It's only three weeks until Christmas. For many of us, our thoughts are turning towards spending time with family and friends at home. But worldwide, 14 million girls - equivalent to the population of greater London - could face a new year without the comforts of home, after being displaced by humanitarian disasters.
Children’s author Giles Paley-Phillips has written a fictional children’s story, based on the experiences of girls who ActionAid works with, to show how child sponsorship can make a difference to girls in countries affected by conflict. Watch 'The Story of Hope', narrated by BAFTA award winning actor Anna Maxwell-Martin, and illustrated by Hannah Asen.
Watch ‘The Story of Hope’
Sadly, experiences like Amala’s — the girl featured in the film — are becoming more common. There has been an almost 50 per cent increase in the number of girls who have been displaced since 2013, based on figures published by the United Nations. Girls trapped in humanitarian emergencies are at a higher risk of being out of school, putting them at risk of child marriage and sexual exploitation.
This is why Anna Maxwell-Martin supports ActionAid UK’s No Girl Afraid Christmas appeal.
“Every day it seems that we hear the stories of more and more people fleeing conflicts, or emergencies not of their making. So many of them are young girls, who suddenly have had everything snatched away and are often at risk of the even darker sides that wars can bring,” she says.
“I wanted to be part of this appeal, because I felt this story of one girl, based on stories of thousands of girls, is one that should be told.”
There has been an almost 50 per cent increase in the number of girls who have been displaced since 2013, based on figures published by the United Nations.
Giles Paley-Phillips said: “As a children’s author it was a challenge that I was thrilled to take on to write a story that would connect with both children and adults alike.
“I really hope that by bringing this story to life, that people in the spirit of giving are inspired to help ActionAid support some of these vulnerable girls and give them some security and return hope through their child sponsorship programme.”
Support ActionAid UK’s No Girl Afraid Christmas appeal
In the occupied Palestinian territory, our child sponsorship programme supports girls who have grown up in conflict. Many have suffered severe distress and trauma in the three wars that have been fought there since 2008. We support girls to get an education and we provide psychosocial support to help children recover from the damaging effects of trauma.
Sponsor a child this Christmas and see for yourself the difference your support can make.
Illustration: Hannah Asen