For more than 65 years, Christian Children’s Fund has acted as a strong voice for children and their protection. Efforts consist of reducing risks to children’s well-being, making children’s rights a reality and creating an enabling environment that supports children’s positive developments.
CCF addresses major child protection issues, including assisting children in complex emergency situations, harmful child labor practices, girls at risk, inheritance rights, birth registration, and family retracing.
Created to provide normalizing and structured activities for children, in times of emergency, Child Centered Spaces give children a safe place to heal and regain their childhoods.
Spaces also act as a platform for mobilizing and motivating parents and communities, enabling them to begin a local rebuilding and recovery process. In some areas, programming has expended to include livelihood activities for women and youth, community development, rehabilitation of basic educational facilities, youth literacy and vocational training.
Spaces were set up in countries devastated by the December 26 tsunami, including India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia; in India following the 2001 earthquake; in Afghanistan, after the fall of the Taliban; in Sierra Leone, working with Liberian refugees; in northern Uganda, helping displaced persons; and in Chad, assisting Sudanese refugees.
The issue of child labor in developing countries is a complex one. Typically, child labor is a necessity as families depend on this additional source of income. Thus, it is CCF’s goal to prevent harmful child labor practices and provide nontraditional educational opportunities for children who must work to help the family survive.
When a child must work, CCF ensures job safety and provides alternative educational opportunities, including night school and after school vocational training.
Work in the Philippines aims to reduce the engagement of children in the six worst forms of child labor, including mining and quarrying, sugar agriculture, pyrotechnics, deep sea fishing, domestic work and sexual exploitation.
CCF-Philippines also offers parents opportunities to increase their own income, through job generation and thereby decreases the need for financial support generated by their young children. In addition, parents receive coaching on responsible parenthood and participate in parent-to-parent support groups.
CCF continues to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of child labor with a series of programs and lectures attended by government officials, parents and community leaders.
Education, and the opportunities provided, is often out of reach for children in developing countries, especially girls. Traditional practices, lack of finances, frequent resettlement and household chores can prevent girls from receiving a basic education.
In 1999, the organization founded Kenya’s Naning’oi Girls’ Primary School to rescue underage Maasai girls from early marriage and instead enroll them in formal studies.
In order to persuade parents to release their daughters for education, CCF adopted a modified “booking” method, meant to parallel the more traditional act of “booking” a girl for marriage. CCF project staff and local elders negotiate with a girl’s parents and suitor to cancel the marriage, establish a dowry repayment plan and enroll her in school.
In addition to the 350 already enrolled and boarded in the school, more than 500 infants and girls have been booked and will attend when they reach the required age.
Particularly important in developing countries where only 30 percent of children receive proper documentation, birth registration, is the first step in protecting a child’s rights.
A child’s birth certificate provides a critical link to proper health care, social assistance and school enrollment. The creation of an official government birth record helps protect a child from infanticide, sale for marriage, the sex trade or other harmful child labor practices.
Using this and other procedures, CCF helps affiliated communities monitor vital events, including birth, marriage, migration and death.
In an effort to mobilize communities to respect the legal authority of a will and encourage a more equitable inheritance system, CCF is educating children, parents and community leaders about the importance of will writing.
In many countries, women are often victim to “property grabbing” whereby a husband dies and his relatives lay claim to the family’s property and belongings. CCF is promoting the adoption of wills to safeguard women, children and family property from this practice. With recognition of traditional authorities likes chiefs, clan leaders and other community members, the organization is working to encourage the writing of wills.
Abducted during civil wars and forced to take up arms and fight, many former child soldiers in worn-torn countries are wary of returning home once a truce has been signed.
In Liberia, for example, CCF social workers turned gumshoe detectives trace former child soldier’s families. They go door to door, asking people if they recognize certain names given to the social workers by children. To corroborate whether a child actually lived in the community, they will ask the child’s full name, any special identifying marks or details about a family story.
Prior to reintegration, Interim Care Center social workers will collaborate with children and families to develop individual reintegration plans for each child. These plans will enable the child to set individual goals and address any issues that require special attention for family or community mediation.
The international humanitarian community increasingly recognizes the importance of children’s rights, which hinge on overall safety and protection. CCF and other non- governmental organizations (NGOs) have aroused public opinion and action, taking key steps in the advancement of child protection worldwide.
CCF is committed to a culture that empowers beneficiaries to be knowledgeable of their rights, to now what is acceptable, to know what to do when there are problems.