After beginning work in China in 1938, ChildFund is now one of the world’s oldest child-focused development organisations.

Dr Verent MillsCCF's overseas director Dr Verent Mills with children in China

ChildFund (or China’s Children Fund as it was known then) was started by an American humanitarian, Dr J. Calvitt Clarke. In 1937, Japan’s invasion of China resulted in the second Sino-Japanese War in Asia. Amidst reports of widespread devastation and the displacement of millions of families and children, Dr Clarke decided he needed to take action to support the relief effort.

From his home in Richmond, Virginia, and with the support of wife Helen, Dr Clarke launched a nationwide appeal in the US for funds for displaced children in China. Despite being in the midst of the Depression, and using his own money for stationary and postage, Dr Clarke found enough willing supporters to enable him to establish China’s Children Fund (CCF) in 1938, sending the organisation’s first contribution, US$2,000, to support local initiatives in China.

Dr. Clarke continued to write and appeal for assistance and, by the end of 1939, CCF had sent a total of US$13,000 to support the KuKong orphanage and a school in China.

Dr Clarke and wife Helen receiving Ribbon of HonorDr Clarke, and wife Helen, receiving the the Ribbon of Honor South Korea President Syngman Rhee

Fast forward 75 years, and CCF has transformed into the ChildFund Alliance, a global network of 12 organisations assisting more than 15 million children and families in 58 countries.

To celebrate this historic anniversary, representatives from each ChildFund member, as well as every National Office director, will come together in November 2013. Meeting in Bangkok, it will be the first time that such a global meeting has taken place, with representatives from more than 65 countries.

ChildFund New Zealand CEO Paul Brown, who will be in attendance says: “This past decade has seen ChildFund New Zealand mature from a mere conduit for funds to a development organisation committed to breaking the cycle of poverty in communities. Our most important decade however is arguably the one ahead of us.

Rather than see these technological and social developments as risks and burdens on our resources, we can view them as opportunities to help remote communities interact with the world in ways that make them seem much less remote, that bring greater empathy and compassion. We can give communities not just a voice, but ensure they are part of the global conversation.

And it is exciting and a privilege to be part of an Alliance that is leading this conversation.”

75 years – An Overview:

  • 1938: China Children’s Fund (CCF) established to help children devastated by the Sino-Japanese war. First donations used to support a school and the KuKong orphanage
  • 1941: CCF implements a child sponsorship program – enabling sponsors to donate funds to support one child.
  • 1946-47: CCF’s work grows to include the Philippines, Burma, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Borneo and India. Following world war II, CCF also expands its operations to children in Europe. CCF focuses on education, food and shelter for children, particularly those children displaced and orphaned by war.
  • 1951: To recognise the global nature of the organisation, the CCF acronym is changed to represent Christian Children’s Fund. Work also commences in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and South Korea.
  • 1960: A change in philosophy begins, with CCF focusing on providing assistance to children through family support. The ‘family helper program’ starts to replace assistance for children in orphanages as the main program approach. Work expands to Taiwan and Brazil. CCF Canada is established.
  • 1967: CCF makes another shift in its work to ensure that local programs are led by local leaders whenever possible.
  • 1973: CCF ends its work in Europe and the Middle-East to give greater concentration to Africa, starting in Kenya. CCF Denmark is established, shortly followed by other new CCF members Germany, UK and others.
  • 1990s: CCF begins to play a greater role in delivering humanitarian support during disasters, specialising in Child Centred-Spaces, which provide safe places for displaced children during an emergency. World alliance of CCFs is formed including in New Zealand.
  • 2000: Global research on child poverty gives added emphasis to CCF’s community development program approach and completes the move away from the family helper model.
  • 2003: ChildFund New Zealand begins work with Partner Country Sri Lanka
  • 2005: ChildFund New Zealand begins work with Partner Country Kenya
  • 2005: ChildFund Alliance is formalised with 12 global members – USA, Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Sweden and Taiwan.
  • 2006: ChildFund New Zealand begins work with Partner Country Timor Leste
  • 2007: ChildFund New Zealand begins work with Partner Country Zambia
  • 2008: ChildFund New Zealand begins work with Partner Country Vietnam


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