POSTED December 14, 2020
How did the Children Believe family find joy in 2020?
I’ll remember 2020 for the reasons many of you will, but I’ll also reflect happily on virtually meeting Daniella and Bernice, two of our youth ambassadors from Ghana. University-educated, bright, smart and motivated to help, these 20-year-olds left a lasting impression on me.
The young women joined a Board meeting to share how they were coping and thriving through the COVID-19 pandemic. They talked about adjusting to new digital learning tools as well as mentoring children and young people in their community — encouraging them to keep motivated and on course to building bright futures.
Then, Daniella and Bernice boldly challenged our senior leadership and Board to do more. The young women, who noted a recent spike in teenage pregnancies in Ghana, are committed to collaborating further to help their peers access social support and quality education.
It was heartening to see what youth who are empowered to live and dream fearlessly can do when given the right opportunities.
I wasn’t the only one who found unexpected joy amidst the adversity of 2020. The directors in each of our program offices had similar experiences. They shared what they’ll remember fondly about this year…
A special moment at an important event – Ghana
Our director of West Africa, Christelle, was encouraged by support from Ghana’s vice-president. She told me: “I was excited when the Vice-President of Ghana, H.E. Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, accepted to speak virtually at the brand launch of Children Believe in Ghana. He said: “I am hopeful that [the brand change] will bring benefits to children, families and communities, greater than you have ever achieved.”
Working with government to ensure children’s needs are heard – Paraguay
Jorge, our country director in Paraguay, leads a team who have been collaborating with the government to create a national policy and five-year strategy for promoting children’s voices in decision-making at school, in the community and even nationally. The strategy will serve as a national agenda other organizations will use to drive their goals on this topic. It’s expected to be set into motion in 2021.
Trust and support among peer organizations – Burkina Faso
In Burkina Faso, Christelle, our director of West Africa, was “surprised” and “moved” to be approached to lead the Board of Directors of the country’s Permanent Secretariat of NGO/INGOs (SPONG). More than 260 organizations, foundations and more are part of SPONG, which Christelle recently represented at a government event led by the Prime Minister (above). She asked for the government’s support to ensure more international development agencies like ours can deliver services, including education, in the nation where schools have been closed due to attacks by radicals — a challenge for almost five years.
A new game-changing digital app – India
Nancy, our country director in India, shared her joy about Go-care. The android-based application emerged as an unexpected COVID-response tool. Here’s how it’s helping our team do their job…
- it provides information on how to prevent the spread of COVID and raises awareness about how to keep children safe from the virus and exploitation when family income is lost
- it highlights government relief measures — such as free rations and cash transfers — and explains how to access the benefit
- it connects those with mental-health issues to mental-health professionals for timely counselling
Resilient staff and communities – Ethiopia & Nicaragua
As we continue to revisit programming to provide quality support to children families and communities during the pandemic — taking care to assess each country’s differing needs and sensitivities — we are encouraged by the response.
In Ethiopia, our country director, Gutu, explained how the renewed support developed a culture of volunteerism, whereby 250 people were trained to educate the community and ensure children were safe. It also strengthened vital partnerships, growing our focus on child protection during emergencies and our ability to provide medical, financial, psychosocial as well as legal support to children who suffer abuse.
Maria Isabel, who leads our Nicaragua team, was amazed by the creativity, commitment, passion and solidarity shown by staff and local partners who were resilient and flexible, reinventing under pressure. I wholeheartedly agree.
I can only imagine the opportunities ahead in 2021. Until then, I wish you and your family much-deserved joy and peace during the holiday season. Merry Christmas!