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UNICEF introduces a new approach to give assistance to needy and vulnerable children!

A Child Centered Approach assistance given last month to the mother of needy children in Bamenda

Just as the clock was ticking towards my first ever scholarship to poor and intelligent girls in a village called Bai Kuke, a village community that contributed greatly in my education, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) introduces a new approach to giving support and assistance to poor, needy and vulnerable children.

After completing the VOF training, I learned to become a solutions-oriented thinker. And as a result, I decided to begin saving up a portion of my monthly salary so that I can pay school fees for a few girls in Bai Kuke. Have you ever read my World Pulse journal post on the Nakinti Nofuru scholarship and the motivation behind my decision? You can read it here.

On Friday the 4th of April 2014, I received an invitation, inviting me to attend a four days’ workshop on “Training of Actors to Strengthen HIV programming focused on the family for the benefit of children.” This workshop was organized by UNICEF and the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and the Family – Cameroon from the 8th to the 11th of April 2014.

In introducing the workshop, it was clearly explained that UNICEF is urging service providers (NGOs, grass root organizations, government services) to shift from the Child Centered Approach to the Family Centered Approach (FCA). That is to say, organizations/individuals should stop giving direct assistance like school books, school fees, bags, food, medical needs to vulnerable and needy children, but rather, support family heads/members with an income generating activity that will in turn provide the needs of the children in a long term manner.

Before the close of this four days’ workshop, my head was spinning. I kept asking myself whether my approach of paying school fees for children in Bai Kuke was a step in the wrong direction. It is only a few months to the start of a new academic year, how then do I change my approach from paying school fees to the girls, to giving start-up capital for an income generating activity to a member[s] of their families.

I did agree with them that the new approach is quite a long-term and sustainable one. But then, I am also worried about family members prioritizing on other things with the money they may make from the income generating activity. It is very true that a lot of families in Cameroon will rather save up money to meet some frivolous activities like funerals rather than pay school fees for children. This new approach needs a lot of follow-up and it will obviously take a lot of resources.

The question in my head is:

“How do I shift to the new approach with all the resources needed for follow up?”

It is very true that paying fees for five girls will take me less than $300, and that is income born out of personal sacrifice. Even though the new approach is superb, I honestly think that it will be too much for me and other small scale funders to move in the same direction with UNICEF!

However, I depend on the reasoning and expertise of all those reading this post. I would appreciate if people would think about this whole thing and advise me on what to do. In as much as I want to join the band wagon, availability of resources is pulling me behind.

So, dear friends, sisters, do you think I should stick to my old plan or abandon the plan because I cannot meet the demands of the new approach?

Honestly, I am caught in a web of confusion.

Materials and literature from this workshop are available in soft; I’ll forward it to any interested persons.

Warmest greetings from Cameroon, popularly called “Africa in Miniature.”

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