Looking Ahead: 2019-2021 Strategy

Equipped with the valuable experience and feedback from our first GFF Representatives and the important lessons learned, we enter 2019 ready to scale up our operations and deepen our work.

This year we are expanding into China, Fiji and possibly Sri Lanka, however our main focus will be on strengthening HELPS in our current locations – India, Nepal, Vietnam and Philippines. In these areas we are adding more human and financial resources and scaling up projects that have shown initial promise. Partnership formation will remain a key focus for the year, however we will be implementing projects more independently where we can.

We will see the deployment of an additional 21 Representatives, excluding the three that will remain from the first term, and almost half of those will be recruited from project locations. Locally-recruited Representatives have the advantage of knowing the local language, understanding the local context and enabling better project sustainability. Over the following three years we will aim to extend further into the Asia-Pacific region and increase our annual intake of GFF Representatives to 35 and 50 in 2020 and 2021 respectively, with the majority of those being recruited from the countries we operate in.

On the programmatic front we are scaling back on larger scale infrastructure projects like solar and sanitation in favour of educational and health related work, with the exception of Digital Learning and small scale solar roll outs where we see a good fit.

Core projects for 2019 include:

  • Digital Learning: enabling rural, resource-poor schools to benefit from freely available content to supplement their education through the provision of tablets and training
  • Reading Workshops and Mobile Libraries
  • Village Solar: installing solar power in rural, off-grid households in small villages
  • Environmental Protection: initiatives such as recycling workshops and equipment, awareness workshops and clean ups
  • Health and Hygiene: hygiene workshops, First Aid training
  • GFF scholarships: sponsoring children from poor families and giving them additional educational support
  • Adult literacy and economic empowerment: teaching rural women basic literacy and basic business skills in collaboration with Child Development Society
  • Career and University preparation
  • Teaching and tutoring: computers, maths, English, communication skills, presentation skills

We have allowed a certain amount of spontaneity in this formative phase of the HELPS programme; most projects have evolved based on expressed needs of the community and local partners, testing to see what works and what doesn’t, and a bit of intuition. There is always a tension between trying many different projects on the one hand, and focusing all energy on just a few. We are managing this tension by keeping a close ear to the ground, getting feedback and involving beneficiaries wherever possible, and building monitoring into projects as early as possible. This will help us to ensure our work is relevant, useful and geared to make a significant future impact.

Thank you to the dedicated team of GFF staff, Founder, Representatives and supporters that will get us there.

GFF Team.

Sarah McLaughlinLooking Ahead: 2019-2021 Strategy
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GFF HELPS 2018: The Year in Review

July 2018 marked the deployment of our first group of “GFF Representatives” of the GFF HELPS programme. We received applications from over 50 candidates and selected 8 – the majority from the University of Auckland, where our Founder has strong ties and a long history as a major donor. These 8 Representatives attended an in-person or online briefing before being deployed in pairs to rural communities in need, which were to be their homes for the next six months. They showed tremendous courage, maturity and cultural sensitivity, forming good relationships with local stakeholders and initiating projects ranging from Digital Learning and Mobile Libraries, to Solar, Football Coaching, Recycling and Hygiene workshops. We learned a great deal about the rural contexts we were in and their unique challenges and strengths. We also learned the importance of clear expectations between ourselves and our partners, which will help to strengthen our work going forward. These are the highlights from two of our GFF Representatives who have recently returned home, Sophie and Joe, followed by more detail about what we did in each location.

Sophie administering a questionnaire to the women’s group in Kavre

“Spending the night in Kavre Village was the highlight of my experience in Nepal, it was amazing to see how the village operates and the community works. The way in which the people live and to hear their stories and share a meal with them. It is always a humbling experience to sit among people who have the bare minimum of necessities, who can smile and laugh with you and are willing to share what little they have with you. It was also enlightening for me to hear the big difference a small amount of learning can make to one persons life. Basic literacy is something that can be taken for granted when you live in countries like New Zealand, but the things you are limited in doing by being unable to recognise numbers or count are innumerable and take your independence away. Yet through all of their struggles, all of the difficulties, these women smile and laugh.” – Sophie Jones-Williams, GFF Representative 2018, India and Nepal.


Joe officially declaring an area a Child Labour-Free Zone in Kalimpong, India

“I learnt to appreciate that on the whole people are generally good and want to do what they can to help others. Almost every person I met during our stay was incredibly welcoming and couldn’t do enough to help us be comfortable in their country. Whenever I did something to help someone such as running a football training session, they couldn’t be more appreciative to me for giving up my time to help them. It can be easy to forget that most people are good people that want to make the best of themselves and others around them, no matter what their background may be.” – Joe Fisher – GFF Representative 2018, India and Nepal.


