As we conclude our 75th anniversary blog series, we are focusing on success stories of youth and alumni from ChildFund’s programs in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe. Today, we meet Rosa, a former sponsored child from the rural state of Jalapa in Guatemala and the youngest of six siblings. Today, she works for a local partner organization affiliated with ChildFund Guatemala. Here is her story in her own words.
Reporting by ChildFund Guatemala
One of my dreams was to work for the organization that helped me when I really needed it. Now, I’m working for ChildFund, and I want to share with you my own story!
My name is Rosa (people call me Rosy). At the age of 7, I started participating in the ChildFund projects through our local partner organization, Cactus. Nutritional, educational and health programs were implemented in the region where I was sponsored. I participated in the programs for 17 years, and it was the best experience!
The program that I participated in when I was 7 was the nutritional one, because in my community there were many children with malnutrition problems. At the same age, I started attending primary school; six years later, I started elementary school.
When I was 16, I was supposed to start going to secondary school. But it was a really hard time because my father did not allow me to study; he said that girls have to stay at home doing chores and have to get married to serve their husbands. Also, transportation was another problem. There were no buses, and school was so far away from my home, so the only option to continue studying was to move to another state. Too much for my overprotective parents!
So, people from the ChildFund project offered me a scholarship and helped me convince my parents to let me study. After long talks, my parents agreed with me. I lived with one of my relatives; they offered me a bedroom and enough food.
I was able to graduate, and I became the first girl to graduate as a teacher in my community.
After a couple of years, someone from ChildFund’s local partner Cactus called me to ask me if I was interested in working with them, and I said yes, of course. It was like a dream! So, I started working for Cactus and ChildFund as a sponsorship assistant doing many administrative chores.
Also, I worked as a program coordinator, and now I am working as a technician in the project Let Me Tell You, to increase children’s literacy, self-expression and research skills.
I have been working here for 17 years, and I am very happy working with children. I had a dream a few years ago, and now I am doing what I love to do.
ChildFund has been working for 75 years in the world, and working here means a lot to me. Serving the new generation is awesome! When I was sponsored, I received so much love, and it changed my attitude. Now I am returning all of these gifts to my children in the communities, and I like to see how children are changing their attitudes and aspirations, by reminding them that dreams can come true with perseverance and effort.
Now I am 41, and I have two children, Andrea Isabel and Julio Fernando, 5 and 12 years old. My two children are my inspiration, I love and am really proud of my parents, I have a family that always supported me and a job that I love! What else I could I ask for?
By Karlo Goronja, ChildFund Communications Intern
Many ChildFund staff members have hidden talents, but everyone at our international office in Richmond, Va., knows about Pam Brown’s way with a paintbrush. An executive assistant in our information technology department, Pam painted an intricate — and large — world map mural unveiled in our employee lounge last month. It’s adorned with individually decorated Watotos, the child figure that replaces the “I” in the ChildFund logo.
A few months ago, communications director Cynthia Price came to Pam with the idea of using the Watoto — Swahili for child — in a wall decoration commemorating our organization’s 75th anniversary.
“The whole idea intrigued me, so of course I said yes,” Pam says. “We brainstormed a couple of times, and once we were on a roll, ideas just kept flowing out of us.”
As Pam did the detail work on tiny islands in the Pacific, as well painting the sprawling continents, other staff members decorated paper Watotos, taking inspiration from the 30 countries where ChildFund works.
“For me, there’s special significance to the wall,” says Meg Carter, sponsorship communication specialist. “It reflects our love for the children, countries and cultures we serve. I lived in Guinea in 2010 and 2011, so I have many photos of children and daily life there. When we had the opportunity to participate in this project, I went through my photos to find the best ones. I wanted to show what it’s like for a child to live in Guinea.”
Meg’s Watoto displays the colors of the Guinean flag (red, yellow and green), the names of the country’s important holidays, and photos of children. She also created a Watoto for Mozambique using the same ideas.
