ChildFund Caribbean

Around the Globe with ChildFund in 31 Days: Nurturing Children and Teen Mothers in St. Vincent

Reporting by Gelina Fontaine, ChildFund Caribbean

31 in 31 logoOver the course of January’s 31 days, we’re making a blog stop in each country where we serve children, thanks to the generous support of our sponsors and donors. Today we learn about ChildFund’s programs in St. Vincent, which, along with Dominica, are under the umbrella of ChildFund Caribbean.

Yesterday we visited ChildFund’s programs in Dominica, next-door neighbor to
St. Vincent and the Grenadines, where ChildFund began operations in the early 1980s. Through the years, ChildFund Caribbean has provided a wide variety of services ranging from supporting the establishment of preschool centers, providing health support for infant immunization and proper nutrition and ensuring students enrolled in our programs have school supplies, uniforms, books, bus fare and hot meals.

Young women learn to cook

Teens participate in skills training.

In addition, ChildFund offerings for youth and their parents include skills training such as weaving, basketry, typing, carpentry, electrical wiring, sewing and home management. We’ve also worked to improve the housing status of families enrolled in ChildFund programs.

In 2011, ChildFund held consultations with children and youth and communities as part of a strategic planning process. Those consultations revealed that the top issues affecting children and youth in St. Vincent are drug abuse, crime and violence, teenage pregnancy, child abuse and lack of a father’s support. Poor parenting practices, poor quality education, unemployment, insufficient awareness of children’s rights and limited support services emerged as the underlying causes of these social ills affecting children, youth and their families.

While continuing support for infant health, early childhood education, ChildFund is now directing additional attention to literacy and a program for teen mothers.

Child and mother

A young mother practices parenting skills.

Many teen girls are becoming mothers at an age where they should be in high school and college, furthering their self-development and improving their potential to secure a job. ChildFund, working through the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Children’s Federation Inc., is supporting the Teen Mothers Program to improve the standard of care and security for infants born to teen parents. The program also nurtures and mobilizes teen moms, helping them adopt good parenting practices all the while improving their own literacy and entrepreneurial skills.

“Working with the teen mothers at St. Vincent and the Grenadines gives us at ChildFund and our partners a great opportunity to reach the hearts and minds of young parents,” says Ana Maria Locsin, national director of ChildFund Caribbean. “It is always heartwarming to interact with these young women as they experience and learn through this engagement that they have better options in life, even while facing the daunting fears and challenges of early pregnancy.”

Son and father

Teen fathers are encouraged to take a hands-on role with their children.

In addition to the goal of reducing the rate of teenage pregnancies, the Teen Mothers Program also encourages teen fathers to become involved in caring for their infant and toddler children, thus reducing the number of cases of absent fathers. Parents and grandparents of these teens also are invited to participate in various programs since it takes a community to raise a child.

Discover more about ChildFund’s programs in St. Vincent and how you can sponsor a child.

New National Director Takes Helm of ChildFund Caribbean

by Nicole Duciaume, Regional Sponsorship Coordinator, ChildFund Americas

National Director at press conference

Newly appointed ChildFund Caribbean National Director Ana Maria Locsin speaks at a press conference.

Ana Maria Locsin became national director of ChildFund Caribbean in early August, though her welcome was a bit delayed due to a tropical storm. But once she arrived, it was nonstop action her first week, despite the 12-hour time difference from her native Philippines.

Her first two days on the job were a whirlwind of activity: national office orientation, an official welcome to the region, team debriefs, program field visit, community meetings, CSP review, audit finding reports and a press conference. If memory serves, we did allow her to eat, rest and shower as well.

National director with child in community

On her first day as ChildFund Caribbean national director, Ana Maria Locsin is all smiles posing with a child participating in ChildFund's summer camp program.

In the press conference to introduce her to the local media, Paul Bode, regional director for ChildFund Americas, highlighted Locsin’s long career working in child development. “Ana’s international knowledge, experience and perspectives will be invaluable to Caribbean programs,” he noted.

Most recently, Locsin served as ChildFund’s national director in Afghanistan. She’s also worked with ChildFund in India and the Philippines. Earlier in her career she held international assignments in Vietnam and Timor-Leste.

Locsin holds degrees in development management and business administration. She has also participated in intensive programs in senior leadership; disaster risk reduction and emergency management; child protection; child-centered community development approach; home-based early childhood care and development; adolescent reproductive health; HIV/AIDS/STD; environmental protection; and gender and development.

Locsin says her first two orders of business are to “marry the statistics and demographics” she’s read about with actual site visits. “I want to better understand the country context and to meet community stakeholders, as well as local government officials and members of the media.”

With a new direction and new leadership in place, the first week of August was certainly an exciting time to visit ChildFund Caribbean.

ChildFund Caribbean Strives for Sustainable Change for Children

by Nicole Duciaume, Regional Sponsorship Coordinator, ChildFund Americas

A view of Dominica's coastline

During a community discussion, a look out the window reveals the true beauty of the Dominican coastline. What is not seen is the high levels of poverty and unemployment.

Earlier this month, several ChildFund Americas regional staff weathered the storm (literally hunkering down to see what tropical storm Emily would bring our way) to visit our Caribbean office, meet with staff and tour field programs in Dominica and St. Vincent.

The purpose of our trip was twofold: to review the draft Country Strategy Paper (CSP) and provide a brief orientation to the new ChildFund Caribbean national director.

In Dominica, a young mother hangs laundry out to dry.

In these two island countries, we’re working to bring significant and sustainable change to children, youth, families and communities.

Paul Bode, ChildFund’s regional director of the Americas, often states that to make significant changes through our programs, we need clear direction and strong leadership.

As part of ChildFund’s strategic planning process, each National Office writes a CSP that captures the full scope of where we’ve been, where we’re at and where we want to go. It’s our roadmap for success, merging ChildFund’s big-picture strategy with locally identified needs for children and communities.

The CSP process involves

  • stakeholder analysis (meetings with communities, families, program partners, government agencies, other NGOs who work in the country and potential funders to identify the needs/desires of each group)
  • secondary data review (analyzing existing reports, statistics and other available information to better understand the context of services needed in the country)
  • capacity assessment (identifying human, financial and system resources essential to our work)
  • direction setting (determining the strategic path ChildFund will take to bring about changes in the lives of children and youth and what we need to make that happen).

The process is labor intensive and can take upwards of six months to complete. Yet, it’s a worthwhile investment to ensure we have a common understanding of priorities and direction going forward.

More to come on the specifics of the ChildFund Caribbean CSP.

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