by Selamawit Yilma, Communications Officer, ChildFund Ethiopia
Un Enfant par la Main, based in France, is a member of the ChildFund Alliance. The 12-member global organization, which includes ChildFund International, provides assistance to children in 59 countries. Chairman of the Board Pierre Jablon recently led a sponsor visit to Ethiopia.
ChildFund Ethiopia: Would you please tell us a little about your organization?
Pierre Jablon: Un Enfant par la Main is a member of ChildFund Alliance and is based in France. The name Un Enfant par la Main refers to the linkage between the mother and child, and it has an English translation of “holding a child’s hand.” Established in 1990, the organization is involved in about 15 countries including Ethiopia. Ethiopia is the third [largest] country with regard to the number of sponsored children we have, next to Mali and Senegal.
ChildFund Ethiopia: What is your impression of Ethiopia in general?
Jablon: I am impressed very much by the people I see on the street and have met on our field visits. The people are so kind, smiling. They also have sense of dedication to welcome others.
ChildFund Ethiopia: What is the purpose of organizing the group of sponsors from France to visit Ethiopia?
Jablon: The first objective was to better understand what ChildFund Ethiopia is doing and how you are organized — to learn more about the system of sponsorship and financing and to know what challenges you are facing. The second objective was to be a witness to the event while sponsors meet their children and share their feeling.
ChildFund Ethiopia: Did anything strike you differently than you expected?
Jablon: I was not completely aware of the development of the association and the system used to organize the communities, which encourages them to take over the responsibility and be engaged more in the community work. Other countries also work closely with the community, but the system I noticed here is very impressive.
ChildFund Ethiopia: What was the feeling of the sponsors while they visited their sponsored children and learned about some of the interventions of our partners? Was it interesting for them?
Jablon: It was an important moment in their lives. For most of them, it was their first time to meet their sponsored children so it was a very significant event for them. They were very happy, emotional and positive. We would like to organize similar visits at least once a year but one of our barriers to sending sponsors to Ethiopia was the language problem. Most of our sponsors speak only French so they need a translator. But this time, they were happy because they were able to converse with their children and their families with the help of the team and the translator.
ChildFund Ethiopia: Is there any other expectation from the sponsors that we need to improve more in the future?
Jablon: Some of the concerns mentioned by the sponsors were to receive pictures of their sponsored children more frequently to see their physical change and growth. It is also important to have up-to-date information of the children as well as news flashes on what activities are successful for the children, families and community. Strengthening communication is important to all sponsors, and most sponsors had positive feedback on ChildFund’s sponsor activities.
ChildFund Ethiopia: Un Enfant par la Main delegated you to lead the team to visit ChildFund Ethiopia. Can you share with us a few thoughts on how your board members, and you as a chairman, are actively involved in supporting the organization and what motivates you to work on behalf of children?
Jablon: Let me start with myself. I joined Un Enfant par la Main in 2006. Before I came to this organization, I used to work with UNICEF France. I was involved in many similar activities there, like talking with children in school and doing promotional and communication work. However, I was looking for an organization that has international collaboration and is smaller in size, enabling me to understand how the donated resources reach the children and to see the impact at the individual level. I found all this in Un Enfant par la Main. The important moment for me is being here, and in other countries, is to meet ChildFund staff, introduce our organization and meet children supported through Un Enfant par la Main. Though we are small organization, we want to be closest with our partners.
Regarding to the board activity, most of them are very active and have different responsibilities such as fundraising, coordination of regional volunteer workers and raising the profile of Un Enfant par la Main through various meetings and other opportunities.
ChildFund Ethiopia: Currently Un Enfant par la Main has about 450 sponsored children in Ethiopia. Is there any plan to increase this number or enhance the partnership between Un Enfant par la Main and ChildFund Ethiopia to help children in Ethiopia?
Jablon: I have discussed this issue with the national director and agreed that if there is room to increase the number of sponsored children, we would like to do that. In addition, we would like to strengthen our partnership by starting micro projects in communities where Un Enfant par la Main sponsored children live. As I observed from my visit, micro–enterprise opportunities exist and have a positive impact of increasing family income.
ChildFund Ethiopia: Do you want to add any more?
Jablon: I would like to thank the team from ChildFund Ethiopia. It was a really fantastic welcome and excellent cooperation. I hope we could also do more to inform and motivate the sponsors from France. In the future, we may also prepare another trip since this trip has been so successful.
The Small Voices, Big Dreams survey, conducted by the ChildFund Alliance, asked more than 3,000 children worldwide some simple questions.
We believe their answers will touch your heart.
by Anne Lynam Goddard, ChildFund President and CEO
As dollars flow from developed nations to developing nations, the question often comes up: Does international aid really work?
I can give you an example of where it really has made a world of difference.
Recently I visited Taiwan to participate in the 60th anniversary celebration of Taiwan Fund for Children and Families (TFCF). ChildFund (then Christian Children’s Fund) began assisting orphans, children and families in Taiwan in 1950, bringing nutritional, health and educational services to an impoverished population.