“Many of the Watoto also reveal a deep understanding of the traditions and daily life in those places,” Meg says. “It says ‘We love you.’ It’s kind of like giving someone a Valentine that shows you know them deeply and want to be a part of their life.”
Although the wall has received much attention from staff and guests alike, perhaps the most important aspect to the artwork is its symbolism for our staff members, both in Richmond and abroad, and our many local partner organizations.
According to Pam, “I work for ChildFund, and I know the deep meaning of this mural firsthand and know how everyone feels about the welfare of the children this mural represents.”
By Paul Brown, CEO, ChildFund New Zealand
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 New Zealand.
How does an international nongovernmental organization in a country of 4 million in the southern Pacific help communities in Africa and Asia break free from poverty?
It becomes a better storyteller.
ChildFund’s shared vision of a world free from child poverty requires positive, long-term change for children and their communities. Ultimately, our success can only be measured with better outcomes for children, but in the early 2000s, ChildFund New Zealand had no way of telling the broader story of how we were achieving our vision. We needed to focus on how we connect our supporters with the children and the communities we serve to tell this story.
Founded in 1990, ChildFund New Zealand has made it possible for New Zealanders to sponsor children in more than 20 countries. By the mid-2000s, New Zealanders were sponsoring children in 881 projects around the world, impacting many lives. Although this kind of reach seemed impressive, it was difficult to amplify and celebrate the impact ChildFund was achieving.
At this time, ChildFund New Zealand had started to secure government support for projects. Our staff had begun to form strong relationships with a number of ChildFund’s national offices and the communities being supported. It became clear from all the parties involved that there was interest in developing ongoing and deeper relationships with select communities as a way to achieve sustainability quickly.
Flowing from this idea, we created our Dedicated Programme Area Partnerships Strategy, which enables ChildFund New Zealand to invest several millions of dollars each year into a targeted area to accomplish the community’s strategic goals. We also began layering grant funding and appeal funding for projects to support ChildFund’s in-country sponsorship programming.
At the same time, ChildFund New Zealand has invested in evolving its Auckland-based team, focusing on analysis and impact measurement and also training all members of the team to improve understanding of development and the context of poverty in the five Dedicated Programme Areas we support.
Today we continue to strengthen these partner connections, and we are even looking to connect these organizations with each other. In November, as part of ChildFund International’s anniversary celebrations, we hosted a workshop with our five partner countries (Kenya, Zambia, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste and Vietnam) to facilitate idea exchange and sharing of best practices.
The last 10 years have brought important change in how we work — and how we think about our work. We have better knowledge of our partner communities. Our closer relationships mean that the team members have more detailed stories and reports to share with our supporters.
This past decade has seen ChildFund New Zealand mature from a mere conduit for funds to a development organisation committed to breaking the cycle of poverty in communities. Our most important decade, however, is arguably the one ahead of us.
Technology is already changing the way sponsors communicate with their sponsored children; our moderated communications must deal with the reality of an interconnected world. The millennial generation expects to see and hear about the impact of their donations almost immediately, not read bullet points in yearly newsletters.
Rather than see these technological and social developments as risks and burdens on our resources, we can view them as opportunities to help remote communities interact with the world in ways that make them seem much less remote, that bring greater empathy and compassion. We can give communities not just a voice but ensure they are part of the global conversation.
And it is exciting and a privilege to be part of an Alliance that is leading this conversation.
By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer
As part of our 75th anniversary blog series, we are talking with staff members about how they’ve seen ChildFund make a difference and what they hope to see us achieve in the future.
Since the 1950s, ChildFund has worked in underprivileged communities in the United States, particularly with African-American, Latino and American Indian children. Today, we support projects in Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas.
Julia Campbell, program director for ChildFund’s U.S. programs, spoke with us about the commonalities and the differences between the approximately 10,000 children we serve in the U.S. and those who live in other countries. American children’s situations are typically not as dire as they are for children in developing countries, where families often confront severe hunger, a complete lack of health care, dirty water and the spread of deadly disease.
