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It’s a fundamental truth that drives everything we do here at ChildFund – and it’s why we work through grassroots organizations made up of people who live in the area and who have a stake in creating the conditions their children need to thrive. These local partner organizations work alongside kids and families in locally relevant ways to help more children achieve their potential.
ChildFund works this way because we believe in partnership, not patronization. We believe that local ownership of change is critical to improving children’s lives, and we believe that by acting in partnership, we can all do more for each other.
Through these partnerships, ChildFund reaches kids directly while also involving parents, teachers and local governments in upholding children’s rights. And we ensure that the positive changes we’re working toward together – like better access to education, health, safety and opportunity – really stick.
Together, ChildFund, its local partners and the kids and families we work with are cocreating societies that recognize children’s worth, protect their rights and nurture their potential. Because local people know their own neighborhoods best. Families know their own dynamics best. And children know what it’s like to be them better than anyone.
The staff of ChildFund’s local partner organizations have deep roots in the communities where they work because they live there. They speak local languages, understand local challenges and have a strong grasp on what it’s like to be a child growing up in that community. In fact, some of our local partner staff were once sponsored children themselves.
Phoebe, 26, is one of them. She works for Mbale Area Federation of Communities (MAFOC), the local partner organization that supported her as a child, in Mbale, Uganda.
“When I was young, I didn't have a clear picture of who I wanted to become,” Phoebe says. All she knew was that she wanted to learn and, eventually, go to university. Phoebe remembers the sadness she felt when, as a young child, she was pulled out of her first day of primary school because her parents realized they couldn’t afford to pay all the fees. She had to wait at home for an extra year while they saved money.
Eventually, Phoebe was enrolled in a program with MAFOC – and that’s when things started to change.
“When they enrolled me, I remember there was a social worker called Margret,” Phoebe says. “Margret liked me so much. Whenever I would go to the office … whenever they would call me there, I admired her.
“One day I asked her what she did for her to be there to do whatever she was doing. And then she told me I have to study and become a social worker. That’s how I could be in her position. … She became like my role model at that time.”
With Margret’s guidance, Phoebe learned about everything she had to do to achieve her dream of going to university – and, over time, it began to seem more and more possible. With financial support from her sponsor, her family bought several goats and a cow. The livestock multiplied and eventually brought in enough income to fund Phoebe’s college education.
As a young adult, Phoebe divided her time between studying on campus and interning for MAFOC. When she graduated from college with her diploma in social work, she continued volunteering with the organization. “They saw me as a capable person to work there, and they gave me a job,” Phoebe smiles. “I am so grateful for that.”
Phoebe’s favorite part of her job is helping kids write letters to their sponsors – “and also the stories that children tell,” she says. She enjoys being the liaison between children and all the other people in her community.
“I like associating with people, and I think it’s a good thing,” she says. “You learn a lot from people in the community.”
But she also doesn’t want to stop here. She has plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in social work – maybe even a Ph.D. “I want to go back to school,” Phoebe says. “That’s my dream.”