Celebrating ChildFund’s 21 years in New Zealand this June, our staff posts continue with our Programmes Manager who regularly meets the children and families New Zealanders support.Michael & Sri Lankan friend in front of children's statements
By Michael Vujnovich, Programmes Manager

In my role as Programmes Manager for ChildFund New Zealand I am privileged to visit the communities where ChildFund New Zealand focuses its efforts to enable children and their families to get out of poverty. My job is to go there to see how the projects are progressing, to ensure that the poverty-fighting plans we fund are based on the voices of children and that we are really bringing good lasting change.

Recently I travelled to Sri Lanka, to the far east of the island, to an area called Batticaloa. The people here, especially the children, have suffered terribly through typhoons, floods, war, and displacement, their homes and livelihoods destroyed. But these folks are not overcome, they still smile, still have great hopes, especially for their precious children.

This is where we have started a new sponsorship project and we are looking for New Zealanders to support the children and community there.

At the time of the visit the community and ChildFund were in the final stages of planning and I was invited to participate in the final meeting to decide what to do about poverty in the community.

Before this particular meeting there had been nearly 300 meetings in the villages and towns for children’s groups, mothers, and community leaders identifying the issues causing their poverty. And now, finally, all together in one room were health workers, local government decision makers, school headmasters and teachers, new mothers, children and young people and ChildFund staff.

We had all gathered to listen to the views of children and to hear their voices stating their needs and their priorities. The most hopeful and heart warming image I have from all the work I have ever done is from that meeting. It comes from seeing these adults, these movers and shakers, bent at the waist to really hear children explain what they need and want – to hear children, to address their priorities.
Reading what the children have to say
At ChildFund we put the needs of children first. It is their reality that counts. It is children who experience the vulnerability, exclusion and deprivation of poverty the worst.

The value ChildFund adds is that we convert the hard earned funds from our wonderful New Zealand supporters, people who care and give and give, and make those funds work in the right ways to bring children and their surrounding communities out of poverty.

It is a slow and difficult road, there are no quick fixes, but this is the path to real success for children that ChildFund New Zealand has been walking for the last 21 years. The awesome event of seeing children’s voices at the very utter core of our planning and of everything we do gives me, just quietly, a smile of satisfaction.

If you would like to help, please sponsor a child in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka (the Singing Fish project)

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