“We in the U.S. are more focused on the softer side,” Julia notes. Self-confidence, community engagement, literacy and education are emphasized here. A major issue, she adds, is a “lack of involvement by parents, who sometimes are intimidated [by their children’s schools]. Inequality of education is a huge issue in the U.S., and a large part of it is determined by race.”
In Oklahoma, ChildFund and its local partners work to bring communities together, which can be difficult when distance between homes is great; in South Dakota, where we work with Lakota children and families, our programs encourage cultural engagement and work to prevent youth suicide. In Mississippi many children and youth have family members in prison, and young people in Texas, whose parents often came from Mexico, are trying to navigate a bicultural world, Julia says.
Although the children are under some pressure to serve as English translators for their parents, “their potential is pretty much endless in this country,” she says, particularly when children and youth learn about opportunities here.
For Julia and her colleagues in the U.S., the primary questions are, “How do we define poverty and tackle lack of engagement?”
By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer
This week, we turn the spotlight on ChildFund’s top leaders throughout our history. Visit earlier posts about our first six executive directors: Dr. Calvitt Clarke, Verbon E. Kemp, Dr. Verent Mills, Dr. James MacCracken, Dr. Paul McCleary and Dr. Margaret McCullough.
Dr. John Schultz joined Christian Children’s Fund in 1990 and served as sponsor services director before being elected president. He was an ordained Presbyterian minister, a Peace Corps volunteer in Nigeria and formerly worked for Church World Services.
The beginning of the 21st century was an extremely busy time for CCF. Among our many projects during Dr. Schultz’s era were mass immunizations in India and Sierra Leone, training for home-based care for AIDS patients in Uganda, the establishment of a guide mothers program in Honduras, the addition of Afghanistan to our program countries, and malaria prevention in India, Kenya, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Zambia.
In 2002, CCF joined 10 other countries’ child-focused aid organizations to form what would become ChildFund Alliance, which now has 12 member organizations that assist children and families in 58 countries.
“I am certainly deeply moved by the circumstances that I see children living in,” Dr. Schultz said in a 2002 Style Weekly interview. “Many of the places I go, children not only don’t have toys, they don’t have shoes on their feet. I think sometimes it’s very hard for Americans to even fathom there are places in the world where the majority of the population lives like this.
“If that were all I saw as I traveled around the world for CCF, I might get disheartened. What I see, of course, are the successes as well. I see teenagers who are sitting in front of a computer doing what teenagers do all around the world. I see children sitting in a safe nursery school with caring teachers. It really is as equally invigorating as it is challenging.”
Our current president and CEO, Anne Lynam Goddard, succeeded Dr. Schultz in 2007. At the beginning of our 75th anniversary blog series, she wrote this post, and you can read more of her thoughts on her Tumblr blog.
By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer
This week, we turn the spotlight on ChildFund’s top leaders throughout our history. Visit earlier posts about our first five executive directors: Dr. Calvitt Clarke, Verbon E. Kemp, Dr. Verent Mills, Dr. James MacCracken and Dr. Paul McCleary.
Dr. Margaret McCullough, Christian Children’s Fund’s sixth executive director and the first woman to hold the top job, served as our sponsor services director for seven years in the 1980s before becoming the organization’s deputy executive director during her predecessor Dr. McCleary’s tenure. She began working with CCF in 1974, first sitting on the board of directors. She earned degrees in child development, family social science and family social psychology at Kansas State University and the University of Minnesota.
The end of the 20th century was a time of refining CCF’s policies and procedures, including updating technology in our organization to improve communications, monitoring and evaluating our work, and affirming CCF as a child development agency — a shift from being known solely as a sponsorship organization. During this time, we also began working more with children who’d been through wars and other traumatic experiences, employing psychologists to help children express their feelings through artwork and other means.
Despite the broadening of CCF’s mission, Dr. McCullough still recognized the continuing importance of sponsorship within our organization. She and her husband sponsored five children when she became executive director.
