CHILD FUND SPONSORSHIP AND COMMUNICATION MANAGER ON THE ORGANISATION’S MISSION AND IMPACT

With Rohey Jadama

In today’s edition of future Generation, we have decided to focus on the Mr. DaboSponsorship and Communication Manager of Child Fund International, The Gambia. He will be talking about the mission and the accomplishments of the organization, as well as the impact they had on children and Youths in their communities of intervention.

Foroyaa: Can you introduce your self to our readers?

Mr.Dabo: My name is Nfamara Dabo and I am the Sponsorship and Communication Manager of Child Fund International, The Gambia and also the vice chairman of Board of Directors of Child protection Alliance.

Foroyaa: What is your organization all about and it’s Mission?

Mr. Dabo: Child Fund The Gambia is a Charitable; child development agency headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, USA. The Gambia National Office began operations in 1984 by an act of Parliament and later in the 1990s registered as a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) with The Association of Non Governmental Organizations (TANGO) in The Gambia.   Child Fund the Gambia works with children and their families in partner communities in the West Coast Region of the Country.

Child Fund exists to help deprived, excluded and vulnerable children have the capacity to improve their lives and the opportunity to become young adults, parents and leaders who bring lasting and positive change to their communities. Child Fund promote societies whose individuals and institutions participate in valuing, protecting and advancing the worth and rights of children.

Foroyaa: What are your activities and what strategies do you use to implement those activities?

Mr. Dabo: Child Fund’s Distinctive Approach focuses on working with children throughout their journey from birth to young adulthood, as well as with families, facilitators, local organizations and communities to create the environments children need to thrive to get healthy and secure, get smart and change the world. Child Fund holds itself accountable to clearly defined core outcomes which are interconnected and essential to achieving measurable impact we strive for on a daily basis for children.

Child Fund Core Outcomes

1: Positive outcomes for children in every stage of their lives, from infancy to young adulthood.

2: Strong networks of families and local organizations that provide a supportive environment for children to develop.

3:   A broad constituency at national and global levels to champion for the overall well-being of children.

Foroyaa: How does your organization get its funding?

Mr. Dabo: We partner with Action aid international and Catholic Relief Services for the child sponsorship. We also solicit for grant from donors.

Foroyaa: Do you partner with other organizations?

Mr. Dabo: Child Fund the Gambia currently works through six legally registered Community Based Organizations (CBOs) namely Saama sang Federation, Kaira Nyining Federation, Kombo North Federation, Kaira Sub Federation, Eastern Foni Federation and Ding Ding Bantaba Federation, providing services to over 20, 165 enrolled children out of which 14, 100 children are sponsored from 7,431 families. The program coverage reaches about 82, 155 people out of a total population of 392, 987 in West Coast Region. The Federations provide direct services to the children and their families which are categorized into two main types namely education and community-based programs. On an annual basis, Child Fund The Gambia brings in funds to the tune of more than US$2.2m (sponsorship funds otherwise known as subsidy) to support development programs focusing on education, health and nutrition, income generation, early childhood development and emergency work for children and their families. Other types of income include gifts for children otherwise known as DFC’s, Non Sponsorship Funds, and Grants accessed through partnership arrangements with Child Fund The Gambia for development activities in the communities that could not be covered by subsidy.

The affiliated Federations serve as local institutions within the communities they operate. They are structured in such a way that parents constitute the main pillar for the overall responsibility of all project affairs. Every two years, the parent’s assembly selects Board members and charges them with the responsibilities of the overall management of the project on behalf of the project communities. They in-turn employ the services of project staff to implement their goals and objectives, and provide financial management in a bid to address the needs of the children in the communities.

The basic strategy for partnership is the emphasis on community empowerment wherein parents of the enrolled children, as the owners of the projects, are responsible for all the major decisions affecting the management of the programs. This is done to ensure sustainability and encourage participation of the parents, as leaders of the welfare and development of the children.

Increasingly also the children’s voices are beginning to be heard and Child Fund The Gambia has facilitated the formation of children and youth committees as a medium to express their concerns, needs and aspirations on the one hand, participating in development activities among their peers to influence development in their communities as they struggle to cross the hurdles in their own development within their communities.

Foroyaa: What are the accomplishments of your organization?

Mr. Dabo: Over the years of operations Child Fund the Gambia’s main interest was in the welfare of children, notwithstanding other goals alongside this were pursued and categorized into the following achievements:

  1. a) Support to Institutional Development of Government Educational Facilities and Early Childhood Development Centres

Prior to 1990s, Child Fund the Gambia entered the development scene in the West Coast Region and was practically based within Government Primary schools in a bid to reach out to children enrolled in the sponsorship program. Most of the schools were in declining conditions and the funds brought in helped to support the following: infrastructural development, supply of learning materials, and payment of fees for children, care of their health through the provision of first aid treatment and provision of financial support for referrals, and nutrition of children in the school through collaboration with World Food Program (WFP), funding for extra classes for children in examination classes and funding for in house teachers’ training workshops and so on. This intervention at the time uplifted the status of these schools to acceptable levels, which the Department of State for Education later categorized into different grades. The other institutions were the early childhood development Centre’s for which later every program community endeavored to have an ECD component. Child Fund the Gambia funded most of these schools and served as support to institutional development of these educational facilities to supplement Governments efforts. (The list of concerned schools is attached in annex one).

b) Facilitating Community Based Development Initiatives.

