Friends-International (FI) is an International NGO founded in Cambodia in 1994 and registered in France on July 19, 1995. FI has initiated programs working with street children and youth in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Indonesia, developed its activities to support and train other organizations working with street children in Honduras, Mexico, Philippines and Egypt and advocated the issue of street children on the international scene.
Friends has become a leader in the field of child protection and a source for the global media, online forums and debates and international networks on the issue of street children and the multiple risk they are faced with on a daily basis. Friends-International has strongly advocated for the rights of children through social media, at multi-national functions and influenced national policy by working closely with Government in the countries Friends operates. Friends have also conducted in-depth research on the street children phenomenon in Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Indonesia. Friends has furthermore doubled its impact by creating and facilitating networks of child protection organizations across the globe and developing international campaigns, annually reaching millions of people worldwide.
The ChildSafe Network Project addresses the theme of AGFUND Prize, since its beneficiaries are children living or working on the streets. The project is also in line with AGFUND’s priorities by working closely with the Royal Cambodian Government through project implementation. Since its inception in Cambodia, Friends has collaborated with the Royal Cambodian Government (RCG), especially the Ministry of Social Welfare, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY). This has allowed Friends to provide on-site training to government staff, advocate for the rights of children at the national level and influence government’s effort to establish a national system for child protection. Capacity building of local authorities (in particular the Department of Social Welfare, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation, Commune Council for Women and Children, local police and village chiefs) through child protection and ChildSafe training resulted in enhanced local child protection.
By building a nationwide street-based network, comprising of local members who are trained to recognize and respond to children in dangerous situations, the project directly benefitted street children. The network not only provides immediate protection to children on the streets, but offers them alternatives to street life by referring them to relevant services provided by Friends-International, its partner organizations and the Government, including education, vocational training and family reintegration. Through a holistic service provision, Friends-International and its project partners supported thousands of vulnerable children in Cambodia and help them rebuild their lives off the streets. They also influence government in building a more protective environment for vulnerable children.
The project overall objective(s): To contribute to the overall reduction of all forms of abuse against children and youth and promote the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Cambodia through the development of a child protection initiative.
Specific objective: To sustainably build the capacity of civil society to promote the rights of children, identify risk factors leading to child abuse and to empower communities and visitors to Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville and Kampong Cham to safe guard young people from all forms of abuse.
The cornerstones of The ChildSafe Network Project were to strengthen the role of Government, private sector, communities and civil society in protecting children and youth on the streets as well as supporting international and regional frameworks which aim to promote children’s rights.
The target beneficiaries of the project are:
2500 parents and key community members:
1550 ChildSafe Network members
120 tourism professionals
30% of international travelers to Cambodia
250 local authority members
The ChildSafe Network is the only one of its kind in Cambodia and has attracted widespread support across the country. The innovative and large-scale strategy makes Friends-International a unique provider of social services in Cambodia and The ChildSafe Network is an important extension to the comprehensive services provided by Friends-International and partner organizations. The approach addressed child protection in an effective way by directly training key members on the streets and in communities where children are at risk of abuse, neglect and exploitation. By involving a diverse mix of public and private stakeholders (government partners from Ministry level to village level, NGOs, business partners and community members), and providing them with training on how to protect children, the project took a unique approach to developing a child protection network in Cambodia.
Together with a high-profile international information campaign, ChildSafe Traveller Tips, community events, social media and newspapers, the project engaged the public and international travellers in child protection and prevention and empowered communities to protect children. Instead of solely relying on NGO services, the communities themselves became child protection agents, watching out for children in dangerous situations, day and night.
An innovative aspect of the project is also how local authorities were engaged in the implementation of the project as they became key child protection actors themselves. The project worked closely with the national Government to build their capacity to eventually manage project activities. The ChildSafe Network presence acts as a deterrent but also as a reminder to communities that effective protection doesn’t come from one organization but from concerned members of society who are the eyes and ears on the streets. The engagement of local actors created a culture of sustainability, demonstrated when local society consciously responds to the needs of at-risk or abused children in a natural and positive manner.
