Programs

Afghanistan: Lights for Learning On the Move

Kuchi girls in Afghanistan

Only 2 percent of girls and women in the nomadic Kuchi tribe are literate.

By ChildFund Staff

ChildFund and Nokero International, Ltd. have partnered to expand educational opportunity to 1,200 girls and 800 boys from a nomadic tribe in northern Afghanistan.

Our first effort with Nokero, in 2012, was to provide safe, inexpensive solar-powered lights to schoolchildren in Liberia. This time, we’re taking advantage of another quality of Nokero’s lights: their portability.

Kuchi tribe

Providing portable lights will help Kuchi children receive an education.

In northern Afghanistan, the nomadic Kuchi people move with the seasons, herding animals and bartering along the way. As one of Afghanistan’s most marginalized ethnic groups, they face extreme poverty and instability.

Since they settle only temporarily in rural, isolated regions, the Kuchis go months at a time without basic services like electricity and education. The literacy rate among the Kuchi men is less than 7 percent, and among women, it’s less than 2. Less than 2 percent of Kuchi girls are able to enroll in school.

This project supports a larger grant initiative to expand educational opportunities for 2,000 Kuchi children. It has two components:

625 Nokero solar-powered lamps and chargers that students can use to study, even when they’re in remote locations without electricity

peer-led study clubs that will be monitored by trained mentors and teachers so that students can continue their studies while on the move

Lights and study groups will empower children — especially girls — to sustain their learning without abandoning their nomadic way of life.

But to make this happen, we need your help to raise $8,864 by March 1 for our Fund a Project, Solar Lights and Study Clubs for Kuchi Children.

Join hands with other like-minded people and bring this project to life. And don’t forget to share the link with your family and friends.

ChildFund Listens to What Local Partners Say

By Cynthia Price, Director of Communications

ChildFund has made listening to children a hallmark of its work. But what about the local partner organizations that implement ChildFund’s programs for children?

partnership surveyLocal partners’ unique perspectives about their communities are key to ChildFund’s program design for children and families. To strengthen its relationships with these partners, ChildFund participated in a survey to identify its assets and weaknesses, with a view toward improving performance.

Along with ChildFund, 62 other international nonprofits participated in the survey, which was administered by Keystone Accountability and released as the Development Partnerships Survey 2013.

Keystone contacts local partners directly, asking them to anonymously respond to a standard questionnaire. In the survey, partners are asked to give their perceptions on various aspects of their relationships with the organizations. ChildFund received a copy of its own survey results, along with benchmarks for the other organizations that participated.

“We are releasing our private report publicly because we want our partners to know we are listening to them and that we take the findings seriously,” says Sarah Bouchie, vice president of Program Development. “We will follow up with our partners to learn more.”

ChildFund scored high for its financial support and capacity building. The organization was also highly rated for promoting participatory approaches to child development and for making an important contribution within its sector.

ChildFund scored high for its financial support and capacity building.

The survey highlighted relationships and communication as an area to improve. “We have been changing rapidly as an organization, so we can meet the needs of more children and families,” Bouchie says. “The results show that we need to pay close attention to how we communicate these changes. We want to make sure that we are attuned to local partners’ questions and concerns.”

ChildFund plans to develop joint strategies and promote its partners’ work more.  It also will repeat the survey to monitor its progress in building these important relationships.

Seeds for Healthy Development in Ecuador

Reporting by Veronica Travez, ChildFund Ecuador

In Ecuador, children under 5 make up 10 percent of the total population, and 23 percent of them suffer from chronic malnutrition.

Samira's garden

Two-year-old Samira in her garden.

But in a small community north of Pichincha, we find Samira, a cheerful and lively 2-year-old girl who lives with her mother, Diana, and her grandparents, Maria and Miguel.

Maria and Diana participate in ChildFund’s early childhood development programs in their community. Diana has participated since she was pregnant, and when her baby girl was born, she already knew Samira needed the right kind of food. Maria tells us that Samira is the family’s “guinea pig” because they put into practice everything they have learned in raising her.