With this life-sustaining support, Taiwan’s children began to thrive. In 1985, TFCF became an independent child sponsorship organization. ChildFund had helped for 35 years; yet, more important, we left behind this wonderful capacity. By 1987, TFCF was ready to give back to the world, and Taiwanese citizens began sponsoring children internationally. This compassion has spread to 34 countries in Asia, Africa and the Americas, helping more than 67,000 children along the way. Today TFCF is a member of the ChildFund Alliance, working in full partnership with ChildFund International and 10 other countries to assist vulnerable children globally.
Within its own country, TFCF continues to do terrific work — from introducing the foster care concept to developing state-of-the-art programs for special needs children, including a light therapy program.
Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, who met with TFCF and ChildFund Alliance members to help celebrate TFCF’s anniversary, noted that TFCF is the oldest and likely the most effective social welfare organization caring for children in Taiwan. In fact, the president is a child sponsor and has sponsored 10 children through the years. He’s especially proud that close to 1 percent of Taiwan’s population is now sponsoring children.
President Ma pointed out that TFCF’s success story mirrors Taiwan’s rise as a nation. In the 1950s, the country was on the receiving end of aid provided by foreign governments and other public- and private-sector entities. At that time, President Ma said, the average annual income per person was $100. By 1965, Taiwan no longer needed international aid as it grew its own economy and expanded its exports. Today the average Taiwanese citizen earns $15,000.
International development has paid off — it’s worked. Taiwan’s foreign policy focus on humanitarian assistance is one means of giving back while extending the nation’s standing in the world community.
At one of the anniversary events, we heard from a former sponsored child. His father had died; his mother had no education, and she had four children to feed. A sponsor’s support “changed fate for our family,” he said. Today, this man is a bank manager and a child sponsor. For a banker, return on investment (ROI) is always top of mind, yet he personally believes that the highest ROI that you can get is by focusing on a child and the education of that child.
Child sponsorship played an important role in helping Taiwan get back on its feet.
Sponsorship is an investment in the capacity of people. That’s our focus at ChildFund — providing the greatest ROI.
by Cynthia Price
Director of Communications
For the past week, 11 colleagues and I were immersed in building our leadership skills. It was a week of growth and getting to know each other in Bangkok, Thailand. We came from all of ChildFund’s regions, and one participant came from the ChildFund Alliance.
The Building Leaders Program (BLP) meant different things to each of us.
Billy Abimbilla of Liberia says the linkage among the Myers Brigg Type Indicator preferences, job placement and career planning was a wonderful eye opener. “BLP is a unique learning program with regard to its content and approach and offers flexible space for individual self-assessment and reflection abut the past, present and future,” he says.
“The BLP exceeded my expectations,” says Dennis O’Brien of the Philippines. “Not only did I learn more about myself and my learning style, but I got valuable and insightful feedback from the facilitators. But the impressions I leave the BLP with that are the strongest, are of the colleagues and fellow participants from around the ChildFund world. Some people I already knew, I got to know better, while some I met for the first time. Thanks to everyone for providing excellent perspective, ideas and experiences.”
And Julien Anseau of Thailand says, “For me, the BLP was about stepping out of my comfort zone, being stretched intellectually and emotionally, connecting with great people and choosing to be a leader.
“I want my leadership success to be measured by my legacy, by what I leave behind; real outcomes and the development of my people. I commit to becoming a student of leadership, being a leader in my professional and private life, and leveraging the investment made in me by developing other leaders in the organization.”
As for me, I am reenergized and recommitted to putting ChildFund on the map so that we help more children thrive. And that’s what BLP was about – helping each of us thrive so that collectively we can help the world’s children.
by Nicole Duciaume
ChildFund Regional Sponsorship Coordinator
Americas Regional Office
Over the past 15 years, I’ve lived in and traveled throughout Latin America and even spent some short work assignments in Africa as well. But now, for the first time, I am in Asia—in Chennai, India, to be exact.
I am here representing ChildFund International’s Americas Regional Office at the ChildFund Alliance Sponsor Relations Network meeting. This is a unique opportunity for ChildFund Alliance members (Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Sweden, Taiwan and the United States) to come together to discuss priority issues to improve our sponsorship efforts and operations in our program countries around the world. We share best practices and lessons learned and help set priorities for the coming year.
I left Panama and nearly 30 hours later arrived in Chennai. After getting some rest, I set out on Sunday morning to explore the area in a tuk-tuk (a three-wheeled, open-air scooter cab, of sorts). From my first hours in India, I can share that India is a carnival for the senses:
• Spice smells abound, wafting through the morning air.
• People are spilling out of stores, in the roads and out of bus windows.
• Horns are honking while bikes, mopeds, tuk-tuks, buses and vehicles weave through the streets.
