and sculpture life-plans. A vision of future can only be built and the practice of long-term, thinking can only be adopted once a solid basis is secured.

About this particular stage, Luz Arpi states: “An important change we could see in the young participants was that they could recognise their potentialities, their abilities, that they were able to identify their dreams and elaborate their life plan. They understood that they have dreams and that they have all the tools to be able to fulfil them.”

Gabriela, another young participant of the programme speaking about her achievements proves the value of having goals and long-term plans: “At first I thought it was boring, it was very hard for me. I am so weak; anything makes me want to start crying. They always encouraged me and told me that I could do anything, that I was able to achieve my goals and overcome my weaknesses. Thank God, I am finishing my studies and I am now part of Panama’s National Civil Protection System (SINAPROC). I like to be here, to meet new friends, have new experiences and share them. I used to be very shy and isolated from the others, but I have learned to relate and get along with my friends and the people around me. “

The final and one of the most important elements in RET’s action within the framework of the project is its sustained commitment to work with young people in a way that avoids re-victimisation. It’s known that in such contexts, the absence of proper follow-up activities leaves any attempt to build resilience as a one-time intervention whose fate depends on chance. If vocational and life-skills trainings and the implementation of a long-term life plan forms the crux of RET activities, sustained commitment guarantees their success.

Youth with Opportunities

RET International’s interventions allowed the challenged youth of San Miguelito municipality to become actors capable of generating positive change in their environments and communities. What these young people have learned will be very useful for their own lives, but also to support their peers who might have gone through similar situations and require someone to give them a hand.

Here lies the transcendence of RET International’s work, not only does it generate change within them, it also offers them the possibility to become multipliers of these changes within others and the community at large.


[i] MARTINEZ, Vicente. Socioeconomic and Cultural Reality of the Yourh of the Metropolitan Area of the Distric of Panama, Colon, La Chorrera, San Miguelito y Arraijan, in the Republic of Panama. Panama University. 2014.

[ii]RET International implemented in Panama the Project “Strengthening Sustainable Opportunities for Young People in San Miguelito”.

Jóvenes[iii]The names of the young people have been changed.

A New Resource for Youth Programming in Emergency Settings

The Desk Review of Programming Guidelines for Adolescents & Youth in Emergencies

Adolescents and youth as a distinct group are often overlooked during humanitarian crises, with their unique concerns and needs seldom prioritised. The Desk Review of Programming Guidelines for Adolescents & Youth in Emergencies provides an overview of programming guidelines for adolescents and youth in emergencies and is a contribution to the goals of the Compact for Young People in Humanitarian Action.


This resource is the result of an inter-agency collaboration, led by RET International, between the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE)’s Adolescents & Youth Task Team (AYTT), the Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network Australia (MYAN) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).


Access the Desk Review here:


While a range of guidelines for engagement in Adolescent and Youth programming has been developed to date, there has not been any systematic consolidation or compilation of these resources nor has there been any review of the existing gaps in availability of practical guidance and tools. To contribute to the closing of this gap, we have together undertaken a desk review, covering the following domains: Education, Health, Livelihoods and Durable Solutions (repatriation, re-integration into the hosting country and resettlement).


This publication provides a brief assessment of the most relevant programming guidelines dedicated to addressing the needs, concerns and aspirations of adolescents and youth in humanitarian crises. It presents a comprehensive mapping of practical guidance and related tools for humanitarians and communities to coordinate, plan, implement, monitor and evaluate essential actions for youth through all phases of an emergency.

View the official announcement by clicking here below:

Putting Peace in Practice

In 2016, RET’s interventions in the Republic of Chad have been integrated new horizons and methods with the launch of the “Peaceful Communities through Effective Youth Engagement” programme funded by the Federal Foreign Office of the Republic of Germany. Addressing the refugees and host community members alike in the South of the country, the programme´s interactive components that accompany core education activities such as Literacy and Numeracy classes, have opened a path toward sustainable social cohesion.