“My daughter does not get sick as other children do,” says Diana. “When the other children have had strong flu, she didn’t get it. She is a very healthy girl. She likes to eat soup. She really likes beans and corn, and she eats all kinds of fruits.”

Samira has access to this healthy diet thanks to another ChildFund-supported effort: Maria’s family garden. In her 30-square-meter plot, Maria cultivates a variety of fruits and vegetables. These form the basis of the family’s diet.

We hope to provide this opportunity to 70 more families in Pichincha through our Ecuador gardens Fund a Project. These endeavors assist communities with specific needs like treated mosquito nets or winterization kits.

Ecuador garden

Samira’s grandmother, Maria, grows vegetables for her family in a 30-foot plot.

With your help, the garden project will provide these families with a sustainable source of nutrition, helping to address health challenges common to this region. Each family will receive fruit and vegetable seedlings with supplies and training for growing their own gardens. Using recyclable materials and avoiding pesticides, families will create their gardens in a sustainable, safe way.

As a result, children will have better access to vitamin-rich produce, which will protect them from malnutrition and illness. And the sale of surplus fruits and vegetables will boost each family’s income by as much as $40 per month. We need about $5,000 to reach our goal to start these families on a healthier path. Please consider making a donation.

You Helped Make Dreams Come True

India Dream Bikes

Thank you for helping us reach our goal in providing 1,000 Dream Bikes to girls in India and Sri Lanka. Here, two girls take a ride in Khireshwer, India. Photo by Jake Lyell.

By Sara Woznicki, ChildFund Digital Marketing Specialist

As you may have noticed during the past few months, we have encouraged ChildFund supporters to purchase bikes as part of our Dream Bikes program. Girls in Sri Lanka and India face long walks to school, as well as attendant danger and exhaustion. Bicycles make a real difference.

And now, 1,000 girls will have their wheels, thanks to the generosity of our donors. We cannot thank you enough. We could not be prouder of everyone that contributed to this campaign, which began in September. Together, we raised enough money to provide 1,000 girls with bikes in less than 140 days. That’s about seven bikes a day!

Maybe you clicked onto our website and saw the video of Hirabai on her bicycle. Or you were scanning through Facebook and saw our posts about Dream Bikes on Giving Tuesday in December. However you found out about our Dream Bike campaign, we are so happy that you did — and that you took action to help a girl stay in school.

Thank you to everyone who helped us to reach our goal in record time, but more importantly, thank you for changing 1,000 girls’ lives and giving them the opportunity to finish their education, which they might have had to otherwise forego.

If you missed our Dream Bikes campaign, don’t worry. You can still contribute $100 and help change a life. Because you know what’s better than giving 1,000 bicycles? Giving 2,000!

Before the Year Ends, Consider Giving

Senegalese girls

5-year-old Racky and Fafa in Senegal. Photo by Christine Ennulat.

By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer

This is the time of year when we often take stock of our past, present and future, and it’s a great opportunity to consider making a donation to help a child: a gift that truly has legs. Whether you begin sponsoring a child today or purchase a gift that will help a family or community, your gift will mean hope to a child in need.

Also, by giving before the end of the year, you can make a deduction on your tax forms for 2013. We encourage you to take a look at our planned giving options, which help make a difference to communities for years, allowing children to become independent, self-sustaining adults who have more opportunities than before. Thank you for your past, present and future generosity, and we wish you a happy and meaningful 2014!

Indian boys

Indian boys walk down a village road in Maharashtra. Photo by Jake Lyell.

Expressing Thanks for ChildFund’s Local Partner Organizations

ChildFund could not do its work without the assistance of hundreds of local partner organizations in the communities we serve globally. Our partners work with us closely to identify local needs and implement programs to aid children, families and communities.

75th ChildFund logoWe are grateful for their partnership every day and their help in all emergency situations that arise — such as in communities afflicted by drought to those overwhelmed by floodwaters. Two local partners from Mississippi, one of the states where ChildFund works with children and families, recently sent us letters of congratulations on our 75th anniversary. We cannot thank them enough for their cooperation over the years as well.

A Message From Operation Shoestring, Jackson, Miss. 

