By Kirsten Hongisto, communications manager-Asia for Christian Children's Fund
In early fall 2005, CCF-India organized a three-day development fair, commencing the nationwide forum of CCF staff members and the organization's partners to discuss important issues facing children and communities in India. The forum also convened to celebrate 55 years of making a difference in the lives of children.
“It was probably the first time in the history of India that such a large number of nongovernmental organization staff members dedicated to the cause of child development in India gathered under one roof,” said CCF-India National Director Dola Mohapatra.
The gathering in Bhubaneswar, the capitol of Orissa, brought together 500 people representing 90 civil society groups which partner with CCF-India.
More than 150 children also participated in the event.
Through the event, billed as Spandan, meaning vibrations in Sanskrit, CCF-India wanted its partners and staff to take with them the core message of CCF’s “child-centeredness," Mohapatra said.
“We wanted this event to create resonance in everyone’s hearts and minds about children … the vibrations were symbolic of our encouragement for the CCF team, partners and projects to rededicate themselves for the cause of children.”
His Excellency Shri Rameshwar Thakur, the Governor of the State of Orissa, lauded CCF for its commitment to the development of children in India for the past 50 years and emphasized the need for the organization's continued work for children.
The first afternoon belonged to the children.
Children from Orissa led the others in a process of dreaming for themselves, their families, communities, states and the country. At the end of the session, children painted their dreams on a large canvas.
“Children’s participation and their cultural presentations made Spandan a memorable event for many people," Mohapatra said. "It was an occasion to create some spark among the children who attended and ignite their spirits."
Thematic sessions led by experts from India covered practical topics and major issues affecting the participating nongovernmental organizations, including:
- Child Centeredness in Development Programs — Practices in Child Development Agencies
- Globalization, Social Movements and Alternatives
- Poverty, the Family and the Young Child: Impact, Challenges and Possibilities
- Information and Communication Technologies, the Digital Divide and the Transfer of Technology for Poverty Alleviation
- Health for All: Challenges to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals
- The Marginalized within the Marginalized — Toward an Inclusive Community
- Education for All: Has Independent India Failed Its Children?
Launching of Country Strategy Paper
The Honorable Finance Minister of Orissa, P.C. Ghadei, launched CCF-India’s Country Strategy Paper for 2005 through 2009. The strategy conveys what CCF-India wants to accomplish for the children of India and includes:
- The Concern: Impacting the lives of India’s most vulnerable children by consolidation, expansion or scaling up of programs in the 150 least developed districts in the country.
- The Content: Promising a Bright Future for India’s most vulnerable children by providing high quality programs through the participation of all stakeholders, especially children.
- The Commitment: Mobilizing Indian resources for Indian children with a total investment from all sources to reach $75 million in the next five years.
Because of the event’s impact, CCF-India plans to hold subsequent Spandans, at both state and national levels.