War Child began life as a handful of volunteers working in a borrowed loft. Today we are a global alliance active in 19 countries - working to improve the resilience and wellbeing of children living with violence and armed conflict.

War in the Balkans

Our story began in 1993. War Child was founded by British filmmakers David Wilson and Bill Leeson together with Dutch social entrepreneur Willemijn Verloop. The trio visited the former Yugoslavia during the Bosnian war to call attention to the plight of children there - and were horrified by the violence and ethnic cleansing they witnessed.

War Child historic photo archive

Musical workshops for children in bomb shelters

Photo: War Child archive

War Child historic photo archive - red fan with colleagues

The War Child team in 2000

Photo: War Child archive

Hope amid the bomb shelters

Yet, they also saw some small signs of hope. In the midst of the fighting, they observed musical workshops for children being held in the bomb shelters of Bosnia - and were convinced of the benefits of this creative approach for young survivors of armed conflict across the world.

Providing psychosocial support

Willemijn, Bill and David returned to their respective countries and resolved to take action. They began to organise fundraising events in support of children growing up in the midst of war. These small fundraising drives grew rapidly in scale and War Child was born.

Today we are active in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East - and reach hundreds of thousands of children every year as a global alliance.

Forming a global alliance

In January 2024, we launched the War Child Alliance - a vibrant network united by a shared belief: that no child should be part of war. Ever.

The Alliance is made up of a series of members - five War Child fundraising hubs in Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States and 14 international country operations.

Learn more about the Alliance and the vision behind it here.