ChildFund Alliance

Children’s Rights: An Enduring Conversation

This gem of a video was created by ChildFund Australia five years ago to honor of the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. With their kind permission, we’re sharing it in these last few days before the Convention’s 25th anniversary Nov. 20 because we think it’s every bit as relevant now as it was then.

The rights that are set forth in the treaty are sometimes simple, sometimes complex. The language is a bit of a mouthful for children themselves. But they get it, as you’ll see in the video. Enjoy!

ChildFund Joins Other World Agencies in U.N. Anti-Violence Effort

By Andrew Johnson, ChildFund Alliance Deputy Secretary General

Every child has the right to live and thrive in a safe and caring family environment, free from all forms of violence. That’s what the ChildFund Alliance and our other peers believe.

Earlier this month, the governments of Canada and Paraguay co-hosted six child-focused agencies — ChildFund Alliance, Plan International, Save the Children International, SOS Children’s Villages International, UNICEF and World Vision International — at the United Nations headquarters in New York to discuss violence against children and ways to prevent it. The goal is to make sure children’s rights are a high priority in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, which is set to be agreed upon by United Nations member states in September 2015.

 

freedom from violence group

A World without Violence against Children panel, including ChildFund’s Jim Emerson (far left).

Millions of children experience abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence on a daily basis at home, at school, at work and in their communities. The consequences can be life-long and also spread to other generations; in the worst cases, violence can lead to a child’s death. Violence can also cause economic disadvantages: lost productivity, and a reduced quality of life. Most broadly, it has far-reaching costs for society, slowing economic development and eroding nations’ human and social capital.

During the eighth session of the intergovernmental Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, the governments of Canada and Paraguay co-hosted A World without Violence against Children, along with coordination from the six agencies. ChildFund Alliance, for one, has taken a stand to advocate for children’s issues — particularly freedom from violence and exploitation — to be included in the U.N.’s post-2015 development agenda. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring the prevention and responses to violence against children to the debate about the U.N.’s future priorities, which affect its work in the countries where ChildFund and other agencies work.

Jim Emerson, secretary general of the Alliance, thanked the co-hosts, participating children and the speakers. He highlighted the pervasive presence of violence against children, and the importance of the post-2015 development agenda addressing this issue.

“But it’s not just our organizations saying this,” Emerson noted. “Most importantly, this is a call from children all over the world. Children are asking for an end to physical and humiliating punishment; sexual violence and abuse; harmful child work and child marriage; trafficking and other harmful practices.”

Migena, an Albanian girl who participated in a post-2015 consultation in her home country, organized by SOS Children’s Villages International, also joined the meeting via Skype. She highlighted the need for the next generation of development goals to address the different forms of violence, exploitation and abuse against children, as well as the importance of children’s participation in the process. Raising awareness in communities and getting state agencies more involved in regions where violence occurs are equally important, Migena said. “Children are going to rule the world in the future,” she concluded.

Canada’s and Paraguay’s U.N. ambassadors, Guillermo Rishchynski and José Antonio Dos Santos, both spoke about their countries’ work to bring children’s issues to the attention of the U.N. work group, and their speeches were followed by a panel discussion moderated by Al Jazeera English journalist Femi Oke. The panelists also answered questions from the audience in New York and online.

Marta Santos Pais, the U.N. secretary-general’s representative, added that she hears children in many countries talking about how fear defines their lives.

The panelists, among them UNICEF’s chief of child protection, the U.N. secretary-general’s special representative on violence against children and the World Health Organization representative to the U.N., discussed many aspects of this issue. Susan Bissell of UNICEF noted that it’s important to communicate the fact that violence against children is preventable and that there are concrete solutions to the problem, drawing on successful programs from around the world. She also pointed out that the reduction of child mortality rates could be offset in the future by violence against children.

Marta Santos Pais, the U.N. secretary-general’s representative, added that she hears children in many countries talking about how fear defines their lives. Werner Obermeyer of WHO called attention to links between violence against children and other types of violence, which often lead to risk-taking attitudes that cause declines in health. 

ChildFund’s Emerson highlighted the importance of this issue for development and remarked that violence against children has a series of economic implications that transcend the direct costs of responding to it. Evidence shows that prevention is much more cost-effective than response.

Santos Pais also read a statement of support from the U.N.’s Committee on the Rights of the Child, urging governments “to make the protection of children from all forms of violence a high priority goal on the post-2015 agenda, as an issue of utmost international as well as national importance.”

Inspired to Help Children in Need

By Joern Ziegler and Antje Becker, Chief Executive Officers, ChildFund Deutschland 

To commemorate ChildFund’s 75th anniversary, we invited the leaders of each of the 12 ChildFund Alliance member groups to reflect on the past and future of their own organizations and the Alliance. Today, we hear from Germany.

