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Focusing
on a positive impact

Reflecting on World Refugee Day as a Johnson & Johnson Secondee with Save the Children Lebanon

By Tanja Schaller
A Personal Note as a Secondee in Lebanon​​: My six months Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Secondment started beginning of June when I traveled from Switzerland to Beirut, Lebanon. My employer, Johnson & Johnson, offered me this unique opportunity to give back to society by using my skills, knowledge and resources. During my assignment, I will support J&J's long-term partner, Save the Children, whose presence in Lebanon works to give vulnerable children access to education, protection and a chance to succeed in life. My specific work will focus on strengthening the capacity of Save the Children's field teams, particularly in the area of Child Protection to promote and ensure the well-being of vulnerable children in Lebanon. The role includes the development and implementation of best practices.

 

For me it was a mix of motivation to go for such a once in a lifetime experience: I wanted to do something different – out of my comfort zone, while doing something good and impactful to a community living in difficult circumstances.

Even though I am still at the beginning of my assignment, I know that I am in a country greatly impacted by the now eight-year-long conflict in neighboring Syria. According to UNHCR, Lebanon remains the country hosting the largest number of refugees per capita. I also learned that over half of Syrian refugees in Lebanon are children.

The Aim of World Refugee Day

Therefore, it is time to pause and reflect. Today is the World Refugee Day. It was first established by the UN General Assembly in 2001, offering us a chance to raise awareness in our own communities about the conditions endured by millions of refugees every day. According to UNHCR, there are more than 25 million refugees worldwide; more than 11 million of them are children.

Children in the refugee crisis

Many refugee children have been injured escaping their homeland. Others have been orphaned or lost parents and siblings – robbing them of a happy childhood. As detailed in Save the Children’s 2019 Global Childhood Report: Changing Lives in Our Lifetime, more than 1 in 2 refugee children are out of school. Children out of school are increasingly vulnerable to discrimination and potential abuse, as well as exploitation by traffickers, or the pressure of entering into early marriage. More than half of these out-of-school refugee children live in just seven countries: Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lebanon, Pakistan and Turkey.

The contribution of Save the Children in Lebanon

In 2017, Save the Children Lebanon (SCL) has reached over 265,000 refugees, including more than 102,150 children through programs related to the basic humanitarian needs. One of the areas is Child Protection, which I will support. Theteam works on preventing and responding to children (both refugee and vulnerable Lebanese children) affected by violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect. All programs are done in collaboration with other NGOs or community groups to achieve the objectives.

“We have a responsibility to care for and protect all children, especially those most in need. This is a Save the Children mandate and our staff make it a daily commitment. Tanja, with only a few days in, is already showing the kind and level of commitment necessary to uphold the right for all children to be protected from abuse, violence, neglect, and exploitation.”– Monica Martinez, Child Protection and Gender Technical Specialist at SCL

After the first week, I learned that the key to success is in building long-term partnerships with the private and public institutions to ensure the programs to address the most vulnerable children’s need are secured. I remain very excited in making a real impact while learning more about the dynamics of the Lebanese country and culture.

About the J&J Global Community Impact Secondment Program 

J&J Global Community Impact invests in people on the front lines of care as they change the trajectory of health for the world’s most vulnerable people, their families, and their communities. We are inspired to help create a world where people, no matter their circumstances, have access to quality health care. The Secondment Program, part of the Johnson & Johnson Talent for Good Strategy, is a long-term collaboration between Johnson & Johnson, our employees, and our NGO partners to invest in and build the skills of people on the front lines of care in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Through full-time field assignments of up to six months, our employees transfer their knowledge, expertise, and passion to our partners at the heart of delivering care, uniquely give back to society, and change the trajectory of human health. By the end of 2019, 60 J&J employees will have taken part in the program working for 8 NGO partners across 25 countries in the EMEA region. Learn more here.

About Save the Children

Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. Since our founding 100 years ago, we have changed the lives of more than 1 billion children. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share. Follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube.

Picture taken by Save the Children Lebanon during a play with refugee kids