Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hello Richmond! Did You Know We Were Here?

By David Hylton, Public Relations Specialist

Earlier this year, we created this blog as a way to keep you up to date on what's happening at Christian Children's Fund. Unfortunately, we admit, we let it slide. Before we knew it, a month had passed … then several months … then all of a sudden the last quarter of 2008 is here.

I'm here to tell you, though, that this blog is back. So please bookmark this page, add it to your RSS reader, e-mail a link to your friends – we want your help in keeping it going.

This all being said, we want to re-kick this blog off with a warm Richmond, Va., welcome. Oh wait, you didn't know that we're located in Richmond? Well then, that's a good place to start. We'll begin by giving you a few Richmond facts.

* We have been in the Richmond area since our founding in 1938.

* We are now located in Henrico County on Emerywood Parkway just off Broad Street near Glenside Drive. We’re next to the relatively new Virginia Blood Services Building.

* We employ about 200 people at our Richmond headquarters, better known as the International Office. CCF employs about 1,600 worldwide.

* In the past year, more than 7,100 people in the Richmond and Petersburg area contributed to CCF through child sponsorships or one-time donations.

* Our current 24-member board of directors includes 11 individuals from the Richmond area.

* In a 2005 study ("Virginia's Nonprofit Sector: An Economic Force," by Lester M. Salamon, Stephanie Lessans Gellar, and Wojciech Sokolowski), CCF was listed as one of the top five nonprofits by total revenue in the Richmond/Petersburg region.

Now that you know a little more about us and our connection to Richmond, we want to hear from you. What do you want to know about us? Are you a sponsor and have a story you’d like to tell? What kind of blog entries would you like to see on this site? Please share your comments, ideas, suggestions and questions in the comments section below.

Click here to visit CCF's official Web site.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Start with the Children

By David Hylton, Public Relations Specialist

All day you’ve probably seen what people think of poverty, what they’re doing to help those in poverty and, like our blog today, you’ve probably seen many first-hand accounts of poverty. The United Nations has a goal to halve poverty in the world by 2015 as part of its Millennium Development Goals, but how can we really combat poverty?

The answer is what we’ve been hinting at all day – the battle begins with children.

“The biggest force for transforming a culture of poverty is the children who grow up poor and gain the skills and self-confidence to change their lives,” says Christian Children’s Fund President and CEO Anne Goddard.

Children are the biggest agents of change. CCF works every day in 32 countries around the globe implementing programs to help children become young adults, parents and leaders who bring lasting and positive change in their communities.

“Working with children is crucial because if you can lift a child out of poverty, that child becomes a force in moving others out,” Goddard says. “If you change the life of a child, you change the future for their children.”

Nobody said fighting poverty was going to be easy. With thousands of people participating in Blog Action Day, we hope that you are more aware of this global problem. Together we can all make a difference.

If you want to know more about CCF and its efforts to fight poverty, click here to access our Web site.

A Small Victory in a Big Fight

By David Hylton, Public Relations Specialist

The fight against poverty isn’t always about the bad news. Here’s a story on how one girl is living a better life because of Christian Children’s Fund.

Nine-year-old Celsia is now living a healthy life. It hasn’t always been this way. Celsia and her family, which includes three siblings, live in Timor Leste where 46 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, life expectancy is low and there’s a low education level.

In Celsia’s village, children lack access to health care, safe water and pre-primary education. In 2001, a partner affiliate of CCF Timor Leste started its service programs addressing the health, nutrition and pre-school needs of children younger than 6.

At 2 years old, a severely malnourished Celsia was a beneficiary of a supplementary feeding program.

When Celsia was 4, she joined the Early Childhood Development (ECD) activities of the partner affiliation. She learned the alphabet and numbers, as well as played and sang with her friends. The ECD activities prepared Celsia and her friends for their primary school education.

Now in her fourth grade, the ECD services continue to help Celsia through after-school tutorials. Celsia happily talks about the lessons, games and singing she has done through the ECD program. She says that the supplementary feeding program helped her to be healthy.

Celsia describes living in poverty as not having “the opportunity to have proper food, health care and school facilities.” Her parents remain determined to try their best to provide opportunities to Celsia, her siblings and the other children in their village.

Breaking the Circle of Poverty in Taiwan

By David Hylton, Public Relations Specialist

Christian Children’s Fund is a member of the ChildFund Alliance, a family of 12 organizations that partner together to improve the lives of deprived, excluded and vulnerable children and their families in 56 countries. One of those organizations is Taiwan Fund for Children and Families (TFCF).

Through the Domestic Children Sponsorship Program, TFCF provides needy children with financial assistance and an opportunity to continue their education through sponsorship programs, scholarships and an emergency relief fund. Social workers track children’s situations with regular home visits and interviews.

In 2007, thousands of children and families received assistance through TFCF’s programs. More than 38,000 children received educational sponsorships; nearly 2,000 families encountering financial difficulties received money through the emergency relief fund; and about 800 children received medical care through a health insurance sponsorship program.

TFCF’s effort to break the circle of poverty also includes a family development program, a youth capacity building program and a head start program. For more information on TFCF, click here.

