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ID: 49391

Cambodia - What a Child Can Do, Capacity Development among Youth

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Organization(s): PEPY (Protect the Earth, Protect Yourself)

Country(ies): Cambodia

Primary thematic focus: Sub-national capacity development: local solutions, national strengths

In a Nutshell:
This case study shares the success of PEPY’s Child to Child Program, an initiative aimed at empowering children and young people to be change-makers in their own communities by identifying, learning about, and taking action on local problems affecting their daily lives.

The Story:
Capacity is development. At PEPY, we’ve seen this truth in both our successes and our failures. After PRA’s in our target areas in 2007, we learned that the education programs we had been doing for the past two years simply weren’t doing enough to build capacity. As such, our achievements weren’t having any lasting impact. With the leadership of a Cambodian Director who had learned about Child to Child in the UK, PEPY began focusing on capacity, specifically with regards to life skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, and self-confidence among children.

The Child to Child Program began in March 2008, with 250 children in village-based clubs. Based in the belief that children have the ability to significantly impact the livelihoods of their families the Child the Child methodology uses a participatory, child-driven 6 step approach. First, children come together and perform a simple needs assessment of their village, sharing what makes them happy at home and at school, what makes them sad, and then deciding which problems are prevalent in their community, which are serious for them and their families, and which they have ability to impact. Through the course of their meetings, they are led by PEPY employed facilitators, selected among highly educated young adults from within the surrounding communities who are then trained in active-learning and participatory techniques.

After selecting a topic from the top of their priority list, the club spends the next 2-3 months learning about their problem, finding out what the situation is like within their community, planning some kind of action related to solving the problem, evaluating their action and acting again where needed. The process is beautifully simple and predominately child driven, with club leaders taking as much as a role as possible and the hired “facilitators” helping to prepare activities and help children learn more, but leading in large part from behind. In a recent topic on the importance of clean water, several clubs organized a campaign through all 11 villages of their commune. Marching with banners and a rusty microphone strapped to a bicycle, they cheered in a semblance of unified response to their 14 year old leader. “Clean water makes us healthy. Is it so?” “That’s right!” “What do we want?” “We want good hygiene!” At points along the way, the club members walked into different households to explain their messages. Their hand-drawn brochures shared simple messages about the importance of water filters, not drinking directly from the fields, or boiling water that might be contaminated.

Though the goal for this campaign is ostensibly educating the community about the importance of clean water, like much of the work we do in Child Clubs the action-oriented result is only the showpiece. Actual changes have come along the way. As children go through the process of learning about specific problems in their village and finding ways of taking action to change them, small changes happen each day. They take place when children ask their younger siblings whether they washed their hands before dinner. They take place when parents see their child coming home each Sunday showing pictures about clean water and begin thinking about purchasing a ceramic water filter. They take place when the children who drink directly from the pump or the fields are chided by their peers. Through Child to Child we hope that the children participating recognize, through the clubs and club campaigns and actions, their own power to make a difference in their families and communities.

Results and Critical Factors:
In the two years since the start of this program we have seen significant changes among children. Imagine a 13 year old finding materials for and constructing a basic toilet for his family behind his rice fields, telling his mother and father that it is important that they use this to take care of the health of their family. Or a 12 year old starting a study club in his village, aimed at helping weak students in grades below learn math and literacy skills. These are just a few of the regular accomplishments resulting from Child to Child. 10 backyard toilets. 11 village-based study clubs. Dozens of families where a child has encouraged the purchase of a water filter. Child-driven marches through an entire commune related to the importance of clean water. Puppet shows and plays spreading messages about how to create oral rehydration salts or prevent lung disease. Importantly, the evaluation of any campaign is done by the club itself, meaning the children are active participants in trying to gauge how effective their learning and action has been at changing attitudes and actions within their community.

Where an action hasn’t been effective, the club brainstorms additional strategies that could increase efficacy. The most critical success factors for this program have been finding and training successful facilitators, and their use of active-learning techniques and participatory methods aimed at encouraging critical and creative thinking, teamwork, reflection, and good communication. The most successful clubs are those where educators, trained by PEPY and the Child to Child Trust, consistently let children run the show, building the confidence of child leaders and ensuring that children, not educators have ownership over clubs. As children have learned that their voice can be effective within their club, their household and their community, their engagement and interest in trying to effect change in their village has grown.

Name of Primary Contact Person: Maryann Bylander

Title of Primary Contact Person: Managing Director

City: Siem Reap

File: C2C Club Flier.pdf

Image: c2ccollageupdate.jpg

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