In 1978, ChildFund Deutschland was established as CCF Kinderhilfswerk (translated from German as “children’s fund”) through the initiative of Karin Astrid Greiner, a Dutch woman married to a German. During an extended stay in Brazil, she witnessed the important work of Christian Children’s Fund. 

Antje Becker

Antje Becker (center)

Back in Germany, she and some friends laid the cornerstone for a child sponsorship organization. CCF Kinderhilfswerk’s foundation era, characterized by a steady growth in sponsorship numbers, lasted till 1993. By then, the organization had grown into full self-financing autonomy. In the following years, ChildFund Deutschland identified new partners in developing countries — genuine nongovernmental organizations in their countries that were not part of an international network. 

This type of collaboration — an early beginning to our support of civil society organizations in developing countries — led to many years of close cooperation with organizations in Latvia, Lithuania, Burundi and Congo. Although Latvia and Lithuania are now members of the European Union, which has allowed their partner organizations to support themselves, Burundi and Congo continue to be important program countries for ChildFund Deutschland, with many children in desperate need for support.

Joern Ziegler in Vietnam

Joern Ziegler in Vietnam.

During the 1990s, a group of supporters in Northern Italy established an organization to raise funds for ChildFund Deutschland’s activities. Today, this association is well-established as ChildFund Suedtirol and remains associated with ChildFund Deutschland, contributing reliably to the well-being of children. ChildFund Suedtirol’s board made the decision not to establish an administration of its own but to rely on the services available through ChildFund Deutschland. 

In 2001, ChildFund Deutschland´s board made a strategic decision to expand the funding and program portfolio of our organization. In addition to the classic child sponsorship system, we built up non-sponsorship donations and grants from the German government and the European Union by 30 percent within five years. 

75th ChildFund logoThis has allowed more support for more children in more countries. The new approach has led to new partnerships and new activities in a number of East European countries, especially in Ukraine. Our cooperation with a committed Ukrainian partner organization has continued for many years and gives us hope for more support of needy Ukrainian children and youth. 

In recent years, ChildFund Deutschland became a founding member and committed supporter of the global ChildFund Alliance. In 2009, we changed our name to ChildFund Deutschland, a step to underline the importance of the global ChildFund Alliance, to make the overall branding more visible and to spread the word about ChildFund’s important work. ChildFund Korea and ChildFund Deutschland were the first two non-English-speaking organizations to introduce the English words ChildFund as part of their names.

Operationally, ChildFund Deutschland closely cooperates with most of the 12 ChildFund Alliance member organizations, the most important partner being ChildFund International. At the same time, we give attention and invest more effort to support partner organizations that are not yet members of the Alliance, especially in the Southern Hemisphere and Eastern Europe.

ChildFund Deutschland

A staff meeting at ChildFund Deutschland.

As we look to the future, ChildFund Deutschland is working to identify new innovative models of funding, programming and partnerships. Part of this process has been the establishment of ChildFund Stiftung, a foundation accepting endowments and building up capital to support ChildFund’s work. Partnerships and other activities within Germany are also part of the plan.

Despite great progress in many areas and countries, achieved through the tireless efforts of many people, thousands and thousands of children continue to need the committed support of donors, sponsors and NGOs. ChildFund Deutschland is willing and ready to meet this challenge!

Children’s Voices on Violence and Exploitation

Member organizations of the ChildFund Alliance believe a focus on child protection can foster a global mindset that prioritizes and protects children. To this end, we are working hard to ensure that child protection appears among the global priorities that will follow the Millennium Development Goals for reducing poverty worldwide.

alliance logoThe children on whose behalf we are acting, it turns out, have much to add to the conversation. This year, the ChildFund Alliance held more than 50 focus groups with more than 1,300 children in 41 of the 58 countries where Alliance member organizations, including ChildFund International, serve children.

The first question we asked them was, “What makes you feel free?”

A 15-year-old girl in Bolivia answered, “I feel free when I reach my dreams and the elders don’t tell me to shut my mouth.”

The rest of the questions largely built on the first: What makes you feel free from violence and exploitation? To take action to stop them? What can world leaders and adults do? What are your risks?

Too many children experience violence and exploitation, most often sexual violence, exploitative labor conditions and physical and humiliating punishment. Even in school, sexual harassment and corporal punishment are everyday occurrences; still, children also cite access to education as a primary key to their keeping safe from violence and exploitation.

“If I were president, I would build a very nice school in every village,” says a 12-year-old Laotian boy.