“Now…” says GK, “I can read my name, read whatever is written on the page of a newspaper. I no longer feel lost.” The classroom she has just left to offer her testimony is a part of the school building that is not far from central Goré in the South of Chad. Inside the classroom, the instructor is scribing on the blackboard the basics of French orthography, putting the “accents” on vowels while waiting for the participants to finish writing to answer the questions. The participants raise their hands and snap their fingers showing their notebooks to the instructor. Their enthusiasm and sheer energy, considering the age group most of the learners belong to, indicate that any concern with age is not a barrier when it comes to pursuing education.

Literacy classes constitute a core component of the extensive programme funded by the Federal Foreign Office of the Republic of Germany and implemented by RET International in Chad. They serve as an effective tool that enables refugees and host community members to consolidate the capacity to survive and navigate the social sphere. Fundamental education is what other components of operations across the country can hope to build on – including the DAFI Scholarship RET manages since 2012, supporting young people to continue their education in universities.

RET International entered the beautiful yet fragile land of diverse cultures and communities that is the Republic of Chad back in 2005, in the wake of the Darfur crisis. RET’s programmes aimed at providing formal and nonformal education to youth in regions that accommodate several other NGOs and UN Agencies, achieved remarkable results. The peace-building programme funded by the German Foreign Office is implemented in the South of the country which accommodates refugees coming mainly from the Central African Republic.

RET’s arrival has changed the face of the situation here. As for literacy classes; our sisters and brothers didn’t know how to read and write, they didn’t know how to calculate. But now, they can speak French, they know how to read and write”, Djoulai Bogama, The President of the Camp of Amboko summarizes the achievements.

The programme’s abundance of components and approaches, ranging from establishing “Peace Clubs” to various modes of life-skills training, from Sports Events to discussions, consolidate a comprehensive “toolbox” that allows RET to penetrate every stratum of the target communities, concretising achievements on many levels.

In another classroom setting, now toward the North of the town, the solemn concentration of the participants of the literacy class is replaced by an expressive joy, a passion to share and to contribute. As RET’s facilitator strolls the aisles of the classroom moderating the discussion, hands are raised to convey observations, opinions, emotions and experiences in local language.

Building on the fact that interactions are key to social cohesion, discussions serve as a means to bridge the gaps between communities, social groups, families and individuals. Their subjects can vary from inter-community issues to health problems and risks, generational gaps to consequences of bad practices.

RET doesn’t work on paper. RET goes to the refugees and they put refugees and locals together to discuss the source of conflict” Ngaba Korndoh Rodrigue, Representative of the Central Committee of the Youth explains, emphasizing the scale and the inclusiveness of the practice.“RET works with all categories of refugees, there are many things that have changed since RET’s arrival…”

The ‘Everyday Component’

Harnessing the power of communications is not only limited to discussions. The programme also uses performing arts and the creative impetus. The building where the Youth Council congregates is home to the town’s Youth Theatre Group founded as a part of the programme, whose activities aim conflict resolution.

Dialogue, on the other hand, doesn’t have to transpire only between groups of people tied together by roots or identity. It’s not functional to ignore the necessity of opening the channels for inter-generational dialogue – a type that can be even more challenging to establish.

It’s great to be able to talk to children and youth (about their problems)” expresses Professor Dima Daniel, teacher of Animal biology who fled Central African Republic. “We discuss for example, the subject of early marriages, the consequences of it… which will be an obstacle for those who marry early, having no idea of what marriage is. We for example discuss how to live in peace with others”.

Designed to diagnose and solve problems on a base level, and to tackle important issues, this particular strand of communications allows the youth to understand and solve the problems at present and see the tasks ahead. The approach is also aligned with RET’s core principle of regarding youth as an actor of peace and leaders of their communities.

On the other hand, it’s another fact that no matter the intensity and the inclusiveness of the dialogue, if the interactions fail to create a ‘ripple effect’ across the society, it is difficult to ensure genuine social cohesion on grassroots level.

