”Now I understand the secret of Childhood. It is its ability to define and bring together people with energy and intellect, to find and support inspiring persons with ideas and initiatives for children”. The words are from Galina, one of the participants of a regional seminar that Childhood held for its partner organisations in Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus.
The themes of the seminar perhaps do not seem that exciting: monitoring and evaluation, sustainability and co-operation with the corporate sector. But they are! We chose to focus on them because we have found that these are issues that most organisations struggle with, including ourselves. It is not easy to develop a system to assess impact of your work in the complex area of child protection. What is a good result when you are working with street children? And how can you show that your work to prevent child abandonment is actually what made the difference? And is it at all possible to attract local funding in a time of global financial crisis?
We also chose those themes since they are equally important to all. It does not matter if you are a very small, emerging organisation or a big one with a lot of experiences. Both organisations working in small province villages and the ones working in the big cities need to think about these issues. And it is as necessary for organisations working with children victims of abuse as for the ones supporting families at risk to constantly try to develop in these areas. And you will never find the perfect solution for everyone and all times. You have to find ways that is suitable and on a realistic level for each project.
We also strongly believe that if donors try to impose their systems on the local level, monitoring will remain a control mechanism and not something that can be used to systematically assess and improve the actual work with the children in need, which is what we want to see. So, in order to make sure that the lectures would be as relevant as possible for the participants, we decided not to invite external experts that could tell about the ”ideal way of fundraising or monitoring” but instead we asked representatives from our partner organisations to share their practical experiences with the rest of us. We listened to Galina from Hope and Homes for Children, Victor from East Europe Foundation, Halyna from HealthRight International and Stela from Partnerships for Every Child. And based on the intensity of the following workshops on each theme where participants gave each other very honest feedback and hands-on advices, I am quite confident that they felt that this was about their reality.
After spending a day in a room full of enthusiastic and knowledgeable people from different countries, eager to share experiences and learn from each other, I can only agree with Galina. This is certainly the secret of Childhood.
Photo: Britta Holmberg