It is predicted that by 2050 there will nearly 10 billion people – more than 2.4 billion of them younger than 18. Not all children have the same chance to grow up healthy, educated and able to fulfill their potential as envisioned in the Convention on the Rights of the Child 25 years ago this year.
Disease, conflict, migration, and human rights violations affect children differently. In an ever connected world, these issues are brought into our homes. Children who have been trafficked or smuggled, served as child soldiers, are forced laborers, are disabled, and imprisoned are no longer hidden.
Children in refugee and internally displaced camps have unique needs and problems from interruption in schooling, poor health, nutrition, and mental health issues due to experiences in conflict, violence, natural disaster or loss of family members.
OSC recognizes that effective dialogue and messaging requires understanding children’s issues from the perspective of the child in order to create programs, messages and communication strategies that benefit these children and allow them to be healthy, educated, and empowered.
Disasters of all kinds affect older adults differently, especially those with chronic diseases, disabilities or conditions that require extra assistance. The focus after a major disaster, in on basic needs such as food, safe water, sanitation, and access to health care, however, there is less of a focus on the impact of chronic conditions which disproportionally affects the elderly.
The elders in communities have wisdom, life experience and an institutional memory of their communities that can pull communities together. They are generally respected individuals in the community who can help to soothe and reassure those who are frightened. They serve as the rock of the community but only if their needs are met.
OSC takes into account a community approach that includes elderly in surveys and communication strategies. The elderly have a wealth of information that can be leveraged to create better dialogue.
Mixed migration during the last five years had been growing due to the increasing number of unstable locations, conflict, natural and economic disasters. Millions are forced across borders to seek safety, security, and asylum or to reunite with family members sometimes to only to be forced to return involuntarily to their countries of origin. Although many migrants succeed in establishing themselves in new communities, others face difficulties due to social stigma, xenophobia, lack of access to health care or human rights violations.
Women and Girls
Women are caregivers, patients and managers of family and community health. For many reasons, women and girls suffer disproportionately and are affected differently during a disaster. We have seen this time and again from the Tsunami in 2005 to the recent Ebola outbreak.
Social norms and biologic factors create adverse health effects and violence among women and girls. Women’s health is unique. Maternal health creates new demands for adequate and appropriate care. The roles women play in communities and families is vital to the health of a community.
Women are insufficiently included in most community consultations and or decision-making processes which results in unmet needs. However, in some cases women are the agents of change for behavior, for advocacy and for peace. OSC considers women and girls input vital to effective communication.
Refugees/Internally Displaced Persons
Protracted conflicts, drought, famine, earthquakes, tsunamis and violence have displaced millions from their homes resulting in a surging number of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) with a unique set of needs. Refugees and IDPs caught up in these disasters experience immense trauma, from violence and shortages of basic necessities. They have seen high mortality, among family and community members, and witnessed the disintegration of their community structures and support.
OSC has extensive experience in documenting the needs and gaps, health status and human rights issues for these populations.