Each afternoon, the youth gather in groups in certain places to discuss or to simply play football” says Benedict KORNDOH, the President of the Women Council, implying the everydayness of the interaction. “Now they (members of the host community and refugees) go to the hospital, to the school, to the town together.”

As she implies, football or other sports games have a specific meaning for the youth. In instances that concern women, the spirit of sisterhood functions the same way to cultivate bonds: “When I go to the market and if I don’t have money that day, I can say (to my friend), ‘Sister, will you lend me some?

This “communal” spirit that marks celebrations, sports games, feasts and even daily chores stand as a proof to the sustainability and the effectiveness of the project and its being claimed by its target groups. This also constitutes the reason why RET Participants, whenever asked for an account of their experiences, are eager to point out to the benefits of “dialogue”. The interactions RET encourages are, in the end, designed to splash beyond the regulated settings of the classroom, onto the agora, onto real-life, to become a motif of the mundane.

Education in the fundamental sense is inarguably indispensable to the labour of developing self-reliance in youth. In this regard, literacy and numeracy classes along with their “elder cousin”, the DAFI scholarships programme, are vital to RET’s work in Chad.

However, it’s only through interactive components that encourage bona fide exchange and speaking of minds, strength can be built. The programme funded by the Federal Foreign Office of the Republic of Germany ensures, daring to go all the way down to the micro, to foment back the macro, lasting and above all, sustainable results.

Of course, like everything else, continuous labour should be fermented with patience and a respect for the detailed course of the process. As Sanglare Filomene, a community relay working for RET puts it: “It’s always with time. Nothing happens in a moment”.

A Case for the Elimination of Discrimination

“Refugees and migrants are particular targets of racial profiling and incitement to hatred. In the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants adopted in September 2016, United Nations Member States strongly condemned acts and manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance against refugees and migrants. In doing so, they also committed to a range of steps to counter such attitudes and behaviours, particularly regarding hate crimes, hate speech and racial violence.” (

RET International is committed to assisting communities meet the educational needs, in the broadest sense, of young people made vulnerable by displacement, violence, armed conflict and disasters. Ultimately, we aim to help build a world in which the actions of empowered young people lead their communities out of crises and towards stronger social cohesion, peace and prosperity.

To offer this protection to young people and provide them with the opportunities to be actors of positive social change, we often work specifically to promote integration, inclusion and the elimination of discrimination in any form. We support vulnerable young people through educational programmes that create the conditions in which they can achieve their integration and improve their quality of life.

Young people face many sorts of fragile environments and contexts, from being a child soldier to having to live with violence and gangs. However, displacement is frequently at the root of their vulnerabilities and therefore we work very often with refugee populations. In their case, discrimination is a clear risk factor. In Latin America and the Caribbean, for example, xenophobia is a source of concern. It is hard for displaced young people to find decent jobs, and very often the youth have little or no access to the educational system.

In other contexts, refugees may have language barriers or cultural differences between themselves and the population of the host country. We have witnessed these challenges through our experience of protecting young people and their families in 28 countries, since our inception. Today we continue to do so in Afghanistan, Burundi, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Lebanon, Turkey, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia and Belize. In addition, we have just started working in Mexico with programmes promoting the development of resilience and self-reliance. We bridge the gaps which separate young people from education, livelihoods, income-generating activities or access to services (health, legal, protection and more), within and with the host communities.

Discrimination has a strong impact in all aspects of society, diminishing productivity, political stability, social cohesion and peace. The basis of discrimination is mistrust, which occurs most often through misconceptions about others, especially if the refugees are perceived as different or strange.

Discrimination is not natural or inherent in human beings. It is a learned behaviour transmitted within families, homes and communities often through emotionally charged biases. Negative messages in the media can strengthen the rejection of people because of their race, culture, nationality, gender or sexual preference amongst other reasons.

The question, in this case, is how can we deal with discrimination in these particularly harsh realities?

