Our final stop on the 31-countries-in-31-days tour is Ecuador, where children have been given an outlet to express themselves while making a difference in the community. It’s been a whirlwind trip around the globe in October. Thanks for joining us.
By Virginia Sowers
The voices of children and youth are telling vivid stories of Ecuador’s Cotopaxi Province in a new pilot web site initiative now in development by ChildFund International and its offices in the Americas Region and Ecuador.
“The idea for this project is to explore creative and innovative ways to share information with sponsors and engage them in our work,” explains Mike Raikovitz, director of Sponsorship at ChildFund. “Our goal was to better share what we’re doing in the field.”
The concept for the web site originated at a ChildFund Alliance meeting last year to facilitate a strategic goal of cohesively sharing and accessing information in each area where ChildFund works. Alliance members envisioned that the web site would spotlight children, featuring video and content they developed.
“When we met with the Ecuador office last year, we set up the challenge of building a web site that contained descriptive information about ChildFund and ChildFund Alliance programs, yet developed in a way that engages children and youth,” says Raikovitz. “What’s interesting about this initiative is that it’s real information about the work ChildFund is doing in communities. It will allow sponsors to see how their money is being used, and better understand our programming and priorities that help children thrive in the Cotopaxi area.”
ChildFund Ecuador, which was already working with youth to do community reporting and radio spots, accepted the challenge. “It was a natural extension to add this new component,” says Raikovitz.
Through the web site, children are using their training in multimedia technology to capture stories about their community and integrate video, photographs and music. ChildFund is training community mobilizers to help the children develop web content.
Given this outlet to share their voices and their perspectives, youth in the Cotopaxi area are bubbling with ideas and energy. They’ve already produced a number of videos, including the story of a long-dreamed-about reservoir for the community, and how fresh water is improving sanitation for families and aiding the environment. They’re also documenting the success stories of individuals aided by ChildFund Ecuador.
Once the web site is up and running, it will likely be a model for other regions and countries to consider. In Ecuador, the expectation is that children and youth will maintain the web site, keeping it continually refreshed with new information, program updates and child and youth contributions.
There’s no shortage of stories to tell
For more information on Ecuador, click here.
More on Ecuador
Population: 13.7 million
ChildFund beneficiaries: More than 264,000 children and families
Did You Know?: The province contains the Cotopaxi volcano, an intermittently active volcano, with a summit height of 19,388 feet.
By Bill Cavender
Assistant Director, Interactive Communications
While in Thailand for a workshop at our regional office in Bangkok, I visited several program areas run by our ChildFund Alliance partner, CCF Foundation in Thailand.
ChildFund Alliance is a group of 12 global, developmental child-sponsorship organizations that implement lasting and meaningful changes in the lives of impoverished children and families worldwide. ChildFund Alliance assures the highest standards in program work, governance, fundraising and financial management.
Accompanying me on the visit were Thawee Suphophark from CCF Foundation in Thailand and Tutiya Buabuttra from our Asia regional office. We travelled to Sa Kaeo Province, located in the east of Thailand along the border with Cambodia. This area is known for some spectacular scenery and natural beauty (plus the annual Cantaloupe Day held every April!). Yet, it is also a region that suffers from high unemployment and poverty rates.
The visit was a great opportunity to see firsthand how collaboration allows Alliance members to share methods, expertise and fundraising resources to benefit more children around the world.
My visit happened to coincide with a major national holiday in Thailand, the birthday of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit. Children around the country were performing in her honor, and I watched a traditional dance performance at one of the schools. The preservation of traditional arts, dance and handicrafts is an important part of the education in these schools.
Also of note is the patronage of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, the second daughter of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit. Her support for CCF Foundation in Thailand is certainly part of a special relationship. The Princess is an accomplished musician. She also is often referred to as the “Princess of Information Technology,” due to her strong interest and efforts to apply science and technology to enhance the development of the country.
During my tour of the facilities, I found engaged teachers and students, refurbished classrooms with new supplies and safe, comfortable surroundings. The laughs and smiles of the children combined with their focus and attention to learning made a positive impression.
Continuing to build this relationship with Thailand through the ChildFund Alliance will ensure more programs to help children grow and thrive.
For more information on Thailand, click here.
More on Thailand
Population: 65 million
ChildFund beneficiaries: More than 686,000 children and families
Did You Know?: Thailand’s southern peninsula, between the Andaman Sea and the South China Sea, offers safari expeditions on foot, by elephant and in canoes.
Next in our “31 in 31” series: A field report from Guatemala
By Stephanie Brummell
Web Content Specialist
With the support of ChildFund Alliance member ChildFund Australia, children and youth in Vietnam are working collectively to shape their futures. Today, we visit a youth-led club in Vietnam that’s changing the way children look at life.
As a club leader, 17-year-old Duc’s mission is clear. The boys and girls of the children’s club in the province of Bac Kan need to understand the dangers of swimming in their local streams.“I like jumping into the stream from the bridge,” one young boy told Duc. “I’m not afraid; living or dying is a fate.”