AGFUND PRIZE EVALUATORS’ COMMENTS:
Dr. Deisi Noeli Weber Kusztra.
The ChildSafe Network Project as an European Commission funded project, was implemented by Friends-International and its partners, Mith Samlanh and Mlop Tapang, for a period of two years (2008 – 2010) in Cambodia and its activities were located in the cities of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Kampong Cham and Sihanoukville.
The main objective of the Project was to reduce of all forms of abuse against children and youth and to promote the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Cambodia, through the development of a child protection initiative.
The cornerstone of its activities was based in a creation of a community and a street-based child protection network, providing its members with a comprehensive training to be aware of child protection issues and to identify, respond and promptly assist children at risk and the ones suffering all forms of abuse and violence.
The logistics infrastructure settled by the network is very impressing and definitively was built with a very comprehensive outreach including all local authorities and local actors forming an efficient chain able to act in a coordinated manner looking forward the best results. It’s worth to point out that the mentioned chain of actors also included the local leaders and local business such as hotels, restaurants, taxis, tok-toks, tour guides, street vendors, travel agencies and airports workers.
In a formal relationship with the Royal Cambodia Government the project also counted with the support and close collaboration for referrals of the local police, the local governmental services for psychosocial support, medical assistance, remedial education and vocational training.
Apart from strong training components, the project also offered services of shelter and an emergency center for children who needed immediate support and an anonymous 24 hour telephone hotline.
The international visitors to Cambodia were not forgotten. Through several media campaign, visitors were aware of the actions done in the country to protect the children rights and invited to join the efforts.
The target audience of the project was key community members, the network members, the local authorities, the tourism professionals, and also the international travelers to Cambodia. But the final beneficiaries were the street living children, the street working children, street families and children at risk. The most impressing strategy that definitively add a lot of influence on the positive results of the project was the manner that the partners and members became active within the project by being appropriated identified, trained and certified as a capable agent to promote and protect the children rights in Cambodia.
1. Innovative ways with which the project relates to AGFUND mission, values and objectives.Evaluation
The ChildSafe Network Project, definitively is related to the AGFUND mission, values and objectives and utilizes many innovative ways to reach its final objective of protecting children’s best interest such as building a street-based network, including all key actors of society on its training program and also including the international visitors to Cambodia on the awareness campaign, letting them know that the rights of children in Cambodia is protected and looked for.
2. Contribution of project design to efficient and effective management and to the fulfillment of project objectives.
The project design as a whole was done by the implementing agency with the two main partners. But the design of the activities and the contains of the training were strongly influenced by the final beneficiaries, children and youth, through regular needs assessments conducted with them on the streets and in drop-in centers. In order to guarantee efficient and effective management to achieve the project objectives, standard of procedures (SoPs) were design for all activities and administration and all the staff and members of the network were trained to appropriate utilize these instruments. Periodic monitoring and evaluation of all activities and administrative tasks were conducted with the following discussions on the findings with the respective teams.
3. Degree of relevance of project objectives to the theme of the Prize.
Network Project objectives are highly relevant to the theme of the Prize because in a very comprehensive way is supporting a developing country to implement policies and services at national and local level to fight the phenomenon of street children.
4. Project impact in terms of types of services provided, new concepts advocated and information dissemination.
The most significant impact of the project is the “life-saving” immediate support given by a wide chain of capacitated actors when children and youth are found in dangerous situation by providing professional and appropriate assistance through emergency services, telephone hotline, specialized referrals and after- care support by promoting family reintegration, drugs rehabilitation and remedial education.
5. Targeting relevant beneficiaries and facility of their access to project’s benefits and services.
The project is definitively reaching all the intended relevant beneficiaries.The comprehensive capacity building activities are being delivered to the street-based working members, the partners, the local actors, the local authorities, the government staff. And the appropriated life-saving actions resulting of the capacity building is being delivered to the final beneficiaries, the street children and youth.
