Reporting by Gelina Fontaine, ChildFund Caribbean
Over the course of January’s 31 days, we’re making a blog stop in each country where we serve children, thanks to the generous support of our sponsors and donors. Today we learn about ChildFund’s programs in St. Vincent, which, along with Dominica, are under the umbrella of ChildFund Caribbean.
Yesterday we visited ChildFund’s programs in Dominica, next-door neighbor to
St. Vincent and the Grenadines, where ChildFund began operations in the early 1980s. Through the years, ChildFund Caribbean has provided a wide variety of services ranging from supporting the establishment of preschool centers, providing health support for infant immunization and proper nutrition and ensuring students enrolled in our programs have school supplies, uniforms, books, bus fare and hot meals.
In addition, ChildFund offerings for youth and their parents include skills training such as weaving, basketry, typing, carpentry, electrical wiring, sewing and home management. We’ve also worked to improve the housing status of families enrolled in ChildFund programs.
In 2011, ChildFund held consultations with children and youth and communities as part of a strategic planning process. Those consultations revealed that the top issues affecting children and youth in St. Vincent are drug abuse, crime and violence, teenage pregnancy, child abuse and lack of a father’s support. Poor parenting practices, poor quality education, unemployment, insufficient awareness of children’s rights and limited support services emerged as the underlying causes of these social ills affecting children, youth and their families.
While continuing support for infant health, early childhood education, ChildFund is now directing additional attention to literacy and a program for teen mothers.
Many teen girls are becoming mothers at an age where they should be in high school and college, furthering their self-development and improving their potential to secure a job. ChildFund, working through the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Children’s Federation Inc., is supporting the Teen Mothers Program to improve the standard of care and security for infants born to teen parents. The program also nurtures and mobilizes teen moms, helping them adopt good parenting practices all the while improving their own literacy and entrepreneurial skills.
“Working with the teen mothers at St. Vincent and the Grenadines gives us at ChildFund and our partners a great opportunity to reach the hearts and minds of young parents,” says Ana Maria Locsin, national director of ChildFund Caribbean. “It is always heartwarming to interact with these young women as they experience and learn through this engagement that they have better options in life, even while facing the daunting fears and challenges of early pregnancy.”
In addition to the goal of reducing the rate of teenage pregnancies, the Teen Mothers Program also encourages teen fathers to become involved in caring for their infant and toddler children, thus reducing the number of cases of absent fathers. Parents and grandparents of these teens also are invited to participate in various programs since it takes a community to raise a child.
Discover more about ChildFund’s programs in St. Vincent and how you can sponsor a child.