We worked alongside a local project, the Yolanda Aklan Reconstruction Programme, who facilitated our introduction to local schools and community leaders. We visited local schools and developed good relationships with the teachers, principals and department heads and put forward our ideas for the schools. We ran a pilot of our Digital Learning project, where we use inexpensive tablets as learning aids to supplement schools with few resources. We learned some valuable lessons for how to adapt this project in different contexts.

We piloted our Village Solar Project; developing a model for providing solar panels in areas difficult to access. These households do not have access to the grid and rely on harmful kerosene for lighting, which causes fires and respiratory illnesses. Our GFF Representatives ran Reading Workshops in four schools and started a Mobile Library to enhance language development.


In Vietnam we ventured North to identify a suitable rural community to work with and found a severe lack of sanitation infrastructure. We built 10 toilets and two washrooms for a new school that will service 500 children from the surrounding villages. In the South we partnered with a local NGO and sponsored 10 children through their schooling. We also identified a rural community and are building our connections there for future work.

India and Nepal

In India we partnered with one of our grant recipients, the Bal Suraksha Abhiyan Trust, and worked alongside them in their child labour programmes and started a football coaching course which continues to flourish in our absence. We faced some visa challenges and so decided to move our Representatives to Nepal, where we had identified a very promising women’s education and empowerment programme, run by a local NGO, Child Development Society. We visited their women’s groups and found good opportunities for partnership. You can read Sophie’s research report and see Joe’s documentary about this work here. We also introduced recycling to a local school and ran a football club.

This first round of our HELPS programme was illuminating; we were able to test out our internal processes and a lot of project ideas to see which gained traction. This has strengthened our programme plans and operations, enabling us to enter the field in 2019 stronger, more focused on our objectives and able to deliver larger impact. We are under no illusion that there is still a lot of learning to do, and we are looking forward to 2019 and seeing how this programme develops.

GFF Team.

Sarah McLaughlinGFF HELPS 2018: The Year in Review
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The Glenn Family Foundation has a long history in Macau, building infrastructure for hospitals and facilities for the mentally disabled. This year the GFF HELPS programme is expanding to Hainan. GFF Representative Violet Ge returns from New Zealand where she studied, to Hainan where she grew up, to build connections for GFF HELPS and identify potential projects. Watch this space for updates as this project develops.

Emily RobertsonChina
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GFF HELPS projects span two locations in Vietnam; Ho Chi Minh City and the small rural community of Dien Bien in the north.

GFF Representative Thanh Vu grew up in Vietnam and studied in Sydney. She returned for the opportunity to give back to her community. We have partnered with E-Share, a local NGO that offers sponsorships to children who cannot afford to go to school. GFF HELPS has started its own scholarship, this year supporting 10 children with school fees, uniforms, stationery and books. Thanh is also developing a Positive Parenting course in consultation with E-Share and other local experts to encourage critical thinking and helping children play a more active role in their own learning.

Meanwhile in Dien Bien, engineer Helen Nguyen has identified the need for sanitation infrastructure in a rural school. The school and surrounding households do not have access to toilets and Helen has done a lot of research and worked with local builders to build 10 toilets and two washrooms to service 500 children and the nearby households. She is also testing out how the children respond to technology and online apps to supplement their learning.

We look forward to hearing what they discovered and expanding our work.

Emily RobertsonVietnam
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Economic Empowerment

GFF HELPS first entered Nepal in 2018 through our pioneer Representatives Sophie Jones-Williams and Joe Fisher. We worked alongside a local NGO, Childhood Development Society (CDS), who run a range of educational programmes for youth and adults. One particular project that we were interested in was their Self Education and Empowerment Programme (SEEP) – a women’s training and microfinance initiative that had shown great success. Sophie had already visited several similar groups in India and was eager to learn how they had achieved such success. Sophie and Joe spent three months with CDS and visited a few of their groups. Joe’s documentary and Sophie’s research reports are below.

It is incredible to see the potential that is unlocked when an illiterate adult is given the opportunity to be empowered by basic literacy and business skills training.

In 2019 GFF HELPS is supporting two of these groups and working alongside them to add to their skills and offer support to the wider community. We look forward to sharing our progress in the coming months.


SEEP Research Report – 2018

Emily RobertsonNepal
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The Glenn Family Foundation has a long history in India, building infrastructure for and supporting victims of child labour, equipping medical centres and schools and rolling out sanitation projects.

