MK charity World Vision UK has launched a campaign asking people to donate their second-hand and new teddy bears to raise awareness of the plight of children fleeing South Sudan into Uganda.
The international aid and development agency based in Milton Keynes plans to place 700 teddy bears on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, in London on Thursday, July 27, to bring national awareness to the issue.
Tim Pilkington, chief executive of World Vision UK, said: “These children are arriving into Uganda alone, sick or separated from their parents. As a charity we believe it is vital their stories are heard and that as a country we stand with them. Being based in Milton Keynes, we know how generous this city is. Please join us by donating your teddy bears so that we can help the terrified children of South Sudan.”
South Sudan (East Africa), is the youngest and most fragile state in the world. The country is facing famine and civil war has raged for years. A quarter of the population have lost their homes and hundreds of thousands of people have been killed. Reports of torture, rape and atrocities - in which villagers are hacked to death and their villages burned to the ground - are common. Innocent children bear the brunt of the brutality.
Uganda’s massive refugee settlements now provide sanctuary to over half a million boys and girls who have fled from the horrors of South Sudan. Around 100 terrified children arrive every day. They arrive with stories of murdered parents, emptied villages and lost loved ones and no adult relatives to turn to for help. Unfortunately, the international community meets only a small proportion of the need in the region.
Mr Pilkington added: “World Vision is working in Uganda’s Bidi Bidi refugee settlement, now the world’s largest. World Vision workers look after the refugee children and find them foster families. They run “child friendly spaces” where children learn and play and where their emotional well-being can be monitored. So far, they have helped 52,000 children to recover from their traumas.”
The Fox Milne-based charity works to improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children by working closely with communities to tackle the root causes of poverty. They work alongside communities in close to 100 countries to bring about long-term change and responding quickly to emergencies that affect more than 250 million people around the world each year.
To donate your teddy bears, please drop them into World Vision House (Opal Drive, Fox Milne, MK15 0ZR). Donations can be received during office hours, Monday - Friday, 8.30am - 5.00pm. Bears cannot be returned, but World Vision will make sure they find a new home.