10 November 2015
When I think back about this past year, some of the most striking images that come to my mind are the faces of children, caught up in terrible events that they cannot understand, but that they must endure. The faces of children from Nepal, covered in dust and blood as they crawled from under the rubble that used to be their homes and schools. The faces of refugee children, traumatised by war, searching desperately for safety in a strange land.
During the festive season, while we enjoy food and laughter with our loved ones, it's impossible to ignore the plight of millions of children who have nothing.
2015 has been a terrible year for children. Conflict, disasters and extreme poverty mean that, shockingly, 150 million children will be homeless this Christmas time. That's 150 million children missing out on the security, warmth and support that every child needs and deserves.
A long cold winter in Nepal
When the earthquakes hit Nepal earlier this year, killing nearly 9,000 people and destroying 800,000 homes, we mobilised immediately to help children. Children like Krishla, who we found buried in a collapsed building. We made sure she got urgent aid to treat her injuries.
Happily, six months later Krishla has made a full recovery. But children in Nepal are still at risk. More than half a million people lost their homes in the earthquakes, and children are facing cold winter weather in temporary shelters.
We must be able to provide more homeless children with warm clothes, as well as continuing to rebuild the homes – and lives – that have been destroyed.
Fleeing unimaginable horror
The ongoing conflict in Syria has forced millions of people to flee their homes this year, desperate to escape the violence that has claimed so many lives. Many are children, and some are undertaking the long journey to Europe alone. Having survived the horrors of war, they face new dangers on the road.
We are working on the Greek island of Lesvos to provide food, water and clothing to the most vulnerable refugees.
We have set up private spaces where women can breastfeed. We are distributing dignity kits, which include soap and sanitary towels, and baby kits, which include nappies and rash creams, to mothers. By supporting mums, we make sure that they have what they need to be able to support their children.
A childhood on the streets
For some children, growing up on the streets isn't the result of a war or a disaster. It's the only life they know. I grew up in India, where many children live in extreme poverty. Manisha is one of them.
Despite being only four years old, Manisha is already scared of the gangs and drug dealers she often sees lurking near the disused railway station where she lives. Hungry and sick, she tries to play with her only toy - a piece of wood she pretends is a doll.
This Christmas, please help us protect homeless children like Manisha, so that she has the chance to go to school and build a life away from the streets. Thank you.