Although Richmond might be the state capital of Virginia, ChildFund is what has put the city on the map—literally. In its 75 years, the international child-focused development and protection agency has touched 100 nations across Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe and currently serves children in 30 countries.
Since its creation in 1938, the idea behind ChildFund has been simple simple: Create a link between those who want to give and children in need.
After its founding as China’s Children Fund, the organization then began to expand to other countries and for decades was known as the Christian Children’s Fund. (You may remember TV advertisements that urged viewers to sponsor a child living in poverty.)
Although ChildFund International (www.childfund.org), as the organization is known today, maintains the individual sponsor-to-child relationship, its approach has broadened to include community development. To this end, ChildFund pools the sponsor funds to improve the community environments where children live. Diverse donors allow the organization to expand its reach and work for the children.
Over the years, ChildFund has learned that children need compassionate caregivers, health care, nutrition, clean water, sanitation, education, opportunity and safety. If even one of these is missing from a child’s immediate environment, that child’s potential will remain out of reach.
While we know that at every age, children have unique gifts to offer their communities, it follows that the first few years of a child’s life are the most important. During this time, say experts, a child’s future development is laid out, and disruptions have lifelong consequences.
For instance, children’s experience of poverty differs from that of adults, and that experience changes as they grow from infancy to childhood to adolescence and young adulthood.
In this way, locally owned change is the most sustainable. When community members join hands to create an environment in which children can thrive, children do.
To support this dynamic, ChildFund has mobilized a global network of relationships, connecting children, sponsors, parents, teachers, community members and leaders, local organizations, schools, local and national governments, foundations, corporations and more.
What cannot be measured is how many children ChildFund has helped, because so many of the children who have been helped by this organization have paid it forward by helping others. Monica, for example, was once a sponsored child in Ecuador. She has since earned a degree in finance and now manages her community’s credit union and helps many families.
Thanks to wonderful supporters, these sponsored children have grown up to change more children’s lives.