A Luxembourg NGO is marking two and half decades supporting educational programmes in the developing world.
The “Unity Foundation was created in 1991 by a small group of people having a unified vision of wanting to make a difference to the lives of people, in particular children, in many countries around the world that are faced with challenges,” a spokesman told Delano last week. “Our initiative has always been based on the view that sustainable difference can only be made by enabling people around the world to get a quality education.”
The organisation focuses on empowering youth in developing countries. “One of the biggest accomplishments of Unity Foundation is that we have managed, over time, to understand what our role is in the development process,” the NGO’s president, Fernand Schaber, told Delano. “We are working in a specific framework consisting of two lines of action, namely community schools and the programme of Preparation for Social Action (PSA).”
“Our role is to raise funds and support our local partner organisations and the local communities they work with,” Schaber said. “Their mission is to build on and develop the existing capacities of the people in developing countries, in order for them to learn how to take charge of their own development. In our opinion, this is the path to true sustainability, especially when it comes to education for children as well as youth, which is the cornerstone of every development effort.”
One of the images displayed as part of a Unity Foundation exhibition at the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg between Monday 6 and Friday 17 June. Photo: Unity Foundation
Last year the foundation supported 328 community schools in Cambodia, the Central African Republic, Indonesia and Malawi, with a total of 7,359 students enrolled, according to its 2015 annual report (PDF). PSA groups, led by tutors, offer “practical education to the youth living in rural areas”, and altogether reached 1,093 students in Cambodia, Colombia and Uganda.
Looking ahead, “as an NGO, we are facing recurring challenges such as fundraising in times of economic instability in Europe or difficult political situations in the countries we are active in,” Schaber stated. “Another challenge is continuously developing our own capacity here in Luxembourg, for example in the area of sensitisation. The work we do is so important; it is essential to communicate about it to the Luxembourgish public through all kinds of different activities to get our message of empowering local communities through education across.”
That will be followed by a gala ball on 19 November at the Cercle Cité, said the Unity Foundation spokesman. “This will be a celebration event with many guests, some music, a silent auction and a dinner to truly celebrate the past 25 years with some of our friends and donors.”
A teacher and his students at a school in the Central African Republic which receives support from the Unity Foundation. Image provided by the NGO.