Learning Centres

The GFF HELPS programme in India is focussed on education and preventing the amount of children dropping out of school and becoming child labourers. The Foundation, in partnership with a local NGO, initiated three Learning Centres in Kalimpong where children can access free tutoring from qualified teachers, assistance getting into vocational studies and a range of other extra-mural activities. These centres also serve the broader community by offering health workshops, adult literacy courses and facilitating visits from welfare agencies.

Volunteer Representatives are sourced locally, from within India, and assist in all these learning centre activities as well as initiate their own projects. They also conduct surveys and research that further informs us of the ongoing needs.

Emily RobertsonIndia
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GFF HELPS entered the Philippines in 2018 to establish new projects in the Aklan area. We worked alongside a local NGO, the Yolanda Aklan Reconstruction Programme, and learned a great deal about their successful livelihoods programme. Our pioneer Representatives, Michael Fanning and Willyn Carrascal lead the way and initiated our first projects:

Digital Learning

Today there is a widening gap between those with and without access to technology. The amount of information available online nowadays means that every child’s learning could be supplemented with rich and engaging content. As technology grows increasingly more affordable and available, GFF HELPS set out to see whether small rural schools could benefit from simple inexpensive tablets, pre-loaded with effective teaching tools, like the famous Khan Academy, or a range of local apps that can be accessed offline.

Michael and Willyn piloted the idea with four small local schools in the Banga area. They conducted teacher training sessions to ensure teachers understood how to use the technology and shared their expert opinions about how it could be best used in the classroom. Teachers took to the technology well and found maths applications particularly useful to enhance their lessons. Children navigated the apps with ease and engaged well with it.

In 2019 we will be conducting a broader test of this project before we decide to expand it into other schools. We look forward to learning more from our findings – report coming soon.

Household Solar

Those in the most rural parts of Philippines do not have access to the electricity grid. They use kerosene lamps which are harmful and often dangerous, or do not have light at all after sunset. Solar lights are safer and increase the productive hours in a day. GFF HELPS piloted a small roll out of solar units to 40 households in Magdalay, a small community in the hills. They worked closely with the local community leaders to determine who was most in need and how to store and install the lights. This cooperation was integral to the project and we learned a good model for doing this type of work in other similar locations.

Reading Workshops and Mobile Libraries

Another thing they noticed in the small schools they visited was a shortage of reading materials and children did not spend much time learning how to read. They developed a reading workshop and sourced appropriate books that could form a mobile library. The workshops helped the children with their comprehension and the interactive storytelling got them engaged and eager to learn. They children are continuing to exchange books and we hope to expand their selection and find ways to further enhance their reading skills.

Emily RobertsonPhilippines
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Project Ideas

In addition to our projects currently underway, we encourage new ideas and innovative projects. Perhaps there is a particular skill you have, or a project you have been a part of before that you think could be replicated… We’d love to hear about it. Email us on [email protected]

Here is a long list of ideas…

  • Teach a workshop with youth on composing a CV and using job websites
  • Work in youth centres to help them access further study opportunities
  • Hold workshops on basic business skills
  • Teach English or tutor students who are struggling with their coursework
  • Put together a basic computer skills course and offer this to youth and adults
  • Start a reading group to encourage reading and appreciation of literature and to expand vocabulary
  • Partner with a local nurse or medical student and deliver a workshop on sanitation and personal hygiene
  • Coach a sports team and organise matches. Incorporate other elements such as team work and communication skills
  • Hand out flyers inviting people to an environmental clean up day or a workshop on recycling
  • Visit a few elderly people each week who are not able to perform their daily tasks and assist them
  • Find out what local services are available to people but not well utilised. Find a way to inform people about what is available and how to access support and resources – perhaps this is having someone from the local grants office come to explain how to apply for a social grant. Visit the organisation and ask for materials to share, such as flyers or booklets. Speak to a local social worker to identify what the priority needs are.
  • If you are a Tradie, work with your local contact to identify homes in need of basic repairs and use local labour to assist you in the repairs
  • Hold a youth group for girls where you give them the opportunity to talk about taboo topics and organise personal growth opportunities
  • Work with a local expert to teach First Aid
  • Work with a local nurse to host workshops about sanitation and hygiene
  • Teach the importance of good nutrition and exercise

Something to think about…

How could you build your activity so that it can be continued and expanded upon by a later GFF Representative or the local community?

What existing community resources are there that you can build on or share? For example, does the local clinic offer a free check up day and people just don’t know about it?

adminProject Ideas
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