6. Project transferability or adaptability to other areas/ countries. Evaluation Points – 10
The project ChildSafe Network is very well design, tested and implemented already in a few countries and communities with diverse economic situation and cultural backgrounds. The strategies used allows to create a diverse range of activities and services that can be easily adapted to
specific issues, available services, laws and regulations of each targeted country or area. Definitively the project can be replicated anywhere in the world.
7. Efficiency of financial management and resource utilization.
The project document includes a report of factual findings for the period of the project implementation with a very detailed commented financial report and independent auditing. To secure transparency and accountability the project developed Standards of Procedures (SoPs) for all financial activities and they were used to manage, monitor and evaluate the budget execution and the financial reports for the donor. The conclusion of the mentioned report are very positive and conclusive, the project was implemented in time and according to the financial rules.
8. Fulfillment of project objectives.
The project fulfilled in a very efficient and effective manner all its proposed objectives.
9. Sustainability of project activities, benefits and services.
To ensure sustainability the project teams worked closely with the government and with the local authorities. There is no information if after the time the project was terminated, the Royal Nepal Government assumed the project as a whole including the provision of the financial resource necessary to maintain the services that were provided under the budget of the project.
10. Environmental and social impact.
Definitively the project carried out an enormous social impact by providing comprehensive capacity building to a wide range of members, partners, community, local authorities and local actors and the government. Unfortunately the project did not include an environmental component.
Dr. Raj Karim
Building capacity of local community groups and gatekeepers in creating a safe network for protection of street children relates to AGFUNDS mission of protecting the rights of the child to be free from all forms of exploitation and abuse.
The project is well designed with clear objectives and supporting activities and defined roles of the 2 partner NGOs, the community and government support to ensure its effective management.
The project activities are highly relevant to the prize as it deals not only with protection of street children and families but also seeks to reduce demand from tourists from 5 developed countries
The child safe network is innovatively designed as it seeks to build capacity and actively involve the community in the areas where street children live or work. The creation of a community and street based protection system, a help line and a safe center provides the safe community environment for these vulnerable children,
Direct beneficiaries have been identified and the community network trained to provide information and referrals to the respective agencies where children and families can access the services required.. Project is targeted to 4 groups of beneficiaries which include children living in the streets either alone or with families, children working on streets and those exposed to risky behavior.
Transferability of the project has already been demonstrated in certain countries such as Thailand, Laos, Phillipines, Indonesia and Myanmar.
The project has provided data to demonstrate fulfillment of objectives.
Project also demonstrates the value and benefits of developing a street based community child protection system in utilizing local resources and in building capacity of local NGO partners to manage the project in the various districts.
Tips and information for tourists and involvement of tour operators to protect rights of children will help in demand reduction and further enhance child protection.
The sustainability element has been inbuilt and is being demonstrated in Kampong Cham where the activities continue to be carried out by local NGOs and the community after the end of the project period.
Targeting more than 2000 diet beneficiaries and offering them care, counseling and support for rehabilitation and social integration will bring about a positive social and environmental impact
Finally this project serves to fulfill a high demand and an unmet need for protection, care and support, rehabilitation and reintegration of street children in lesser developed countries who are also exposed to abuse and exploitation by tourists. The practical nature of the project and network, and partnerships of Friends International with national and local NGOs is value added due to the cross border nature of the region.
Dr. Nashaat Hassan Hussein
The project is mainly based on providing “referral” services for street and vulnerable children in Cambodia. Through networking, the project was able to advocate the problem. The project entails carrying out several training sessions for different stakeholders (NGOs, experts, the police, etc.) in an attempt to raise awareness and technical skills related to dealing with street children in the country. However, there is no clear monitoring and evaluation strategy to assess the outcome of such a long-term training process and its direct impact on street children, except for “visible evidences” based on the workers’ points of view. Efficacy of the project implemented on the visibility of street beggars in Cambodia, as a main objective, is lacking.