In the News

ChildFund’s CEO Gives a TEDx Talk on Violence Against Children

By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer

ChildFund’s president and CEO, Anne Lynam Goddard, will speak tomorrow at the TEDxRVA conference in Richmond, Va. You can view her speech as it streams live online Friday afternoon.

Kenyan children

Anne Goddard meets children in Kenya.

The theme of the event is “re__,” an invitation for our community (Richmond and beyond) to actively participate in making the world better. Anne’s speech, “Freedom From Violence,” focuses on “re-action.” That means more than just reacting to events, but acting again and again to achieve our goals — specifically ending violence against children.

Here’s a quote from her talk: “Threats to the most vulnerable and smallest among us — children — come not only from having too little food, but also from having too much violence in their lives.  It is not enough to help children survive, but we must also have a world safe for all children to thrive.”

Anne also will share her story about how violence affected her family and encourage the audience to participate in the “Free From Violence and Exploitation Against Children” campaign supported by ChildFund Alliance.  

Her presentation will begin at about 1:15 p.m. EDT Friday, and you can stream the video here.

Survey Shows Americans Severely Underestimate Number of Child Laborers

By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer

The number of children and youths who work — whether they’re paid or unpaid — is notoriously hard to pin down. Many countries have laws against employing children, but industries still continue to use child laborers despite legal and social consequences.

What number would you guess is accurate? A million? Six million? Ten?

Not even close.

Bolivian shoeshiner

A Bolivian boy shines shoes in Tarija. This photo was entered in a 2012 youth photography contest held by ChildFund Bolivia.

The estimated number of child laborers ages 5 to 14 is 150 million, according to UNICEF. But only 1 percent of 1,022 Americans in a recent survey conducted for ChildFund answered correctly; 73 percent said less than 1 million children are engaged in labor in developing countries.

Other statistics reported in the survey, which was conducted in late June by Ipsos Public Affairs, are more encouraging; a majority of respondents say they’re willing to pay more for clothing produced without the use of child laborers, and 77 percent say they would stop purchasing clothing from labels that are found to use child labor. That’s good.

But it’s important for children all over the world — including those risking their lives in African gold mines, spending hours in the sun harvesting sugarcane in the Philippines, burning their fingers while making glass bangles at home in India or working for no money at all, as hundreds of thousands of Brazilian children do — for Americans to be more aware of the scope of the problem.

girl making bangles

An Indian girl, Sarita, makes bangles.

Almost one in six children ages 5 to 14 in developing countries are engaged in labor; aside from the potential physical hazards, these children are unlikely to complete their education. And thus the generational cycle of poverty continues. ChildFund supports many programs that assist families caught in this vicious circle by providing training for safer, more stable ways to earn income, giving assistance to children and youth to keep them in school longer and working with entire communities to discourage the employment of children.

The missing piece here is broader awareness in the United States and other prosperous countries. Child labor is a worldwide problem that touches everyone in some way, and we need to use this knowledge to engage and educate industries on how to change their practices and stop exploiting children.

The Struggle Continues in Africa

By Tenagne Mekonnen, ChildFund Africa Regional Communications Manager

Jumbe Sebunya, ChildFund’s regional director for east and southern Africa, recently reflected on ChildFund’s commitment to children’s rights and the Day of the African Child, celebrated annually on June 16.

man standing

Jumbe Sebunya

What are ChildFund’s current strategies in Africa?
We currently work in 11 African countries, reaching a total of 8.5 million children and families. ChildFund focuses on engaging children, families and communities in an effort to improve outcomes for children both at the micro level within their immediate communities but also on a macro level, within their countries and regions. Thus, our approach is two-pronged: hands-on at the community level, and also at national and regional levels in terms of policy advocacy efforts on children’s issues.

We have had good success with a number of our program strategies, such as ChildFund’s work on early childhood development (ECD), which focuses on parent-child-community relationships that are central in creating a healthy beginning for a child. Through ECD programs, we are able to ensure that the first experiences of a child begin with an informed ECD caregiver and a supportive community. We have seen that such an environment has a lifelong impact on the children’s development and success in life.

The Day of African Child is one of the main events celebrated in Africa. How is the event helping promote the rights of children in Africa?
The event should remind us all of our duty as citizens of Africa and its friends to promote the rights of the child on this continent. It does indeed commemorate children rising up against [South Africa’s] apartheid government that was bent on denying children their equal rights to education, health, etc. In Africa today, there has been some progress achieved for children in education, gender equity, HIV and AIDS and other areas. However, with children making up a significant portion of our populations (in some countries more than 50 percent), governments, civil society organizations and other key development partners have to keep children’s well-being and rights central to any and all sustainable development efforts on the continent.

girls on playground

Biftu and Chaltu play at an ECD center in Fantale, Ethiopia Photo: Jake Lyell

How are you planning to celebrate the Day of the African Child, and what will that mean to the children you serve?
In Ethiopia, we are joining with the African Union Commission and others to organize a forum that will highlight African achievements and the plight of children in the continent. We are also bringing children from other countries where ChildFund works to share their stories and have their voices heard on issues affecting children in Africa. We are also participating in various events within countries in which we operate.