Happy 75th Birthday, ChildFund!

Not often in life are we able to feel that the work we have been assigned to do changes the world. It has been a pleasure to be affiliated with ChildFund, an organization that focuses on the needs and well-being of children. Even in the 21st century, the world continues to need an organization that focuses on assuring that the children it serves are not deprived of the opportunity to thrive holistically, physically and psychologically; and that helps them have what they need for the development of their full potential.

We are honored to be a part of ChildFund’s mission, which offers our poorest children guidance, support and a light to success. Can you imagine that a process that started 75 years ago is still relevant today and is still affiliating with like entities to improve the world for generations yet to come?

Operation Shoestring appreciates the opportunity to share in this work with ChildFund, since it affirms our work of teaching children and inspiring families so that we all rise together.

Faithfully,
Robert Langford
Executive Director 

A Message From We Care Community Services, Vicksburg, Miss.

When I think of ChildFund (formerly Christian Children’s Fund), what I first jokingly think of is acronyms and other words … AIMES, SSIMS, FIT, PDF, NPs, photo guide, SITE, home visitors’ log, programs vs. services, enrollment reports, family cards, TUFF, ASPA and strategic directions, just to name a few. 

But I also soberly look back and think about my new project affiliation form from the early ’90s (which I still have a copy of) and think about why we have this partnership and how far we have come.

This partnership aligns with We Care’s vision, values and beliefs. Our initial project description read “OUR children, the children of this community are OUR future. Your support through sponsorship activities is an investment in this community’s future.” This resonates as a truth today. Through our partnership with ChildFund, we as an affiliate have strived to offer not only quality services, but also meaningful services across this community. 

We would like to take this opportunity to say “Thank You” to ChildFund as you celebrate your 75th anniversary. As you commemorate this milestone in history, remember that you have not only been a voice for children but also for many a source of survival. Without your presence and compassion, many more children still would be trapped by the hardships poverty imposes. It is because of partnerships such as ChildFund that we are successful. 

With your continued support, we will continue to work on ways to make the lives of OUR children easier and healthier, without deprivation or isolation, through empowerment strategies. We know that we can only be successful if the communities that we serve, which you help to support, are thriving, healthy and successful. 

With homage and congratulations,

Rose Bingham

Director

children in Mississippi

Two children from our Mississippi programs.

On World Toilet Day: Promoting Good Hygiene in Bolivia

By Hyewon Lee, ChildFund Korea Field Officer in Bolivia

Today is World Toilet Day, which aims to create awareness of the problems stemming from poor sanitation in countries worldwide. One in three people — 2.5 billion — do not have a clean, private toilet, including those in many countries where ChildFund works. Today’s post spotlights progress in a Bolivian community.

old latrine

This was a school’s old latrine in Sapahaqui, Bolivia.

Children in the municipality of Sapahaqui, Bolivia, once used 1-meter-deep holes as their toilets at school. Often, they preferred to go outside instead of visiting the dirty, smelly restrooms. Other schools didn’t even have indoor facilities.

Families also didn’t always wash their hands after going to the bathroom, mainly because water is very scarce and valuable; most people had no water sources other than small streams and springs. Some communities were lucky to be near water, but other families had to go a long way to fetch it. When they did get water, it was just enough for washing clothes, cooking and watering the fruit trees, which are their main income source. Many families knew that basic sanitation habits were important to maintaining good health, but it was a luxury most just couldn’t afford.

SODIS treatment

Today, children have access to clean water through the SODIS purification technique.

As a result of the lack of basic sanitation infrastructure and hygiene habits, the infant mortality rate was 68 deaths per 1,000 infants in 2010 in the municipality of Sapahaqui, according to Bolivia’s national statistics office. Diarrhea and other diseases related to poor hygiene were causes of many childhood deaths.

However, we’re seeing changes in Sapahaqui nowadays.

“This is how you wash your hands,” exclaims 10-year-old Eliana as she proudly demonstrates cleaning from palms to fingers to nails. (Watch the video below for an example of how children have learned proper hand-washing techniques.) ChildFund Bolivia staff members now oversee hand-washing centers in almost every school in Sapahaqui, teaching children about good hygiene habits and providing sanitation kits.

new latrine

Today, this school has a new latrine that offers more privacy and is cleaner.

