ChildLink: helping communities become self sufficient

Jun 2018

ChildLink: helping communities become self sufficient

Above: On my visit to Nepal I was inspired by the dedicated medical staff who tirelessly serve their community. Santosh, to my left, is a medical student who helps out at the hospital.

Thank you from our ceo,
pri fernando.

Dear Friends, 

I am excited to be able to share with you what your generous involvement with INA is achieving! This year I have had the privilege of visiting Uganda with Missy Lancaster, then went on a brief trip to Sri Lanka, and most recently saw Nepal for the first time.
I have never felt as inspired, challenged and motivated as I do right now. I wish every one of you could have been on the trips with me to see the strength and resilience of the people I met, and the power of the work that we are accomplishing with your help.
ChildLink: helping communities become self sufficient
For 40 years now INA has been running our ChildLink program; it is a vital part of our work on the field and such a wonderful way of giving you, our donor, an understanding of the people and communities we are helping.
Like most programs that have had the span of so many years, there has been a bit of change in how it is run; every change to the betterment of the work and the beneficiaries.
In the 70s and 80s, the idea of child sponsorship dramatically changed the face of international development and how many agencies operated, and as a result, many children were individually educated as they were chosen and invited to connect with sponsors. The problem, however, was that many in the local communities were excluded from the program.
This approach, while appropriate at the time, rarely helped families rise out of extreme poverty, and often the educated child would leave the village in search of employment. Other family members remained living in poverty, without opportunity, through no fault of their own.
Teaching people to fish; a hand-up, not a hand-out
Now, we know that it is far more important to teach people to fish, rather than just giving them fish to eat. We want to create long term positive and sustainable impact so that the change in the communities will be seen and celebrated for years to come.
Our refocussed ChildLink program is now, more than ever, about ensuring our Linked children have access to education and are protected and cared for, but also making sure that all children and families in the community can benefit. We are empowering families to create dependable livelihoods for improved income so that they can have self-dignity and respect in educating all children rather than a few.
Our constant attention here at INA is making sure that your donations are helping the communities and the Linked children improve their living standards, access education and achieve the goals that the communities themselves have set out to reach.
We are seeing such a positive response from the field, and the families who benefit are celebrating this approach. The support you are giving leverages a far more positive impact, including the Linked child, and I want to take this opportunity to thank you for supporting INA in this important and life-changing transformation.
ChildLink is unique and showing incredible results
The elements of the ChildLink program varies slightly depending on the country and community context, but the end result is always children educated and protected, and communities empowered.
In Uganda we do this through supporting whole communities access quality education for all children in schools run by International Needs Uganda. In the Philippines and Sri Lanka we achieve this by community owned savings and loan schemes and Self-Help Groups.
In addition, Child protection is critical in contexts where child abuse is prevalent and access to health is also critical for child well-being. Both these aspects are also being addressed though Community Child Protection Groups of parents and regular health checks and health missions.
The new approach is based on working with the communities themselves to address the primary causes of poverty in the community; improving access to education and healthcare, establishing protections for the most vulnerable children, empowering families to become financially self-sufficient, providing spiritual nurturing and valued-based education.  The Linked children benefit and represent their communities, while all children play a role in the program.
The fantastic transformation from the sponsorship of old to seeing whole communities being empowered is truly amazing and a great witness to the unconditional love of Christ to the vulnerable.
The Linked child is central to supporting the rest of the family and the wider community and we encourage you to see the great impact your support is achieving more than just assisting one child. The name of our program, ChildLink, symbolises the linking of the child, the family and the community to all the necessities of life so that they can all have the dignity and opportunity to achieve their full potential.
This will enable communities to be self-reliant within 5-10 years and have the respect and equality that they deserve as our fellow human beings.
We thank God for all those of you who are walking with us on this exciting journey enabling this transformation on the ground.


Above: My visit with the IN Uganda team showed me just how effective the ChildLink program is. Here is the dedicated team of teachers at the INA supported school with myself and Rev Justus Miwanda.

Above: Children in the ChildLink program as well as other children in the community in Uganda receive an education.

The INA Story