Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

I have worked for ChildFund Australia for more than 15 years – the past 12 of those managing our Sponsor Relations department – and probably the most common question I have been asked over the years is, how do we select children for child sponsorship?

Interestingly enough, the answer isn’t that complicated. When ChildFund commences a relationship with a community, there is a set of criteria for enrolling children into the sponsorship program. Local staff and parent committees use this criteria to select children and families who are most in need of assistance. Beyond all criteria, one fundamental ethos is present: children cannot be discriminated against based on religion, gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, language, sexual orientation, disability or political conviction.

Examples of some of the criteria could be:

  • Location – is the family in an accessible area?
  • Economic need – on a country, regional and community level, ChildFund field staff must assess what the average need is for a community and seek out families that fall below that level
  • Age – generally, younger rather than older children will be enrolled, with the most needy in the community enrolled first. Children are eligible for enrolment from birth to the age of 12 years.

I will add that one of the most important things to remember when talking about child sponsorship is that those children who are not enrolled are still assisted. Sponsorship funds are pooled to help meet the individual and group needs of all children in the program area. Combining sponsorship funds means large-scale projects can be undertaken, such as the installation of water systems, the construction of school facilities and comprehensive immunisation programs, which will benefit all children in the community.

We also undertake monitoring trips each year to evaluate our sponsorship programs and conduct training with our field staff. The photo above was taken when my colleague Sarah and I were visiting a project in Ecuador. Of course, the best part is getting to meet the kids!

ChildFund has delivered a range of medical equipment to rural health clinics in Papua New Guinea. Presentation of the equipment was made at Kwikila health clinic, an hour and a half from Port Moresby. The clinic currently operates an outpatient and children’s ward, and plans are under way for a maternity clinic to be established.

The equipment includes baby-weighing scales, fetal scopes, thermometers, tape measures and malaria rapid testing kits, and will be used by rural clinics and aid posts throughout Rigo District, Central Province.

The delivery of the equipment is part of a wider healthcare program being implemented by ChildFund to improve maternal and child health in the area. ChildFund has also trained a number of village health volunteers to help raise awareness of healthcare issues in their communities, such as symptoms of childhood illness, and provide healthcare information and referrals.

ChildFund PNG program manager Manish Joshi says that since ChildFund began working in the area, there have been improvements in child health, including a decrease in cases of malnutrition. “It has improved in part because we have trained the village health volunteers who also carry out awareness on such issues, which has been a big help to us.”

Country director Andrew Ikupu emphasised the importance of partnership, noting that government health workers and communities needed to work together with ChildFund to deliver effective health services.

Another delivery of equipment will be made to health clinics in Gulf Province in the coming weeks.