The second phase of Child Fund the Gambia intervention from 1996 onwards was the conversion of affiliated projects to community-based programs with concentration on assisting families from which the children came from within the communities. The projects were termed family helper projects or social service centres with broader perspectives in intervention programmed areas such as early childhood development, education, health, nutrition, food security, income generation activities, youth programs and emergencies. This continued to a level for which the communities are being grouped within the Districts in the West Coast Region to complement the decentralized structures of Government into becoming registered community based organizations in their own right. Again Child Fund The Gambia ‘s role is the facilitation of community based development initiatives consonant with National objectives for a vibrant civil society especially in the rural areas to take their own development into their own hands for the benefit of the children, community and the Nation as a whole.

  1. c) Supporting National Development initiatives in specific sectors

Alongside the developments mentioned above, Child Fund The Gambia participated and contributed morally and financially to several initiatives geared towards improving sectoral policy formulation and development such as: Early Childhood Development (ECD) Policy formulation; contribution to public health development initiatives such as immunization campaigns, measles campaigns, meningitis campaign, environmental sanitation campaigns, birth registration campaign, and support to primary health care programs within affiliated communities.

These efforts featured as part of the program intervention areas for which Child Fund the Gambia in 1997 innovatively initiated the baseline survey otherwise known as the Program Management Tool (PMT) to monitor the progress of the assistance rendered to the communities. The problems arise out of which the needs identified form the basis of planning for the Annual Goals and Objectives of each project in order to allocate funds according to agreed budgets by the communities and the National Office. The Annual Impact Monitoring and Evaluation System (AIMES) records progress in various intervention areas such Nutrition status, infant mortality rates, number of deaths and their possible causes, immunization coverage, children participation in educational facilities, parents knowledge and some basic health and hygiene activities and so on.

  1. d) Supporting Livelihood Initiatives development of communities

Child Fund the Gambia while in partnership with the affiliated Federations is aware of the issues of sustainability and continuation of services delivered. For this reason, the parent’s participation and contribution was of paramount importance. However, in most instances the poverty levels of families are often a hindrance and a limiting factor. In this regard, income generation activities ranging from family clusters, informal associations, project organized income generation and business ventures such as lodges, juice factory, bee keeping, transportation, agricultural and horticultural activities, sewing and tailoring, animal husbandry, consumer shops are encouraged for the purposes of raising more income to strengthen the service delivery to assist more children in education, health care and nutrition. Families involved in these ventures generate additional income to benefit them in their households. This move otherwise termed as facilitating the creation of wealth within the communities is aimed at promoting Micro Enterprise Development Initiatives within the communities to eventually link up with Macro level initiatives.

Other initiatives although not aimed at wealth creation and business ventures, but part of improving the quality of life included the provision of water systems and points for availability of clean water in the communities, provision of pit latrines within the communities among other things.

  1. e) Partnership and Collaboration with other stakeholders and Government

The support to National Development warrants Child Fund the Gambia not to operate in isolation but to participate with other stakeholders in partnership arrangements and collaborative efforts. These are also in a bid to advocate for the poor communities, act as intermediaries, influence policies and draw attention to the development needs for more input from Government and other stakeholders. In this vein, Child Fund the Gambia since in the year 2000 has had good working relations with the Gambia Government as partners in Development through various lined Departments of Education, Health, Agriculture, Local Government, Community Development and Defence amongst others. In fact most of these departments are represented in the Child Fund the Gambia Advisory Board, for strengthened relations. Some of the most successful partnership with Government Departments includes:

  •  Relations with the Department of Community Development through the Multi Sectoral Working Group on ECD
  •  Child Fund The Gambia has supported the development of the ECD Policy, countrywide ECD advocacy work, and leading in the design of a parenting manual for home based and community based ECD
  •  Relations with Department of state for education ‘s Program Co-ordination Unit in the implementation of the Third Education sector project by erecting school buildings within communities in the West Coast Region in support of increased access for children to educational facilities as part of the Education Policy
  •  Contributions to the Department of State for Health campaigns on immunizations, meningitis, measles
  •  Support to the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital (RVTH) and the President Jammeh Foundation for Peace Hospital.
  •  Support to the National Disaster Relief Committee
  •  Support the National Environmental Cleaning Campaign
  •  Support to the Ministry of Youth and Sports

Success in partnership for Child Fund the Gambia is strategic in the sense that the development agenda is a complex one and together with others in country and outside makes a difference in the lives of the communities, families and children who benefit.

Child Fund The Gambia development strategy focuses on the well being of children and their families. All programming activities revolve around addressing the vital needs of the child. Basic services in health, education, nutrition and early childhood development are provided for the children. In addition income-earning opportunities are created for families of the children to enable them provide leadership in ensuring the well being of their children. These programs for the families work towards the sustainability of the services on the one hand and gradually enabling the parents of the children to take greater responsibility for their children. In short, Child Fund The Gambia, while being a child-focused agency, is also engaged in community development and seeks to empower the communities to realise their potential for a brighter future. Child Fund The Gambia’s strategy is to work towards Child Centered Community Driven Development.

Froryaa: Do you have any challenges, if so what are they?

Mr. Dabo: our only challenge is limited grant acquisition; we need more grants to complement what we are doing.

Foroyaa: Any last Word?

Mr. Dabo: Just to reassured Child Fund continued commitment to the development of children in the Gambia and our doors are open to partner with like minded institutions to promote the rights and welfare of children in the Gambia. We will continue to complement Government’s effort in all development sectors.

Foroyaa: Thank you for your time?

Mr. Dabo: You welcome.