We Listen to Children
When serving children, most humanitarian efforts historically focused primarily on health and nutrition needs — whatever parents or caregivers declared was needed.
But adults don’t know everything, and children know plenty. Children have their own eyes to see through, their own minds to think with, their own opinions and voices. We know that they have much to tell us.
Over time, we have come to understand that children see poverty differently than adults do. Not long ago, areas of Bolivia suffered a long-term water shortage. The adults highlighted its effect on livelihoods and on health and survival of humans and livestock. Children fully understood all that. What mattered to them more, though, was that they couldn’t wash themselves, so they were labeled dirty and poor. They were ashamed.
We learned that, to children, poverty means more than not having things.
Shame is one powerful barrier between young people and opportunity, educational or otherwise.
The lesson here — and we see it borne out again and again — is that children and youth often identify issues that adults tend to overlook. That is why communities need young people’s experiences and vision in order to fully address the root causes of poverty. That is how children and youth are agents of change.
To help children develop the skills they’ll need in order to bring their perspectives to the table, ChildFund begins laying groundwork as early as in infancy. We work with parents to play with and stimulate their babies. This in turn cements the parent-child bond, which is a child’s very first experience of relationship.
As children move through Early Childhood Development programs and into the primary school years, ChildFund provides more opportunities for children to come together and grow — in child and youth associations where they learn leadership skills, explore rights and protection issues, work together toward specific goals and just have fun together.