The theme this year is “Eliminating Harmful and Social Practices Against Children: Our Responsibility.” What is ChildFund doing along these lines?
In almost all the countries where ChildFund operates, children experience some form of physical violence before the age of 8! This is unacceptable, and in a number of countries ChildFund works with children, families, local communities, as well as governments, to address harmful social practices as well as violence and exploitation against children.

What are your expectations as you join other organizations and the African Union to celebrate the Day of the African Child?
I have many expectations for the Day of the African Child, especially to urge all African citizens and governments in renewing our commitments: To significantly reduce the number of children that are subjected to sexual violence and abuse of any form; to reduce the number of children living outside family care; to end harmful social practices against children like early marriage and genital mutilation; to eliminate any form of child labor on the continent; and to support birth registration for all children without discrimination in Africa.

Why Words Matter

Speechwriter Jeff Porro has helped Fortune 250 CEOS and the heads of some of the nation’s most influential nonprofits.

Words That Mean Success book coverChildFund is fortunate to have been one of his clients. One of the toughest types of speeches to write is a commencement speech so when ChildFund’s President and CEO Anne Lynam Goddard was asked to give the commencement speech for Assumption College, her own alma mater, Jeff agreed to write it based on input from her.

In a recent interview Jeff was asked about his favorite speech and he cited that commencement speech. “[Anne] is a terrific woman with a great sense of humor, and she was very willing to share wonderful stories,” Jeff recalled. “I’m very proud of that speech, but Anne made my job pretty easy.”

The commencement address can be viewed online.

If you want to know more about speechwriting, check out Jeff’s new book, Words That Mean Success.

Children at Core of Post-2015 Efforts to Alleviate Poverty

By Erin Olsen, ChildFund Staff Writer

Last week, the United Nations released the Post-2015 Development Agenda, outlining the strategy for eliminating extreme poverty by 2030. The agenda is a continuation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), set to expire in 2015, and includes recommendations from thousands of civil society organizations, businesses, governments and everyday people from more than 120 countries. The result is what the report calls a “bold yet practical vision” for the future of development.

three children on playground

Children in Kapuk, West Jakarta.

It was exciting to see children at the core of the Post-2015 Agenda. Among the 12 goals outlined, eight specifically target children’s issues. At the forefront: violence against children, gender discrimination, job training and education for youths and prevention of deaths among children under 5 and mothers during childbirth.

Since the declaration of the MDGs in 2000, there have been many successes, particularly for children. According to UNICEF, more children – especially girls – are now attending primary school, maternal and child deaths have declined steadily. Malnutrition in children under age 5 is lower than ever. Globally, extreme poverty has been reduced by half.

Despite the successes, there have been some shortcomings, in part because the eight defined goals were not well integrated. Effective sustainable development requires a holistic approach. For example, combating malaria doesn’t just require supplying those at risk with pesticide-treated nets and medicines; it also requires tackling the root causes of poverty, like poor infrastructure in communities and inequality.

Addressing that lack of integration is a main focus of the Post-2015 Agenda. The agenda is driven by five “transformative shifts” that will help to meet the 12 goals to end poverty. Economic growth, universality, peace, global partnering and sustainability are all essential to meeting the goals by 2030. Each goal focuses on a particular sector such as gender, water and sanitation, health, food security, education and economics. These goals integrate and overlap, and ideally the success of one goal will lead to the success of another. It will require a pretty drastic global paradigm shift, but the payoff could be huge.

ChildFund’s programs are already ahead of the curve on many of these issues, and sustainability is at the heart of ChildFund’s mission. Our integrated, sustainable approach tackles root causes of poverty and focuses on holistic programs. For example, our Early Childhood Development programs incorporate maternal and child health, early education and nutrition, as well as addressing parenting techniques and preventing violence in the home.

You can play a part in eradicating poverty and helping children in need by Sponsoring a Child, and supporting ChildFund’s efforts to provide innovated, integrated programs to help children throughout the world.

Five Easy Pieces (of Advice) for New Grads

By Jason Schwartzman, Director of ChildFund’s Program Assessment and Learning Unit

puzzle pieceAs college seniors begin thinking of the job market, we offer five pieces of advice for those interested in not-for-profit work.

