Do you wish to see an entire underprivileged community gradually come out of the wrath of poverty? Just make a wish, and CEFARH is here to make your noble wish come true.
With only UGx 140,000 = (USD 38 / EURO 35) per Month, you can sponsor a child and change their lives.
How our child sponsorship program protects children from violence
Violence takes many forms. Conflict and war. Exploitation. Negligence and abuse. Some of it is played out in world news headlines, but some of it happens in secret, behind closed doors. But every year, 1.7 billion are affected by violence.
Take a moment to think about that. If every one of those 1.7 billion children laid a piece of paper on a pile, it would stand 100 kilometers high. That’s the height of 11 Mount Everest stacked on top of each other.
Here are ways child sponsorship works to protect children from violence.
1. Knowing and being known
Being sponsored means a child is seen – by their sponsor, by CEFARH staff and our community volunteers, by our networks of local community leaders and partners, and by their government. That means that every one of the 213 children in the child sponsorship program has an alliance of people committed to caring for and looking out for them. Child sponsorship staff and volunteers know each child’s personal situation and are proactively working to keep them safe.
There hasn’t been a day that our work to protect children has stopped, even when COVID-19 restrictions have prevented our staff from visiting the communities we work with.
We’ve used our locally-based volunteers as well as mobile phones, WhatsApp, social media and any other locally available technology to continue monitoring children’s health and well-being and respond to their needs, whether that’s COVID-19 prevention information, resources to enable them to continue learning from home, online counseling or psychosocial support, medical care, or intervention from local police especially for those one affected by war.
We also help children’s families to register their birth – a simple thing that makes them less vulnerable to exploitation or abuse. Birth certificates – something many of us take for granted – are critical to making kids visible to their government and providing an important layer of protection as we also fight against child marriage in the community.
Without a birth certificate, a child might not be able to enroll in school, access public healthcare, prove they are too young to marry, or be tracked down if they are separated from their family. Birth registration is a key to lots of basic opportunities for a child, and child sponsorship helps make sure they can open those doors.
2. Empowering children
Children themselves are at the core of our approach to child protection. Children have rights – to safety, health, education and freedom from abuse, among others. When they understand those rights, children are less vulnerable to exploitation.
But more than that, when children are empowered to enjoy their rights, they can become a powerful force for change. When children and young people learn to communicate opinions, take responsibility and make decisions, they develop a sense of belonging, justice, responsibility and solidarity – all of which can be pivotal to ending violence in their generation, and the next.
- In Uganda, we use translated video shows to teach children about their rights and creating safe spaces for them to play.
- We work with girls to understand that female genital mutilation is both damaging and illegal, and encourage them to look out for each other.
- We support children to establish Child Forums where they work together to end child marriage by reporting cases, finding birth certificates to prevent underage girls from being married, and advocating for ending the practice.
And it’s working – children we are working with in Uganda stopped over 50 child marriages in their communities every year. All around the world, children have been stepping into the frontline in their communities and taking action to keep children safe and call out violence when it occurs.
3. Educating and supporting parents
Families should be children’s fiercest protectors – but sometimes, they are the enablers or even the perpetrators of the violence that children experience. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the risk of physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse that some children face, with lockdowns isolating them from their broader school and community networks and the protection that they offer.
At the same time, the economic stress caused by the lockdowns and other COVID-related effects can make desperate families more vulnerable to the financial lures of subjecting their children to child labor, child marriage, child prostitution, and child trafficking.
We are working to combat these after effects by teaching caregivers about positive parenting and discipline techniques, children’s rights and the law, the importance of education, and the risks and consequences of putting children into exploitative situations.
We are also tackling the economic drivers of exploitation and violence by providing caregivers with emergency food, cash, and tangibles so they can meet their families’ needs, helping them to rebuild their livelihoods with training, equipment, and connecting them to counseling, psychosocial support, or just a listening ear.
4. Mobilizing communities
Community-based development is at the heart of child sponsorship, and we are mobilizing communities in the 4 districts where we work to protect children from violence.
In each of these communities, we build strong, trusted relationships with local partners, including teachers, police, health workers, local government, community organizations, and businesses, as well as leaders from many faiths, who are often the most trusted and authoritative voices in their communities.
Some of these faith leaders may have promoted gender inequality, stigma, family violence and harmful traditional practices like child marriage and female genital mutilation in the past, so we work with Christian, Muslim, Hindu and other leaders to address misconceptions, and empower them to inspire their communities to better meet the needs of the most vulnerable.
We also partner with over 110 community volunteers who live and work in the same communities as our sponsored children, equipping them to monitor and support children’s well-being and become catalysts for community change to end violence against children.
During COVID-19 lockdowns, these community volunteers have been an ever-present safety net for children, even when schools and other services were closed; they live in the same neighborhood even when we can’t be there.
They are helping to change the community’s views on issues like child marriage, child labor, and physical discipline; they are equipping caregivers with positive parenting techniques; and when violence against children occurs, they are reporting it to authorities – and explaining to others in their community why and how to report violence too.
And it’s not just sponsored children who benefit when communities come together to make the areas safer for children. Because of our community-based development approach, for every child who is sponsored, many other children benefit from the project.