ChildFund New Zealand’s Fiona tells us why sponsorship is only the beginning of a challenging journey for families and communities.

Children at the Entaratoi Early Childhood Care and Development Centre, Kenya

By Fiona Macfarlane, Impact Analyst

I have recently had the exciting, and often frustrating, experience of building a house. Seeing the floor go down, the frames go up, and the roof finally going on is really thrilling. And this is just one house for two people – imagine how much it means to children who don’t have access to pre-school education to see a whole classroom unit built!

Education is often identified by communities in developing countries as a priority, and families may even donate land for the school grounds. Parents want the very best for their children, and they recognise that education is fundamental for building a stronger, more resilient community.

My own experience of building a house has shown me the complexities involved in construction – council delays, legal and financial issues, dealing with various utility companies, all of which take time and money, plus of course constant weather delays! But in communities such as Emali in Kenya, building a school has its own set of difficulties. Inflation can significantly increase the cost of projects in a very short space of time; local businesses might not have the necessary skills to construct buildings; materials may have to be transported across long, unsealed roads; insect infestations can occur…

Building infrastructure in a poor community is difficult and time-consuming. There are no quick fixes, which all makes it even more incredible that our ChildFund partners in developing countries achieve the wonderful things that they do with the money of sponsors from New Zealand.

In Emali, ChildFund has built four primary school classrooms and two early childhood education centres, and provided other education centres with water tanks, toilets, books, swings and teaching materials. This gives children access to clean drinking water, a safe place to learn where they are protected from the elements and wild animals, and the materials for them to obtain a good education.

Development isn’t quick, and it isn’t easy; receiving money from sponsors is just the first step, after which there are many challenges to overcome. It takes time to bring good change for communities that is sustainable in the long-term, but we are achieving great things for children in need. That’s why ChildFund New Zealand is still at it 21 years on!

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