1. Look for supervisors you can learn from. You’ll need to respect them, and they’ll need to see supervising you as something worth investing time in.

2. Make sure the organization you work for reflects your values and beliefs; otherwise, your stomach will turn at work too much, your eyes will roll, your colleagues will pick up on it and you won’t get what you need from the experience.

3. Go for basic work and technical skills and get them down. What are basic work skills? Caring about your work and working as part of a team to make that team more productive. What are basic technical skills? Writing – become excellent at written communication of all types, including report writing. Get experience writing or providing necessary inputs to the grants acquisition and management process. A bit of financial budgeting and reporting is also great to have.

4. Be organized and proactive. Seek out regular supervision to get better at basic skills. Early in your career, this is allowed. At some later point, your basic skills are assumed to be in place, and then you are trying to cover up weaknesses.

5. Learn how to nag without alienating, how to not be shy and reluctant, how not to be obnoxious and how to listen and ask questions. Even stupid ones. You have a small window in which to ask what may seem like a stupid question to you, but for the rest of us, it isn’t – we’re covering up and can’t ask it.

Humanitarian Sector Faces Extensive Challenges

By Cynthia Price, ChildFund Director of Communications

The next two to three decades will be challenging for those working in the humanitarian sector, and the players aren’t entirely prepared for what is to come.

António Guterres, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, shared his perspective yesterday during the opening session of the InterAction Forum in Arlington, Va.

two men on panel discussion

He noted that the international community has lost part of its ability to prevent conflict, and, as a result, “unpredictability has become the name of the game.”

Challenges include population growth, climate change and food and water scarcity. “These are all influencing each other,” Guterres said.

Because there is not consensus on these mega trends, Guterres said, “In the absence of collective answers to these problems, they will continue to get worse.”

He also is concerned because financial resources are shrinking. “Humanitarian aid budgets are not growing proportionately with humanitarian needs,” he said. “We will be called to do more and more with less and less.”

Another concern is the difficulty in making people understand at all levels the need to preserve humanitarian principles.

two men on discussion panel

(l to r) António Guterres, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, and Sam Worthington, president & CEO, InterAction in Washington, D.C.

To effectively respond, Guterres said, non-government organizations (NGOs) must be prepared to do so with limited resources and recognizing that humanitarian principles will not always be fully followed.

Guterres painted a stark picture and said for humanitarian efforts and the world to move forward, “it will not be enough to see people dying, it will not be enough to see people fleeing….” Only when the security of people is at risk will they be “motivated to act.”

However, he said, there has been progress in the ability of NGOs to respond to crises. Partnership and coordination has improved. “The most effective delivery organizations are NGOs,” Guterres told the sold-out crowd. “I am not really worried about your capacity to deliver and to be effective.”

NGOs and political systems must adapt to the new environments, including using all the tools that technology has to offer. He also stressed the need to do more advocacy, not only for fundraising, but also to promote values, such as protection.

“We are not doing enough to invest in the civil societies of the countries where we operate,” Guterres said. “We need to invest much more in strong, independent NGOs. We need to give them space and help them build themselves, even if it means a reduction in our own business.”

Audio Adrenaline Joins ChildFund LIVE! Team

By Kate Andrews

men in a band


Audio Adrenaline

ChildFund is getting a shot of adrenaline — Audio Adrenaline, that is. The upbeat Christian rock band, which has two Grammys and multiple Dove awards under its belt, is ChildFund’s newest LIVE! partner.

The band is coming off a seven-year hiatus with a new lead singer and starts its latest tour March 1 in Morganton, N.C. The tour is in support of the band’s new album, Kings & Queens, which features former dc Talk member Kevin Max on lead vocals.

logo for LIVE!At each Audio Adrenaline concert, ChildFund will have booths staffed with volunteers. That’s where you come in; we’d like your help to answer questions about how child sponsorship works and help people sign up to begin their sponsorships. A ChildFund representative will be on hand to answer questions and give direction to volunteers. Check the tour schedule to see if Audio Adrenaline is playing near you.

The group has a history of charitable work, and we’re pleased that they are joining the ChildFund LIVE! team, which includes Thompson Square, Girls of Grace, Mary Mary, Jake Shimabukuro and others.

Come rock out — and along the way, help children in need.

Our Common Humanity

By Virginia Sowers, Editorial Manager

I often say the best part of my job at ChildFund is collaborating with colleagues around the world, as we seek to better serve children who live in extreme poverty. So it was a real treat to spend last week with ChildFund’s regional communications managers from Africa, Asia and the Americas, gathered with the communications team here in Richmond, Va., to share ideas and up our game for the coming year.

