Amrita Acharia, Nina Wadia, Jenna Coleman call for urgent support for thousands more children as Covid-19 threatens to reverse progress on global education
Amrita Acharia, Nina Wadia, and Jenna Coleman (Photo credit/GettyImages)
Actors Amrita Acharia (Game of Thrones, Good Karma Hospital), Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who, Victoria, The Cry, The Serpent) and Nina Wadia (Eastenders, Goodness Gracious Me) today joined the Happily Ever Smarter appeal calling for urgent support for children living in some of the world’s poorest and most marginalised communities, as Covid-19 threatens to reverse progress on global education by a decade.
Organised by United World Schools (UWS), Happily Ever Smarter launched eight weeks ago and has raised £1 million from the generous British public to provide life-changing education to children in some of the most remote communities in Asia.
As the new variant of Covid-19 wreaks havoc on rural villages in Nepal, Amrita, Jenna and Nina are backing the appeal to raise urgent funds to support vital healthcare in the communities where UWS works, provide food and other essentials for vulnerable girls, deliver remote learning while schools are closed, and put finance in place to continue transforming children’s futures through education, once the pandemic is over.
The three actors are putting a spotlight on the challenges of getting girls into school and staying in education by sharing their real-life stories with films; Heena and Soneeya (voiced by Amrita Acharia) Chimini (voiced by Jenna Coleman) and Preeti (voiced by Nina Wadia). The girls all live in hard-to-reach villages, high in the Himalayas in Nepal, where only a third of children complete even basic education and thousands have never had a chance to go to school.
Prior to Covid-19, 130 million girls worldwide were already out of school and, in the poor and marginalised communities where children have no access to Zoom or technology, getting access to education is now almost impossible. School closures amid the pandemic have resulted in a loss of learning for millions of children and compounded the already dire progress on the global commitment to guaranteeing a quality education for every child by 2030.
Actor Amrita Acharia, currently filming The Serpent Queen, said: “My early childhood was spent in Kathmandu and Bharawa, where some of my fondest memories and values are rooted. The entire world has been affected by Covid, but it is particularly distressing to hear how the new variant of Covid-19 is devastating people’s lives there right now, especially with family still living there. The situation is terrifying but starting to abate. For those living in rural areas, the tragedy is starting to unfold.
“I voice the stories of Heena and Soneeya – two sisters who have never been to school and dream of what it might feel like to wear a school uniform and sit in a classroom. In the beautiful, but highly inaccessible region where they live, schools can be a long and dangerous journey away and families often need the girls to stay at home to help with chores or to work in the fields.
“Tragically, the global pandemic means that their chance of getting an education is now even further out of reach – and progress globally in getting children into school is likely to reverse by a decade. United World Schools is now even more determined to reach children in the world’s most remote places with life-changing education. Please join me in helping Heena and Soneeya achieve their dreams.”
Actor Jenna Coleman said: “It is deeply shocking to know that even before Covid, 130 million girls were out of school. And it is still girls that are missing out most on education, leaving them extremely vulnerable to exploitation and early marriage.
“I was humbled to hear about Chimini and her desperation to go to school; how she longs to learn to read and write and wants to understand everything. By adding my voice to Chimini’s story, I hope that many more people will get an insight into the situation faced by millions of girls around the world who, without being able to go to school, have no chance to unlock their potential and build a brighter future. By supporting the Happily Ever Smarter appeal we can give Chimini and thousands of other children a chance to create a better life, beyond poverty. Every girl deserves a right to an education.”
Nina Wadia said: “I narrate the story of Preeti and it’s incredible to learn that she is the very first girl in her family to go to school. She dreams of one day becoming a doctor and helping her community. However, for girls like Preeti, the opportunity to get an education is still very fragile and Covid-19 is now threatening her chance to stay in school. There is a real fear that post the pandemic the habit of education will be broken and millions of girls won’t return to school.”
“United World Schools is doing some great work to keep education alive by delivering learning packs and transmitting lessons over the radio to thousands of children. Right now, United World Schools’ support is more important than ever before.”
Happily Ever Smarter was launched by actor Amanda Redman [New Tricks, At Home with the Braithwaites and Good Karma Hospital] on 29 April who shared the story of Kanchi with a powerful animated film.
Tim Howarth, CEO of UWS said: “Thanks to the fantastic generosity of the UK public, over £1 million has now been donated towards this vital appeal. We are enormously grateful to all of our supporters, including schools across the UK, who have so generously donated. The pandemic has shone a light on the inextricable link between education, wellbeing and healthcare, and so it has never been more crucial to support children, both girls and boys, in these remote and marginalised communities and ensure they live Happily Ever Smarter.
“We are thrilled to have Amrita, Jenna and Nina on board to help us highlight the urgency of the education crisis and ask you to please give as generously as you can so that together we can transform the lives of thousands more children.”
Award-winning charity United World Schools (UWS) develops schools in some of the most remote, impoverished villages in the world and champions inclusive, innovative and sustainable education. Right now, in response to this deadly Covid-19 virus, UWS is providing a lifeline to hundreds of people at each school by supporting health services, providing food, and vital items and is keeping education alive with remote learning while schools are closed using radio lessons and take-away education packs.
Donations will help provide the following:
- £10 could provide a child in a remote area of Nepal with a radio to keep them learning through radio lessons.
- £35 could provide an at-risk girl and her family of 4 with food, sanitary pads and soap to last a month.
- £50 could train a local teacher in emergency response, Covid awareness and healthcare support.
- £80 could provide education for a year for one child.
#HappilyEverSmarter runs until 29 July 2021. To donate please visit www.unitedworldschools.org