Playing sport isn’t just good for our physical health. It can also be an important tool in developing confidence, leadership and life skills. That’s why at ChildFund, we believe in the power of sport to change children’s lives.
Seventeen-year-old Na (pictured above), is a high school student and a rugby coach with the Lao Rugby Federation. She joined thePass It Back program in 2015 after being encouraged by friends.
“At the beginning I wasn’t interested in playing rugby,” says Na. “But when I started playing, it was so much fun as well as challenging. Since then, I’ve been playing rugby seriously.”
In the early days, Na said one of her friends asked: “You are a girl and not as strong as boys, so how can you play rugby and coach others?” This was an opportunity to Na to explain that girls have the same rights to play sport, and the same abilities.
Na says: “I believe that everyone has unlimited ability. If we have a strong intention to develop ourselves, we can make it happen.”
After spending four months as a rugby player, Na applied to become a coach with the Lao Rugby Federation (LRF). Because of her outstanding performance, Na is now a coach for three youth rugby teams in Xieng Khouang Province in northern Laos.
Na says the Pass It Back program has taught her a great deal. She has strong leadership skills and the ability to set goals; these are tools that she can apply to her life off the rugby. Na explains: “When my parents are not at home, I have the confidence to make decisions and face and solve problems by myself.”
One of her goals is to complete her higher education. Na hopes to continue working as a rugby coach while she finishes her university course.
Na is also keen to share her newfound skills, saying she wants to “transfer all my knowledge to other children in my community”.
Children’s vulnerability to economic exploitation and physical or sexual abuse increases during emergencies. According to 2016 International Labor Organization estimates, 4.3 million children are engaged in forced labour worldwide and one million are victims of commercial sexual exploitation.
Thousands of children are killed or injured every year by explosive weapons and landmines. Nearly one million children are affected by the presence of dangerous landmines that also limit their access to essential services, and one in four landmine victims are children, according to a report by The Child Protection Working Group.
Funding for child protection, however, is alarmingly limited. Child protection receives an average share of only 0.5% of total humanitarian funding, which totaled $27.3 billion in 2017. In 2018, less than $4.50 was spent per child in need of protection for the whole year. The lack of resources for child protection puts children’s survival and development at risk.
ChildFund and CPHA
ChildFund Alliance is committed to supporting the rights of children during humanitarian crises. The Alliance prioritises both short- and long-term child protection in its responses to emergencies. In humanitarian crises such as floods, earthquakes, conflicts, or pandemics, our response addresses the needs as expressed in the standards established to provide protection for children. In addition to addressing the effects of disasters, our prevention work focuses on reducing and mitigating disaster risk for children. ChildFund Alliance supports children and communities before, during, and after crisis through:
Providing safe spaces for children
Working to strengthen the child protection systems
Provision of food and life savings services
Child and youth-led development
Disaster risk reduction activities
Child- and youth-focused preparedness
Participating and coordinating with external coalitions, committees, networks and working groups specialising in children in humanitarian actions, such as the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action
Returning to community development during the reconstruction phase
Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)
ChildFund’s Disaster Risk Reduction strategy aims to:
Support members in mapping child protection risks and existing local child protection mechanisms
Provide a member-accessible tool box that is available for adaptation across contexts and existing programs (accompanied by training and materials)
Create a platform for sharing information among members
Adapt the Child-friendly Accountability model to engage youth in safe DRR strategies at the community level
Promote meaningful youth leadership and engagement in community-level DRR processes.
The Alliance established a Task Force on Child Protection in Humanitarian Action (CPHA) and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in July 2017. The Task Force is a cross-functional group comprising staff across Alliance members who have expertise and specialisation in child protection in humanitarian actions, emergencies and programs. The role of the Task Force is to provide guidance and coordination to support the CPHA & DRR objectives and activities of the Alliance.
Current CPHA Work Child Protection and COVID-19
Currently, ChildFund Alliance members are supporting children and communities in the wake of the global COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic has resulted in millions of infections, hundreds of thousands of deaths, and social and economic disruption worldwide. It is especially dangerous for children and families living in fragile economies. As millions of jobs are lost, the cost of food and necessities rise, and our overburdened health systems struggle to treat the infected, millions of children will suffer from poverty, violence, and exploitation.
During this unprecedented time, ChildFund launched Forward Strong: COVID-19 Response Plan, which outlines life-changing services and resources to support children in the more than 60 countries where we work. ChildFund’s COVID-19 response plan focuses on:
1.Stopping COVID-19 from infecting children and families. 2. Ensuring children get the food they need. 3. Keeping children safe from violence. 4. Helping children continue their learning.
The Alliance’s CPHA & DRR Task Force, in collaboration with our Country Offices, aim to increase comprehensive child protection programs across ChildFund Alliance to address the risks to children and the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 recovery phase.