Other children told Duc that even though they couldn’t swim well, or at all, they would still go to the stream, “because going with the group is so much fun.”
These worrisome reports gave Duc the opportunity to use skills he learned in leadership courses supported by ChildFund International to help youth educate younger children in their community to stay safe while still having fun. He also teaches them swim safety. As a ChildFund program participant, Duc learned about child-injury prevention, traffic laws and other topics related to child rights, as well as how to facilitate workshops.
The children’s clubs are initiated by the Child Protection Program of ChildFund Vietnam in support of enhancing a safe and healthy environment for children in less fortunate communities so that they may develop to their full potential.
“I like my club because I can play sports here,” says 12-year-old Luan. “I also like the lessons. I found the lesson about burn … very useful. Now I know more about burns.”
More on Vietnam
Population: 86.9 million
ChildFund beneficiaries: More than 17,000 children and families
Did You Know?: Vietnam is the largest exporter of cashews in the world.
What’s next: We learn about orphaned children in Belarus.
By David Hylton of ChildFund International
and Jacqui Ooi of ChildFund Australia
Six years ago today, the ChildFund International family lost two of its staff members in Baghdad. An attack on the Canal Hotel in the Iraqi capital on Aug. 19, 2003, claimed the lives of 22 people, including ChildFund staff members Jill Clark, Child Protection specialist, and Omar Al Orfali, a driver/interpreter.
Today, the inaugural World Humanitarian Day commemorates those individuals, such as Jill and Omar, who have risked – and lost – their lives while carrying out their work to help others.
In November 2008, we lost a staff member in Afghanistan when a suicide bomber attacked a passing military vehicle. Mohamad Shar, 52, was riding his bicycle in the area when the bomb exploded, receiving lethal shrapnel wounds. He left behind a wife and six children.
“This senseless tragedy reminds us all of the challenging circumstances faced daily by so many people around the world,” ChildFund International President and CEO Anne Lynam Goddard said following the attack.
“While ChildFund recognizes all those who contribute to making a difference in the lives of others, we pay our utmost respect to those courageous individuals who work on the ground in crisis situations and put their lives on the line,” says Nigel Spence, CEO of ChildFund Australia, a partner organization of ChildFund International.
The United Nations decided in December 2008 to designate Aug. 19 as World Humanitarian Day. This inaugural year, the focus will be primarily on commemorating those whose lives have been lost while engaged in humanitarian operations, but emphasis will also be placed on current humanitarian needs and challenges, and increasing public awareness about humanitarian assistance activities.
By David Hylton,
Public Relations Specialist
International Youth Day is a day to celebrate what the next leaders of our world have accomplished. At ChildFund International we work with children throughout all stages of life – infants, children and youth – to help them bring lasting and positive change to their communities.
On this International Youth Day, we venture to Ethiopia where a group of young people have established their own studio:
Realizing a Vision
The future of the world’s news is here. Two years ago, youth in ChildFund International’s programs in Ethiopia were sent to a video and photography training institution to learn about film production.
Shortly thereafter, these youth came up with the idea of establishing their own studio.
“A month before our graduation, we started discussing our future employment opportunity and the way we find it,” says 21-year-old Abraham Salasebew. “While analyzing this, we came up with the idea of establishing our own studio.”
The group of 11 youth with the same interest went to ChildFund Ethiopia staff and shared their vision for the studio. In response ChildFund showed its willingness to support the effort both technically and financially.
In April 2008, they received a legal license to establish the studio – Abogida Digital Studio – which began with one digital photo camera, one video camera and a computer. The group, though, still faced financial troubles with high rent for the studio and a loan that needed to be repaid. Working with ChildFund Alliance partner CCF Kinderhilfswerk (Germany), the group obtained a photocopy machine, a sound mixer and a tripod, among other items.
With these additions, the youth turned things around and are now making a profit. The Abogida Digital Studio offers photo and video recording and editing, film production and more.
“We would like to thank ChildFund for its commitment to support unemployed youth like us to realize our vision and change our hopelessness position,” Abraham says.
For more information about ChildFund International’s worth with youth, click here.
By Anne Lynam Goddard,
President and CEO
For more than 70 years, our organization has helped millions of deprived, excluded and vulnerable children improve their lives. Today we help more than 15 million children in 31 countries around the world.
As our reach and our success have grown, affiliated organizations have grown up around ours, adopting our model and adhering to rigorous standards. These other 11 partner organizations, which we call the ChildFund Alliance, have broadened our work into 55 countries.
And our work is more critical than ever. Because of the spreading global economic crisis it’s estimated that up to 53 million more people will fall into poverty in developing countries this year. That’s the equivalent of the combined populations of California and Florida.
Today we officially roll out a new name and brand to continue to pursue our mission of service to the world’s children. Today our name change from Christian Children’s Fund to ChildFund International becomes official.
While we are making changes, it is important to note the things that will remain the same:
For more information on our changes, please visit our Web site at www.ChildFund.org. We hope you’ll join us for the next 70 years.