Poverty As Told Through Youth Voices

By David Hylton, Public Relations Specialist

Adults can try their best to explain to you how poverty is such a bad thing, but do you really believe what you’re hearing? We can give you the statistics and results from a study, but what does that mean?

To understand poverty and to be moved to take action to fight poverty, you have to hear about it first hand. The quote we left you with earlier today is only a small part of what poverty does to children. Here is how a group of youth in a CCF program in Honduras views poverty.

Wilmer, 15
Poverty is a problem that has been going on for a long time. Poverty is most damaging to young people, leading them to drugs, alcohol and other vices. Poverty is something that has not been controlled in our municipality. We have seen how this situation causes damage to children and youth due to discrimination by not having a roof, food and a decent life for a human being.

Poverty is manifested through malnutrition. Malnutrition is something that has not been controlled due to lack of resources to combat it. Lack of education is another manifestation of poverty in our town. Education is something that can help us reduce the force of poverty, and hence contribute to the development of our region.

Unemployment is also a product of poverty. By not having work, the person responsible for the household is not able to bring food to his or her family

Edgardo, 13
Poverty is a different condition that drives poor people to seek outlets in life. This continues to be the most humiliated condition by society. Poor people live in conditions in which they lack food, housing, clothes and health. By not having the opportunity to have what the rich have, poor people, and most of all young people, seek refuge in gangs and even steal to support their families. Children suffer when they become ill because there is no money to buy medicine.

Poverty is manifested by not having an education because of lack of money. Malnutrition is what most concerns because there is no food. People suffer because of ignorance in their minds, which brands them for life.

Idania, 14
Poverty is one of the things that greatly affects children, young people and adults. It is everywhere and limits the development of the communities. Poverty obstructs education, health and our way of life. Poverty makes you think that you are not the same as the others. Opportunities for the poor are also fewer.

In my municipality you can see that children have no clothes; their food is not good; there is no adequate medicine; there are no jobs; children sell vegetables on the street in order to make some money and not endure hunger; and children are malnourished.

Delmy, 14
I believe that poverty does not allow us to be better – it denies us the opportunity to be better people. It makes us live hungry, with no clothes and no medicine. That makes the non-poor see us as rare and that we don’t belong to society.

Poverty is seen in people that do no have adequate and safe housing. People eat a little so that the rest of the family can eat. Some don’t have the opportunity to learn to read and write. Sometimes people are forced to steal because of the difficult situation.

You Can't Deny the Facts

By David Hylton, Public Relations Specialist

Poverty is a global problem affecting billions of people. In 2002, Christian Children’s Fund conducted a comprehensive study on the experience and impact of poverty on children and youth.

As part of Blog Action Day, we wanted to share with you the major findings of the study. Later today we will share with you stories from children and youth detailing how poverty impacts them. Then we’ll close out the day with a post on our thoughts on how to combat poverty.

Here are the key findings from the 2002 study:
* Children understand poverty as a deeply physical, emotional and social experience. Many children in CCF programs prioritize the psychological and social experience of poverty, such as humiliation, as being more significant than any material deprivation.

* Children are more sensitive to and affected by poverty than adults realize. Children are aware of poverty’s divisive nature and feel its effects in terms of changing and constraining their relationships with family and friends.

* Children experience poverty as a continuously changing condition. This is due to the interaction of several processes at the personal, family, communal and structural level. For example, during times of conflict, distinctions such as those based on gender and ethnicity often grow for children who feel the least valued. “You feel lonely, you feel ashamed,” a 16-year-old girl from Kenya said during the study.

* Children are active contributors to their own well-being. In most circumstances, children do have options and make choices that impact their situation.

* Lastly, the range of experiences felt by children in poverty can be classified into three interrelated dimensions: deprivation (lack of essential material conditions), exclusion (on the basis of age, gender, class, etc.) and vulnerability (with regard to the changing array of threats in their environments).

To understand how poverty affects children, you have to hear it directly from those impacted. While the CCF study was taking place, here’s what one 17-year-old girl said: “Poverty means unequal relationships with others. If you are poor, you suffer from stigma. Others look at you in a certain way like you’re worthless. Feeling unimportant: No one will listen to me, no one cares for me … I’m poor, I don’t count, I’m a piece of dirt.”

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Blog Action Day, Here We Come

By David Hylton, Public Relations Specialist

“Poverty isn’t something you can fully convey in a photo,” says Christian Children’s Fund President and CEO Anne Goddard. “It is overwhelming. It is massive.”

In an attempt to more fully convey the impact of poverty, CCF will join Internet bloggers worldwide on Oct. 15 to take part in Blog Action Day.

Blog Action Day is a nonprofit event started by volunteers in 2007 to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters to post blog entries about the same issue on the same day. Last year more than 20,000 blogs participated in the event, which focused on the environment. This year’s theme focuses on poverty, which is an issue CCF tackles every day.

We’ll share with you details of a CCF poverty study from a few years ago, but the big highlight will be how the world’s youth view poverty.

For more information on visit Blog Action Day.