Schoolchildren now wash their hands at least once a day at school, with clean water provided through the SODIS method, which purifies water by hanging plastic bottles in the sun for several hours. Since it is so much easier to get access to clean water, children and families in Sapahaqui are now able to use water to practice basic sanitation habits, even in the harsh dry seasons when it barely rains and the streams dry out.

With the help and participation of community members and the local government, we also have built or improved the school bathrooms. A teacher from the community Saca Saca says, “Children are so happy about the new bathrooms that they just don’t want to come out from there. I can already notice that hand-washing corners and new bathrooms are affecting children’s health, because less and less of them catch cold and have fleas.” 

ChildFund Bolivia will continue this water and basic sanitation project here until 2015. Our goal is that fewer children will suffer from diseases that can be easily prevented by practicing basic sanitation habits, and that families will have a better, cleaner and safer living environment in Sapahaqui.

 

In Uganda, the AfriChild Center Takes on Child Violence

By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer

ChildFund International is participating in Blog Action Day, which encourages a worldwide conversation on an important topic. This year’s focus is human rights.

For ChildFund, human rights often mean children’s rights: the freedom to grow up with basic resources like food, water and health care, as well as education and peaceful homes. In the 30 countries where we work, child protection is a significant part of our mission, including exposing children to knowledge that helps them stand up for their rights.

Ugandan children

The AfriChild Center’s first project is to poll Ugandans about violence against children, a serious problem nationwide.

In Uganda, ChildFund has taken on a major role in the new Center of Excellence for the African Child, or as it’s more commonly known, the AfriChild Center. The purpose of this institution is to help improve practices and inform policy through a systematic process of scientific research, analysis and knowledge development. The center was started in May in Kampala through a partnership of Uganda’s Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Makerere University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, UNICEF Uganda, TRP Uganda, Columbia University and ChildFund Uganda.

The center has eight full-time employees (from Kenya, Uganda, the United Kingdom and the United States) overseeing mentorship, research, business development and other areas, and it is currently focused on Uganda’s child protection needs. Its first major project is a national survey about violence against children, funded by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

The questions, which are being finalized this month, are about “all kinds of violence: physical, sexual and emotional, in all settings,” says David Mugawe, the center’s executive director. He expects the survey to be completed in 15 to 18 months, after the questionnaire is finished and poll takers are trained. In each region of Uganda, 1,800 men and 1,800 women will participate, and Uganda’s National Bureau of Statistics will use this data in reports that will help determine national policies for children.

This survey is expected to be an important tool for advocacy of children, Mugawe notes. “If we want to engage with the government, we need to have our facts right.”

AfriChild’s future aim is to influence East African public policy through current and accurate research, which has been a shortcoming in the region. “AfriChild Center is for Uganda [now],” Mugawe says, “but the intent will be for it to have a regional and ultimately global outreach.”

Its researchers, assisted by doctoral students in child development who will be mentored, will also examine ways to improve family livelihoods, assist children with disabilities, prevent child trafficking and strengthen inter-country adoption policies, Mugawe says. “By and large, we’re looking at the family framework,” which has changed in recent decades from mostly extended families to largely female-led or child-led households because of the effect of AIDS and political conflict.

Girls ages 10 to 18 are at particular risk of exploitation and violence, he adds, so this segment of the population will receive special attention. But younger children, too, will be part of AfriChild Center’s work. “We recognize that we need to prepare children for adulthood.”

The AfriChild Center may one day become a powerful influence for all of Africa, bridging gaps between academia, the private sector, aid organizations and policymakers, particularly as Uganda vies for the presidency of the United Nations General Assembly this year. Notes Mugawe, “AfriChild is aiming to be a center for information on children of the whole continent.”

 

 

 

 

Take a Moment to Reflect on International Day for Disaster Reduction

Today, as we mark International Day for Disaster Reduction, ChildFund is renewing its commitment to helping children, especially those with disabilities, prepare for and respond to natural disasters.

