In Advocacy Hub

By Tessa Teurlings, Lobby & Advocacy Coordinator at Help a Child International

Since 1968, Help a Child (in Dutch: Red een Kind) Christian, international relief and development organization, has been providing a future for children, their families and the entire community. Help a Child’s approach empowers vulnerable communities in areas with a high incidence of poverty or where children and families are extra vulnerable due to disasters or (imminent) conflicts. We work with international and local partners across India, Kenya, Malawi, Burundi, Rwanda, DRC, Uganda, Somalia, and South Sudan. In addition, help a Child is implementing the Child Centered Community Development (CCCD) program in six of these countries.

The Child Centered Community Development (CCCD) program

As an organization with decades of experience working in difficult contexts, we always aim to provide a future for children in need. In 2010, we were looking for an approach that represented our core values-one that was child-focused, long-term, and aimed at the self-reliance of the community. This is how the CCD came into being. It is one of the most successful approaches that Help a Child uses and is currently being implemented in Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, India and Malawi. CCCD is a holistic child-centred program, which means that any CCCD project primarily focuses on the well-being of children. All children in the community should benefit from the care of their parents and their community. This includes education, health services, and care for the social and emotional development of children provided either at home or in the community. The ultimate aim of the CCCD program is to strengthen communities so that the well-being of children is improved sustainably.

The structure of the program

All of the CCCD programs run for 8-9 years because we believe it is important to invest in a community for a substantial amount of time. This gives people the opportunity to grow and become self-reliant towards the end of the program. This kind of long-term approach is made possible by our loyal donors in the Netherlands, ensuring that we can commit to funding the program for this period of time. There are different phases within the 7 years. The first few years focus mostly on assessing what issues are there and setting up strong, group-based support structures within the community. After year 2, there is an acceleration of the activities, and we try to make as much impact as possible. During the final years of the program the focus is on building the self-reliance of the community. Everything is handed over from the local partner to people in the community, so that they can carry on after we leave.

Different elements within CCCD

Although children are at the center of all our work, the community around the child is crucial as well. There are different groups within the community that we focus on, those being children, parents and youth.

For youth, we mostly focus on the issue of employment. In many countries, young people struggle to find decent jobs, especially in rural areas. This is why we focus specifically on AVET (Agricultural Vocational Education and Training) which gives youth the skills and tools to make a profitable business of their farmland. Young people are brought together in self-help groups, where they save money together, and receive agricultural training so they can start their farming business together.

Another crucial part of CCCD is the ‘parenting’ challenge. As the name suggests, this is a training program that supports moms and dads in the raising of their children. Parents are brought together in parenting groups, which enhances the social cohesion of the group. When a safe environment is established, the parents will receive training on a variety of topics, such as the social and emotional development of children, nutrition and child protection. The parents are also encouraged to rely on each other for support, as they are all facing similar issues in raising their children.

The development of young children (ages 0 to 7) is one of our areas of expertise. Within the CCCD program we usually work through Early Childhood Centers. These are spaces where children receive Early Childhood Education (comparable to preschool) to prepare them for primary school. Importantly, it is a safe place where young children can go when their parents are working, and where they often receive a meal. The Early Childhood Centers are also the perfect place for health-related activities, and the centers ensure the involvement of parents in the development of their children. Children in the community are also brought into children’s groups, where they learn specific life skills and they can play together.

The importance of community empowerment

A unique and crucial part of the CCCD programs is the emphasis on community empowerment. As Help a Child, we do not provide the community with financial means, or build schools, water wells or hospitals for them. Instead, we give them the training and tools they need to start saving money themselves. Members of the community form self-help groups in which they save money together. Later, they can take loans from the group to fund any important purchase for which they do not have the means. When the needs are particularly high, we will link the community to other organizations or government agencies that will provide these services. Other times, we help groups or individuals with access to capital or loans. In order to make sure that everything we do enjoys the support of the community, they are involved in the design of the program right from the start. Over the years, we have noticed the benefits of this approach. Treating people with respect, giving them agency and supporting them to reach their own goals proves to be highly effective. Even after the CCCD programs are phased out, the activities continue because the community feels a high degree of ownership. In this way, the improvements that are made in the lives of children are sustainable and impactful.

Photo @Serrah Galos

Photo @Jeroen van Loon



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