Forty-four applications are lying on my desk. Forty-four descriptions of new and ongoing projects to make the world a little better for children at risk of ending up in abuse and exploitation in very different parts of the world. Some are from huge, well-established organization with qualified staff, clear theories of change and strong connections with researchers that will evaluate the project. Some are from very small organizations in their very early stage of development, often with a strong commitment for the cause they want to fight for, but sometimes with less structure and capacity.
Some are planning to establish new systems to address child abuse or abandonment covering a whole city or even a country. Some are small, targeted projects supporting hard-to-reach children and youth, sometimes in a very distant area without any other services. Some of these small organizations are the only ones who manage to establish trust and provide support to a group of children that too many times have been betrayed by the adult world.
Behind those forty-four applications lies a substantial amount of work – both from Childhood but mainly of course from the organizations submitting the request for funding. All organizations have been visited by a Childhood representative and we have discussed the project idea, the capacity of the organization, the need for the project and how it fits in with other services provided by others.
What are we looking for? New, innovative approaches or methods of work that have not been tried before and that can make a change in the lives of children at risk of becoming abused or trafficked, or ending up on the street or in institutions. As an independent, flexible donor, we are able to take risks and support projects we believe in but that have not yet been able to show that their idea works. We look for projects that we feel can make a sustainable impact in the child’s life and not only help for the day. Projects that integrate the child’s right and need to play and express themselves through creativity and games. Projects that see that abused and abandoned children need more than just therapy and care. They also need to feel like normal children and teenagers having fun with their peers.
We will not be able to approve all of these applications. And we shouldn’t. Some of them are not mature enough; some are not the type of project Childhood aims to support. But with advice from our Advisory Board contributing with expertise in child protection and development work, we will be able to select quite a large number of projects that will receive the necessary resources to provide invaluable support to children most at-risk in 14 different countries.