In communities already stressed by poverty, a typhoon, an earthquake or flooding from heavy rains can quickly break down family and community structures, leaving children at high risk of injury, disease and exploitation.

children practice rescue procedures

Community-based disaster risk reduction training in Indonesia involves children and youth.

Protecting vulnerable populations including children and persons with disabilities is a primary component of ChildFund’s disaster risk reduction program, or DRR. The DRR process helps communities identify internal and external hazards with potential impact on children and families who live there. We drill down further to identify what makes those communities vulnerable to the hazards. Our trained staff then guide community members — adults and children — through the process of developing their capacity to overcome those vulnerabilities.

The effects of natural disasters are far-reaching. In a 47-country survey of more than 6,000 children, ages 10 to 12, last year, ChildFund found that nearly one in three had experienced catastrophes such as drought, flood or fires.

The U.N. International Day for Disaster Reduction is a global observance that seeks to raise awareness about the importance of helping people and communities become better equipped to withstand natural disasters. This year’s theme, “Living with Disability and Disasters,” highlights how people with disabilities – especially those living in extreme poverty – are among the most excluded in society and face acute vulnerability during disasters.

“Inclusive disaster risk management is about working together at all levels to minimize the vulnerability of those who will be most impacted by a disaster, and that includes people with disabilities,” says Steve Stirling, executive vice president of ChildFund. “I was a sponsored child with a disability myself, but I did have access to health care and education and was safe,” he says. “We want to ensure the same for all the children we serve.”

Keeping Children Safe in Every Season

By Rukhsana Ayyub, ChildFund U.S. Program National Director

I remember the cool morning breeze as I stepped outside on that late August day. It reminded me that fall was around the corner. After the 100-degree days we’d had in Memphis during the summer, it was a welcome relief. I was looking forward to the change of season.

canada geese

Photo courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Leaves on the trees were showing early signs of changing colors. Stores were advertising back-to-school sales; those who could afford it were packing the local Wal-Mart, getting ready for the start of another school year. I was pleased that many of our U.S. program’s local partner organizations across Oklahoma, Mississippi and South Dakota were holding back-to-school events and providing backpacks and school supplies for enrolled children whose families could not afford to purchase these necessities.

On that beautiful day, I called my area office in South Dakota, just a routine Monday morning check-in. Billie’s voice was quiet, not her usual excited tone. “What is it?” I asked. A 10-year-old tried to commit suicide in the Pine Ridge reservation over the weekend, she said. Although this child was not enrolled in a ChildFund program, it was a grim reminder that suicide season was approaching, Billie added.

Suicide season. Whoever came up with such a horrific, unnatural name, I wonder. But then I recalled the even more unnatural fact that it’s the large number of teens and children taking their lives that give Native American communities the highest suicide rates in the country. America is known the world over as the land of hope and opportunity. However, on the reservations, we have children who are not excited for the start of a new school year, Christmas or another birthday. They are choosing instead to end their lives.

Community consultations conducted by ChildFund on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation revealed high incidences of alcohol and other substance abuse, depression and feelings of hopelessness in households, along with a disconnection from cultural values and beliefs.

To counter these negative factors, ChildFund supports programs that promote children’s social skills and emotional health. We also encourage families and other community members to protect and nurture their children by preserving traditional Lakota values. After all, this is a culture that considers children sacred and gives them beautiful names like Little Big Thunder, Little Arrow and Blue Robin, connecting them to nature.

Our programs in Lakota communities include information on suicide prevention and support resources for both parents and children. However, each new suicide or attempt is a reminder of the enormity of the problem and the work that still lies ahead.

ChildFund seeks to empower children and bring families closer together. On that August day – and every day – I voice my wish for every Lakota mother: Hold on tight to your child. To the children and youth, I say: Give life a chance; embrace the new school year waiting for you, Thanksgiving, the first snow of the winter.

And to my colleagues hurt by witnessing this trauma, and the responsibility it carries: Don’t give up hope. Seasons change, and even this dreaded season will pass. Our work for these children continues.

Learn more about ChildFund’s U.S. program and how to sponsor a child.

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