Children have ideas about how the situation might be improved, and they are clear that they want a role in that change. They call upon legislators to create and enforce laws to protect them, and upon all adults to learn about the issue, to listen to children and to respect them.

“I don’t understand why we are treated inhumanely and not considered citizens,” says one girl, 13, from Nepal.

A 15-year-old boy from Liberia says it another way: “Overlooking me is violence.”

Please sign the ChildFund Alliance’s Free From Violence and Exploitation petition. Thank you for caring about children.

Vote for ChildFund Alliance!

By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer

We’re pleased to announce that ChildFund Alliance (the global coalition formed by ChildFund International and 11 affiliates) is a finalist in the MY World People’s Choice Award, sponsored by the United Nations MY World Global Survey. The survey asks people to identify changes that would make the world a better place.

Because this is a people’s choice prize, we need votes! Please take a moment to vote for ChildFund Alliance, and then invite your Facebook friends to do the same. Voting closes at midnight EDT on Sept. 17, and the winner will be announced at an event in New York on Sept. 25.

Myworld CaptureThe ChildFund Alliance created a child-friendly version of the survey and conducted more than 50 focus-group interviews with children, providing data to the U.N. To promote children’s engagement in the survey, the Alliance also organized a conference with more than 50 countries represented.

The MY World Awards recognize the work of organizations that have helped spread the word about the survey, which allows people to express their views about global priorities for the post-2015 development agenda. More than 850,000 people in 194 countries have participated, and the number is expected to top 1 million by the end of the month.

Thanks for voting!

Let’s Band Together to Help Children

By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer

Child labor is increasingly in the news, whether in Bangladesh, Afghanistan, southern Europe, southern Africa or India. With an estimated 150 million children aged 5 to 14 working worldwide, often in dangerous or exploitative conditions, child labor is a huge problem that needs fixing.

ChildFund sought to bring greater awareness to the issue last month in a poll conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs. We learned that 73 percent of the 1,000 adults surveyed thought that less than 1 million children worked, so clearly, there’s a lot of education that needs to happen. (View the full infographic.)

child labor pollIn ChildFund’s work in developing countries and impoverished areas worldwide, we provide help to individual children, families and communities. We’re also seeking to make a difference at a global level by building awareness of child-protection issues.    

As a member of the ChildFund Alliance, ChildFund is joining our 12 global affiliates in the Free From Violence and Exploitation petition, which is seeking to gather thousands of signatures in support of children’s rights. We encourage you to add your name to the list and spread the word to your friends and loved ones. The ChildFund Alliance will present this petition to the United Nations as evidence that people around the world place a high priority on child protection.

In 2000, the U.N. created the Millennium Development Goals with the goal of reversing extreme poverty worldwide by 2015. Right now, these world leaders are choosing priorities for the post-2015 agenda. Child protection was not on the list of original MDGs. Help us show governments around the world and the U.N. that protecting children is crucial to ending poverty. Please sign the petition today.

After Japan’s Tsunami, a Glimmer of Hope

By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer

From ChildFund Japan, one of our ChildFund Alliance partners, comes a touching video about how the seaside city of Ofunato is recovering from the deadly earthquake and tsunami that occurred on March 11, 2011. “The Garland of Smiles,” which focuses on ChildFund’s people-centered approaches to healing and rebuilding, is nearly 22 minutes long, yet if you are interested in seeing what has happened in the aftermath of the tsunami, it’s well worth viewing.

More than 15,000 people in Japan died as a result of the disaster, and as we see in the video, numerous homes and buildings were destroyed, forcing as many as 8,000 people in Ofunato to live in temporary housing. It’s in this makeshift community where we meet ChildFund Japan project manager Yoshikazu Funato, who oversaw many initiatives to bring back some normalcy to children and adults.

ChildFund Japan, which normally assists children and families in the Philippines and Nepal, had to focus its energy inward after the disaster. With financial support from other ChildFund Alliance members, including ChildFund International, ChildFund Japan concentrated its activities in Ofunato because outside support was less available there than in other stricken areas. Beginning its work in the weeks after the earthquake and tsunami with a variety of volunteers and staff, ChildFund completed its projects in March 2013.

In preparation for the rebuilding, Funato and others conducted a door-to-door survey to see what Ofunato’s residents wanted and needed most. Some projects were small — building wooden benches in the temporary communities to promote socializing — while others were more ambitious, like providing grief counseling to preschoolers and creating a collective farm that keeps residents supplied with healthy food.

As a result of ChildFund Japan’s work throughout the past two years, some residents in temporary housing became invested in the improvements, from working at the farm to taking part in a residents’ association.

As you’ll see in the video, Ofunato has undergone a transformation in the past 24 months — not just physically but in attitude as well.

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