• Roadside peddlers sell fruit, fish, vegetables, tires, sugarcane crushed into juice and coconut milk.
• Sunshine peeks out from behind the buildings and over the trees.
• Tile mosaics decorate walls, and even highway underpasses.
• Vibrant colors are everywhere — from Bollywood posters to political ads to colorful saris (not just red and blue, but fuchsia and turquoise; not just green and orange, but chartreuse and amber).
• Intricate religious shrines, decked with fresh flower garlands, are on several city corners.
• Storefronts sell electronics, fabrics, photocopies, jewelry, money transfers and meat.
• Green takes the form of trees, shrubs, flowers and city parks.
• Everyone seems to wear sandals…thin, worn and rugged.
• Cows stand idle on the sidewalks just outside ornate doors and gates.
Tomorrow we are visiting a ChildFund project community, followed by three days of conference presentations, discussions, debates and opportunities.
As we celebrate National Philanthropy Day on Sunday, Nov. 15, we salute the hundreds of thousands of sponsors and donors who support the work of ChildFund International. With your support, our 70-year legacy of serving children around the world continues.
Through our participation in the ChildFund Alliance, our global reach now extends to 55 countries where deprived, excluded and vulnerable children need assistance.
This year marks the 24th anniversary of this special day set aside to recognize and pay tribute to the great contributions that philanthropy—and those people active in the philanthropic community—have made to our lives, our communities and our world.
Keith Kogler believes that the task of healing the world is massive and that it all starts with the willingness to show kindness. He and his wife Rosemary exemplify this belief through their sponsorship of 40 children through ChildFund.
“It is by helping others that we find our true purpose and ourselves,” Keith wrote in his book, Message From the Light. “Peace, joy and happiness all come from helping others and showing kindness toward our fellow man.”
The Koglers also show kindness to entire ChildFund communities. Special book-signing events have raised enough money to support malaria-prevention programs, to build a well for fresh water and to plant a stand of fruit trees for fresh produce and income generation. Read more here.
“It’s not that we need a pat on the back,” says another generous ChildFund supporter who prefers to remain anonymous, “we just want to know how our money is helping.” Having sponsored children through ChildFund since 1974, she has been gratified by the letters she receives from children. “When we send a family gift, we always get a letter and a picture back. The children always acknowledge your letters and gifts. Having a face with a name appeals to me.”
In addition to currently sponsoring four children located in Kenya, Guatemala, Bolivia and India, she and her husband are funding a grant in Belarus. Invited by ChildFund to visit the country and see how the dollars were being spent, she relates that she was “welcomed like a member of the family.” To her wonder, the grant had paid for a refurbished teen room in a school, funded a parenting-support program, outfitted an entire kitchen for young women to learn home economics skills, procured sewing machines and supplied woodworking tools for a shop class.
“It’s amazing how far the money goes when it’s spent well,” she relates.
Although the uncertain economy is having an impact on the charitable sector, the philanthropy of donors large and small continues to have a positive impact on the fabric of society. Billions of dollars are given each year, making possible millions of programs and services.
National Philanthropy Day is formally supported by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and hundreds of other nonprofit and for-profit organizations throughout North America
It is a day worthy of celebration!
This week, we’ll be bringing you reports directly from the Philippines, where the ChildFund Alliance is meeting for business sessions and ChildFund project visits.
By Cheri Dahl
Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs
It’s close to midnight when I exit the Manila airport. Even at this late hour the air is hot, thick and moist — a big departure from the crisp fall temperatures I left behind in Virginia more than 24 hours ago. I’ve come to the Philippines to meet with ChildFund Alliance colleagues from 11 countries and to collaborate on how best to help deprived, excluded and vulnerable children.
I see a familiar face at the baggage claim. Hiroshima, a board member from ChildFund Japan and his wife Mae Grace are here. Hiroshima teaches social work at a university in Tokyo. “MG,” as his wife is called, is Filipino.
We exit the airport and catch a waiting shuttle to our hotel. I am struck by the calm stillness of the air. I was expecting whipping winds and roadside flooding — too much Weather Channel I suppose. Prior to my departure, I had kept a close eye on the weather reports. Typhoon Mirinae slammed into Manila only days ago, toppling trees, damaging homes and taking lives. It was the fourth storm to batter the Philippines in less than 90 days.
MG shares that even though tropical storms are expected here, her parents, who live in a neighboring city, report that the quick succession of recent storms has taken its toll on residents.
Later in the week, we will visit communities in metro Manila and Quezon where ChildFund serves children and families. Some have been severely affected by the recent storms. I am looking forward to talking with the families and learning more about how they cope with the constant threat of severe weather and flooding.
On the ride to the hotel, MG teaches me to say hello and thank you, “maramirg Salamat,” in her native language. I love the musical lilt of the words, and I am relieved to arrive at the hotel at least able to greet and thank my hosts.
For more on ChildFund’s work in the Philippines, click here.
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.