We asked each other lots of questions: What worked? What didn’t work? Why? How can we better integrate? What are the stories we most want to tell about children who need help? How do we assist each other as colleagues? What’s next, as we near our organization’s 75th anniversary?

group shot of communication staff

ChildFund Communications team members (l to r): Jennifer Atkins, Patrica Toquica (Americas region), Tenagne Mekonnen (Africa region); Kate Andrews, Dale Catlett, Tasha Chambers, Julien Anseau (Asia region); Cynthia Price, Virginia Sowers, Christine Ennulat, and Loren Pritchett.

Yes, five days of questioning, brainstorming, deliberating and priority setting is enough to make your head spin by Friday afternoon. But we parted with a deep commitment to moving forward as a team.

program cover from Richmond ForumAnd it was in that musing mindset that I moved into Friday night, attending the Richmond Forum’s speaker series, featuring former president Bill Clinton, now head of the Clinton Foundation. I’d been looking forward to hearing him speak for months, but I had no inkling his message would help me with some dot-connecting.

“We need more community forums like this, citizens coming together to have a conversation,” Clinton said. “We’d make better decisions as a people if we had more nights like this.”

Allowing that the world we live in is increasingly complex, technologically sophisticated and highly interdependent, he asserted that we all “need a framework for thinking about the modern world,” which has a global job shortage, economic inequality, a shifting climate and depleting local resources.

And then he started throwing out (oh, no!) questions for each of us to ponder: What would I like the 21st century to look like? What are the obstacles to shared peace and prosperity? What do you do? Who’s supposed to do it?

The challenges are high, Clinton said, especially for the poor. “Half the world is living on less than $2 a day,” he noted. “Kids under 5 are dying of malaria, dysentery and tuberculosis – diseases of the poor… almost 100 million kids don’t go to school. We’re killing off human potential left and right.”

It’s time to pursue a different strategy, with values that rest on human dignity, Clinton said. “That strategy looks different in poor places than in rich places; and in some countries like India and Brazil, you do both.” Poor places like Haiti, where the Clinton Foundation is at work, need systems, he noted. “Haiti needs to build a system that rewards good behavior with positive results,” referencing the need to invest in entrepreneurial businesses that lead to sustainable job creation.

“At some point when you stop investing in the future, you pay a terrible price,” he said.

Across the world and at home in the U.S., Clinton called for a change in outlook, a change he believes is coming. “We have to revitalize the way we do things and engage in the prospect of renewal,” he said.

But who’s supposed to do it? “My answer is everybody,” Clinton asserted. “The nongovernmental organization (NGO) is a gift America makes to the world.” Yet, he pointed out that it’s not just the large and well-known NGOs that are getting things done at home and abroad.

“The NGO movement is sweeping the world,” he said, adding that the millennial generation, which has been raised to be service-oriented, is helping fuel this movement. And it’s a movement open to all – community groups, citizens groups, churches and faith-based organizations. “If you contribute to the United Way in Richmond, you’re part of an NGO,” he said. “A lot of people doing a little together can have a huge impact…. When we work together, it works.”

Americans Expect Developing Nations to Take More Responsibility for Aid to Children

By Cynthia Price, Director of Communications

infographic on foreign aid

Click to view the full infographic.

Yesterday, ChildFund released the results of a survey conducted for us by Ipsos Public Affairs. We were interested in what Americans might say when asked whether the recent payroll tax increase would impact their giving levels.

Because we are an international child development agency, we also wanted to know about Americans’ views on providing aid to developing nations. We found that most do not think that the responsibility lies with individual Americans or the U.S. government.

  • 42 percent say that the governments of nations where children are being affected are most responsible for assisting their poor children.
  • 23 percent say nonprofits or advocacy groups are responsible.
  • 22 percent say individuals in nations where children are being affected are responsible.
  • 7 percent say it’s individual Americans’ responsibility.
  • 5 percent say the U.S. government should provide the aid.

One thing I’ve learned during my tenure with ChildFund is that it really does take a village, and sometimes another nation, to combat poverty. Developing nations around the world have made progress in breaking out of patterns of poverty, but the fact is they cannot do it alone and must continue to rely on other nations. ChildFund works to educate those in a position to help.

The Ipsos survey also asked Americans to estimate the amount of U.S. support to foreign countries, which is around 1 percent of the annual federal budget. Americans drastically overestimate the amount: 55 percent think more than 10 percent of the federal budget is allocated to foreign aid. On the other hand, 39 percent think 10 percent or less of the budget is devoted to foreign aid.

Because children living in poverty need help no matter where they are, ChildFund serves children both abroad and at home in the U.S., in some of the poorest counties in Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas. Children need and deserve good nutrition, education and protection. When children flourish, the world becomes a better place for all of us.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 788 other subscribers

ChildFund
Follow me on Twitter