BØRNEfonden Marks 20 Years in Togo

By Christa Nedergaard Rasmussen, National Director BØRNEfonden Togo

chldren in classroom

Schools have improved for Togolese children.

Last month, BØRNEfonden — ChildFund’s Alliance partner in Denmark — celebrated its 20th anniversary in Togo. Government representatives thanked BØRNEfonden for its work in the east African nation, and two former sponsored children spoke about their experiences.

As in the other program countries where BØRNEfonden and ChildFund work, development activities in Togo are aimed at creating a better future for children and youth. The focus is on health, education, income-generating activities and early childhood development.

Approximately 12,000 children in Togo are supported by a sponsor, including many from the United States.

The anniversary was celebrated in the Togolese capital of Lome with 170 guests, including representatives from the federal government, Danish companies, international and national NGOs. BØRNEfonden’s CEO, Bolette Christensen, was also present.

“It’s great to see how collaboration between BØRNEfonden and local authorities, national and international NGOs give positive results,” Christensen said.

During the past 20 years, local partners working with BØRNEfonden have built 256 schools, 80 kindergartens and 18 libraries in 28 rural communities.

toddler drinks from pitcher

Fresh water to drink.

But particularly in the health sector, where the focus has been to give more people access to clean drinking water, the results are remarkable. Within just the past five years, 75,000 Togolese people gained access to potable water. Working with local partners, BØRNEfonden, with the support of sponsors, helped drill 40 wells, repair 110 existing wells and supported 238 local water committees to maintain the pumps and manage consumers’ fees.

Minister of Development Djossou Semodji, speaking on behalf of the federal government, thanked BØRNEfonden for its work and many achievements. He emphasized that he looks forward to many years of future cooperation.

Also, formerly sponsored children who have become successful adults spoke about what BØRNEfonden had meant to them. “After I left school, I came to a technical school and became a carpenter,” said Abdoulaye Issaka. “Today I have my own carpenter’s shop and trains apprentices.”

“I come from a poor family from the country,” said Adjoa Adjimon, “but at one of BØRNEfonden’s summer camps, it dawned on me that all men are worth something. I got enough confidence to get an education. I have a B.A. in economics and am now employed by the Togo Post Office.”

A group of youth from impoverished rural areas who advocate for young people’s rights came to the celebration to speak about their goals, including establishing the right to go to school, protection from violence and better hygienic conditions at school.

Christenson noted about the youth’s presentation: “It is an important task they have undertaken to fight for their own and other children’s rights.”

Discover more about ChildFund’s work in Togo.

‘If I Were President’…Children Have a Few Ideas

By Virginia Sowers, ChildFund Community Manager

For the past few years, the ChildFund Alliance (a 12-member organization that includes ChildFund International) has been asking children to tell us what they would do if they were president or the leader of their country. As you can imagine, 11- to 12-year-olds have some definite ideas.

As U.S. voters go to the polls today to elect the next president of the United States, we wanted to share with you some very good ideas for changing the world offered up by children who have a lot of important things to say when asked.

If I Were President…

child with siblings

“I would provide more libraries and more learning opportunities.” – Antonio, 11, St. Vincent and the Grenadines (Caribbean)

boy talking to an adult

“I would encourage education for every child and I would multiply school infrastructures in every village where there are maximum numbers of children of school age. This is good because when you are educated you can help yourself and your family. You can get a better job and can go to any part of the world.” – Ibrahima, 12, Guinea

boy eating lunch

“I would provide school supplies for children free of charge.” – Dhanushka, 11, Sri Lanka

boy sitting on planter

“I would build roads in far-away places as well as organize summer camps.” – Erick, 12, Ecuador

girl with goats

“I would create school canteens in order to give the opportunity to many pupils who live very far away from school to eat lunch. And I would provide pupils with school supplies, uniforms and [pay] fees.” – Jeannette, 12, Togo

girl at school

“I would take away all of the weapons so kids don’t get hurt.” – Shalma, 11, United States

girl tending plants

“I would provide  free education for all children between 6 to 18 years.” – Anushree, 11, India

To help these children and others like them achieve their dreams, and maybe one day grow up to be president, consider sponsoring a child.

Around the Globe with ChildFund in 31 Days: Supporting Youth Volunteers in Togo

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 visit Togo.

Togo, a small country on Africa’s west coast, is rebuilding after years of political instability and isolation.

Like many other African countries it was threatened by an HIV/AIDS epidemic, but it was stemmed in part because of the voluntary work of hundreds of enthusiastic Togolese youth. Because it is often the young who are most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and STDs, the youth are often the best ones to address the problem in their communities.

youth group

Peer educators (Photo: Mario Travaini)

With ChildFund’s support, youth in 22 municipalities collaborated with adult supervisors and health workers to educate themselves and their peers about safe health practices. In the past, traditional laws often prohibited young people from talking with adults. The youth built a bridge by entering into dialogue with village and religious leaders to win their trust and cooperation.

As a result, today’s Togolese youth have a brighter future. They know they can influence others and be heard.

Other changes in this tiny country include access to quality education. ChildFund has built new schools and libraries, providing opportunities for learning that did not previously exist. Students now have access to maps, dictionaries and books. And for those students who struggle with learning in a formal setting, hands-on apprenticeship opportunities now exist in areas such as mechanics, carpentry and sewing.

ChildFund is also providing training opportunities to parents to help improve their income-generating potential. Farmers are trained in agricultural techniques, while others have access to loans to start and expand small businesses.

Discover more about ChildFund’s programs in Togo.

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

By David Hylton,
Public Relations Specialist

31 in 31In western Africa, sandwiched between Ghana and Benin, is the small country of Togo. At about 22,000 square miles, it covers roughly the same area of land as West Virginia.

ChildFund International has worked in Togo since 1984. The country has undergone years of political unrest, holding its first relatively free and fair election in October 2007.

Togo’s economy also has suffered over the years. To help offset these deep-seated challenges and break the cycle of poverty, ChildFund is providing the country’s next generation with knowledge and tools to generate income. Our sustainable livelihood programs equip children with skills in agriculture, animal husbandry, carpentry, mechanics and handcrafts. Farmers also now have access to special agricultural courses and loans to help stimulate food production for the country. Implementing these programs not only gives the economy a boost, but also leads to food self-sufficiency for entire communities in Togo.

Our support to the people of Togo also extends to education as well as health and sanitation. ChildFund supplies school uniforms, textbooks and writing materials to primary school students. In addition, we administer vaccinations to children for measles, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, tuberculosis and polio.

Although the country is small, the call to break the cycle of poverty must not go unanswered. As the country gains political stability, now is a critical time to help children achieve positive outcomes for lasting change.

For more information about Togo, click here.

More on Togo
Population: 6 million
ChildFund beneficiaries: More than 700 children and families
Did You Know?: Togolese artist Paul Ahyi was named as a UNESCO Artist for Peace in September. Paul creates ceramics, tapestries and jewelry, and designs interiors and household objects.

What’s next: Youth in Honduras tell us how poverty impacts them. 

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