Governments can promote policies that favour integration, which would benefit their populations as well as the refugees they host. International agreements such as, for example, the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants can offer inspiration for such policies aiming to protect people against bias and discrimination. Governments therefore play a key role, but we too, as organisations and individual citizens, have a responsibility to develop a dialogue about differences, cultural diversity and integration. Sometimes the person who discriminates simply does not have enough information to change his or her own mind-set.

We are facing one of the most challenging times since World War II, with record-high numbers of forced displacement. The UNHCR’s Global Trends estimates that in 2015 65.3 million individuals were forcibly displaced worldwide, 21.3 million of which were refugees, 40.8 were internally displaced and 3.2 million are asylum-seekers.

That is why we need to understand these humanitarian needs and see the world as a whole, as a unit. Food and shelter are essential needs, but modern crises tend to be protracted and so integration becomes essential as well. Celebrating and recognising cultural diversity, respecting values and beliefs, promoting collaboration and solidarity are all elements of the solution to today’s crises.

How RET Faces Discrimination

  • Through the campaign “What Unites Us”, a movement created with young refugees in Latin America and the Caribbean, aiming to promote acceptance and integration into their host communities.
  • By developing events which celebrate cultural differences through sharing traditional foods, customs and songs, as we do regularly in Turkey. Children and young people share their experiences with others easily and they learn very fast about social cohesion and inclusion.
  • Some other very effective activities include street actions, such as peaceful demonstrations with messages of integration and calls to stop discrimination. RET organised one of these events last November in Lebanon, making sure the voices of those wishing to end violence against women were heard.

 Other interventions include:

  • Giving psychosocial support to our participants around the world, making sure they understand discrimination is not normal and reminding them that all must demand respect as members of a community.
  • Opening safe spaces and community centres, physically and virtually (through blogs and social media) to exchange different points of view and to hear other voices celebrating cultural diversity.
  • Developing interventions respectful of Human Rights and the protection of children and young people.

Finally, facing discrimination also requires always working hand-in-hand with the host governments and local host communities. This ensures that actions are well received, that they are within the priorities of the local government and can therefore have the highest impact possible for both the refugee and host populations.

Sixteen Days and More

March 8 was International Women’s Day, an opportunity to celebrate every effort made to eliminate violence against women and support women’s empowerment.

Violence against women is still a reality, as are the challenges they face to ensure, on equal terms, their rights and opportunities for growth and development.

Sadly, in 2017, one in three women still experience physical or sexual violence, most often by an intimate partner.[i] We are clearly not living in an equal world yet. In some countries women still do not have the same rights or opportunities to participate and contribute to society.

That is why it is important to highlight how individuals, groups and communities, in this case linked with RET’s work, are showing their commitment to women’s empowerment. We need to develop a conversation about violence against women. A few days ago was the International Women’s Day, and it is a good time to do so by talking about these local commitments, which together make a global difference.

More than 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women

As 2016 was drawing to an end, the world celebrated the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (25 November to 10 December). Along with many of our partners, RET participated in this global campaign, as we are growing ever more concerned by the plight of young women in fragile environments. Gender-based violence is present all around the world, but is not acceptable anywhere!

After the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign and all the messages of support, we clearly saw that the core of such a campaign happens in the field. Our teams and the young people and women we work with were the ones to really carry the campaign through numerous additional trainings, events or artistic performances.

Having a look at the activities our teams and beneficiaries implemented can help us understand the real purpose of such global campaigns and the concrete commitments they are designed to fuel.

TURKEY – Art as a Way to Create Understanding

In Turkey, the motivation was very high. As a response to the 16 Days Campaign, RET’s centre in Viran?ehir organised a Gender-Based Violence (GBV) training for male participants. Gender-based violence prevention will never work if half the world’s population do not consider that the subject is relevant to them, if they do not consider themselves affected or responsible.


This is part of RET’s holistic approach, which considers that engaging men is essential to solving the problem. Encouraging them to face their own situation, fears and challenges, opens the door to giving an equal treatment and respect to women. Men’s groups are part of the continuous work that our professionals develop in various countries and regions.

