Britta Holmberg, Project Director

Regional Meeting in Kiev

”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.

Victor Liakh, East Europe Foundation in Ukraine and Olga Yankovich, Opika in Ukraine.

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.

/Britta

Photo: Britta Holmberg

Charlotte Brandin, Executive Director USA

Entrepreneurial funding – that’s how Childhood works!

In 2002, Childhood was just starting to fund projects in the US. Internationally, Childhood was present in 10 countries. Within the next 18 months, seven projects were granted funding as part of the Childhood USA portfolio of projects. Here are three examples of how Childhood works with projects.

Northside Center for Child Development

Harlem, New York

Northside Center for Child Development has received support from Childhood for almost a decade. Located in Harlem, and serving children in a poor community, Northside saw that despite the ‘extra’ efforts that all children in their elementary and middle-school classes received, there was one group of children that was still not able to take advantage of the additional attention – because they had been sexually abused and traumatized. Northside came to Childhood with a grant proposal to help this group of children, and created The Creative Arts Therapy program (CAT) that builds on a model that helps both the injured child and the non-offending parent. The program offers counseling, group therapy, but most importantly, healing of the trauma through art and artistic self-expression.

Miami, Florida

Kristi House, the Miami-Dade county designated Child Advocacy Center (CAC), is another organization that was referred to Childhood. In 2007, Kristi House presented an idea for a program that no funder, in Florida or elsewhere, was taking seriously, the trafficking of children for sexual purposes. Kristi House had an ambitious plan: creating a network of community service providers, educate law enforcement of the problem, rescue children, evaluate and assist them, and finally help the children heal. A tall order that Kristi House ever since has successfully developed in to a program called G.O.L.D., Girls Owning and Living their Dreams. Earlier this year, the Safe Harbor legislation, treating children as victims instead of perpetrators of sexual crimes, was signed into law, and in early 2013, an emergency shelter for rescued girls will open. See recent article from project visit here.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

In 2005, The Bridge for Youth applied for funding, in collaboration with the Carlson Family Foundation, to start a program directed at helping Hmong girls who were trafficked within their own, small community.

In the course of the program, The Bridge realized that the issue of sexual exploitation, which is the preferred term together with commercial sexual exploitation (aka prostitution, a term not valid when describing children), was something that every youth who walked in their door was exposed to. Since then, The Bridge has incorporated a holistic view on the trauma of sexual exploitation embracing all children that they serve. Staff first broach the issue at intake, and continues carefully through counseling as they work through each and every child’s particular situation. It is a reality in any city in the US, within 24-36 hours a child who has been kicked out of or run away from home will be approached for sex in exchange for food or a bed to sleep in. The window of opportunity to help a child is limited, but The Bridge’s approach has shown that it can be successful.

These three examples of entrepreneurial funding represent core projects that were started as a result of community need, observant and active organizations, and attentive staff. They are hallmarks for how Childhood works, on a small-scale basis, investing in real efforts, and then developed into viable, successful and sustainable programs serving children in need.

We will share more of these ‘start-up’ stories in the months to come.

/Charlotte

Åsa Wikström, Country Manager Belarus, Moldova, Russia

An Open World

Kaliningrad in October. It is an ordinary house in an ordinary street. A nice neighborhood not far from the center of the city. There is a gate but no sign showing what kind of place this is. There are apple trees in the garden, with the biggest apples I have ever seen. The colors of autumn are starting to show.

I am here to visit the organization Open World. It was founded in 2002 to support young people leaving residential care institutions. The target groups of the project Home Chance – Successful start in independent life are young people who grew up in orphanages, teenagers who are still living in orphanages and young parents who were raised in orphanages. Eight young people are currently living in the Home Chance. They live here temporarily and receive various kinds of support from a small team of social pedagogues and psychologists.

During the day, I get to meet several of the young people who take part in the different activities at Home Chance. A group of young people from Home Chance have a first meeting with psychology and social work students from the university to plan a joint project. The goal is to set up a program for a group of teenagers who are about to leave an orphanage, to prepare them for an independent life outside the institution. Another group of young parents (seven mothers and one father) have a group meeting with a psychologist while their children are being taken care of in a room nearby. They do some exercises to get to know each other and discuss the plans for the nearest future, what topics they would like to see covered in their meetings and events.

Even though I had heard about Home Chance before I came here, I am still a bit surprised. The whole atmosphere is so warm, friendly and open. An ordinary house with extraordinary people.

/Åsa