“I think it is so rewarding to work with people when they are still very young and open and ready to learn,” she said in a Fredericksburg (Va.) Free Lance-Star article in 1995. “You can help them develop themselves so they can have exciting and meaningful lives.”
This week, we turn the spotlight on ChildFund’s top leaders throughout our history. Visit earlier posts about our first four executive directors: Dr. Calvitt Clarke, Verbon E. Kemp, Dr. Verent Mills and Dr. James MacCracken.
Dr. Paul F. McCleary, Christian Children’s Fund’s fifth executive director, came from Save the Children, where his predecessor Dr. MacCracken was employed. Dr. McCleary served as a missionary in Bolivia for 12 years while working for the United Methodist Church and the National Council of Churches. He brought a global worldview and approached his leadership at CCF with an eye toward political shifts in the eroding Soviet Union, Germany, Iraq, Poland and South Africa, as well as population growth, debt and changing economies.
Dr. McCleary was the first leader of our organization with considerable hands-on experience in developing countries since the tenure of Dr. Mills, who was overseas director before becoming our third executive director.
“Working among the poorest, we were exposed to the full spectrum of problems that poverty breeds — high infant mortality, annual pregnancies, malnutrition, low productivity, low income, as well as the repetition of the poverty cycle from one generation to the next,” Dr. McCleary said in 1991 of his time in Bolivia, according to Larry E. Tise’s A Book about Children. “So, for me, it’s not at all difficult to know what people must be experiencing in Brazil or India or the Philippines, and to have a strong, empathetic relationship with the staff who are attempting to change things.”
By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer
This week, we turn the spotlight on ChildFund’s top leaders throughout our history. Visit earlier posts about our first three executive directors: Dr. Calvitt Clarke, Verbon E. Kemp and Dr. Verent Mills. Stay tuned for more this week.
Dr. James MacCracken, our fourth executive director, oversaw huge growth in the number of sponsors and children served. In an 18-month period ending in 1983, he led a successful campaign to increase the number of assisted children from 260,000 to 325,000. Also, Christian Children’s Fund’s annual budget doubled during the seven years of his tenure. He was the first head of CCF who came from outside the organization; Dr. MacCracken was the vice president of programs for Save the Children Federation before arriving here.
Dr. MacCracken said upon his retirement in 1988 that he was pleased with the “sense of joy” and the “common vision” at CCF during his years here. “That’s the thing I feel proudest of,” he said. “If we can’t care for each other, how can we care for a child halfway round the world?”
By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer
This week, we turn the spotlight on ChildFund’s top leaders throughout our history. Historical information comes from A Book About Children by Larry E. Tise and ChildFund archives. Please visit earlier posts about our founder and first executive director Dr. Calvitt Clarke, and Dr. Verent Mills, our third executive director.
Verbon Kemp, our second executive director, took over the reins of Christian Children’s Fund following Dr. Clarke’s retirement after 25 years as founder and executive director. Before, Kemp was a member of our board of directors, and he was a close friend of Dr. Clarke. Also, he served as executive secretary of Virginia’s State Chamber of Commerce before stepping down in 1963.
It came as a surprise to many that Kemp made major changes right away at CCF, including hiring staff members with backgrounds in development and child care, making record-keeping and financial accountability high priorities, and also updating technology, including bringing in computers for the first time.
“If anyone was a hero [in the transition], it was Kemp,” said Jerald Huntsinger, CCF’s public relations director at the time. “Kemp made the board an active, participating body with social welfare expertise. And he brought a new version of business management techniques to CCF. He equipped CCF to deal with the realities and complexities of the modern world.”
A few decades ago, ChildFund (then Christian Children’s Fund) organized art exhibits of work by children in our programs throughout the world. The events were called competitions, because only the best pieces were displayed. While doing research for our 75th anniversary celebration, we found black-and-white photos of drawings from the 1981 exhibit. Many drawings are of typical scenes from their home communities. Please enjoy this slideshow!