In Mardin and ?anl?urfa, our team decided to organise the premiere screening of Gülten Taranç’s award-winning film “Wish to Wash with Rain”.[ii] The film is a deep reflection on violence through the eyes of a woman; for participants of the centres it represented a great opportunity to discuss the issue of GBV. After the screening, our programme participants engaged in a lengthy Q&A session with Gülten and the main actors to dig deeper into the messages of the film.

Some RET Centres, such as the one in K?z?ltepe, chose to organise trainings on social cohesion and GBV. Others focused on artistic performances such as the Süleymaniye Centres, which celebrated with dances and a women’s choir.

In total, 11 events were organised throughout Southeastern Turkey.

When art forms such as movies, music and theatre are used as a way to exchange experiences and considerations about violence, it is possible to produce deeper connections and understanding through the use of metaphors. Art allows individuals to express ideas and experiences in a way words sometimes fail to do. As such, it is a fantastic tool, which our team in Turkey knows how to use effectively.

LEBANON – Awareness on the Streets

Women and youth in Jezzine, Lebanon decided to raise the awareness of their community directly in the streets.

These kinds of activities have a double effect. They are not only about the citizens in the streets or the awareness-raising of institutions or authorities. Marches represent opportunities for the women and youth involved to have their voices heard and to feel empowered to make changes in their own lives.

The youth in our project also wrote, directed and acted in a short film on GBV and created short theatre sketches to express the concern of the younger generation and their will to make GBV part of the past. Theatre is a powerful tool that moves ideas and feelings in a very strong way.

During the 16 Days Campaign, we were also very honoured to have the visit of Mr Philippe Lazzarini, UN Humanitarian Coordinator and Deputy Special Coordinator in Lebanon to our centre in Jezzine and have him engage with the youth and women we have worked with for the past year.


Latin America and the Caribbean: From Theatre to Advocacy

In Latin America, our teams worked with the women and youth of our programmes on the theme of GBV through a “Theatre for Integration” activity, which was part of the International Community Festival. This workshop addressed all forms of violence, by inviting participants to act the stories of confrontation they shared and redirect the actions to look for opportunities of forgiveness and integration. In this activity, all the stories highlighted the role of women in challenging situations like forced displacement, family relationships and health risks.

During the same period (December 3rd and 4th) the National Meeting of Young Women took place in Costa Rica with the stated objective of creating a political agenda to empower young women in the country. RET was in the Organising Committee along with the Vice-Ministry of Youth, Vice-Ministry of Citizen Dialogue, the President’s Social Council, the National Institute of Women, UNFPA, UNESCO and the Council for Young People. All the women who participated had the opportunity to give their perspective and collaborated to generate lines of action and advocacy messages for the rights of women and gender equality.

In the State of Táchira, Venezuela, RET and UNHCR with other local humanitarian organisations created a campaign called “la Messi Venezolana” (in reference to Deyna Castellanos the star football player from Venezuela). The campaign was made of two series of workshops for high schools focusing on GBV prevention and other gender identity issues directed to adolescents and youth.

Campaigns such as the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence are catalysts designed to encourage key issues to be taken up by relevant actors. They focus the attention of NGOs and communities and provide an incentive to act on certain themes. The concrete results are those described above. Women and youth who march or express themselves through art, artists who share their messages, men who feel included and trainings which transform awareness into positive behaviours.

This is not only part of one campaign, but also a daily effort developed by RET’s team and participants (specially youth and women), to change their life and raise awareness in society.

RET was therefore delighted to support the campaign, but we do have a reservation: sixteen days are clearly not enough. We will therefore continue to focus on this issue, in our programmes of course, but also in our communications. Our next article will therefore cover the often-untold story of young women soldiers in the illegal armed groups in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Gender-based violence is present all around the world, but is not acceptable anywhere!

(Also read: The Girls behind the Guns)


[i] UN Women:

[ii] The story of Gamze illustrates that the victims in women murders are not only those murdered. (