by Nicole Duciaume
ChildFund Regional Sponsorship Coordinator
Americas Regional Office
This week marks my fifth anniversary working for ChildFund.
Because I was born in an ambulance on the way to the hospital in the middle of a blizzard in upstate New York, I joke that this was a testament to my nomadic nature from the get-go.
From there I grew up in rural south Florida, attended high school in Brazil and college in Tennessee. Work took me to Miami Beach, Washington, D.C., and then to Richmond, Va., where I started with ChildFund five years ago. Most recently I relocated to ChildFund’s Americas Regional Office in Panama.
So at the five-year mark with ChildFund, here are my reflections:
- I’ve been able to travel to some amazing countries, meet dedicated staff and learn from the communities, families, youth and children.
- I’ve seen the smiles, heard the laughter and felt the joy of children, parents and communities who want, and deserve, a better future.
- I’ve conducted project assessments, trainings, program reviews, process improvements and even helped set up a new National Office.
- I’ve visited Asia, Africa and the Americas, and it is amazes me that there are more things that we have in common than that set us apart.
- I’ve surprised community members in Mozambique, Angola and Brazil with my Portuguese, improved my Spanish (even translated for sponsors when meeting their sponsored children in Bolivia) and learned a few words in Kiswahili (well, enough to order cold water and comment on the many lions).
- I’ve sat in youth group discussions as they’ve identified risks (dangerous roads, bars that are open late, poorly lit areas, unprotected water sources) and resources (safe play areas, health centers, libraries, teachers who care, places to play music and express themselves).
- I’ve cheered and clapped for children’s presentations, songs, plays, drum lines and dances as they gave a powerful voice to the concerns they have for their own futures and that of their communities.
- I’ve met with local government heads to discuss creating community-wide support networks for children; participated in parent discussions about their role in developing confident and strong children; and played on the floor with children because every child has a right to play unabashedly regardless of culture, race, age, gender or HIV status.
- I’ve sponsored Lopeyok, a teenager in the Samburu region of Kenya, for the last five years and have seen the evidence of progress in his life and in the stories he tells of his community.
As I plan next year’s strategic priorities and budget, I wanted to take time to celebrate the last five years and all that I have seen and experienced as a ChildFund employee and as a representative of the goodwill and support of our generous sponsors.
Visit ChildFund’s Facebook site to see Nicole’s “Faces and Places of ChildFund” retrospective photo album.