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Meet Maiti

Meet Maiti

Meet Maiti

20/12/2018

At the age of just 9, Maiti was travelling to Kathmandu with a group of older friends . She had run away from home to find work in the carpet factories. The work was unpaid, the only guarantee she had was of food and a bed at the factory, but she was happy, for the food and for her independence.

Sarah McLaughlinMeet Maiti
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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.

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.

Philippines

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.

Vietnam

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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China

China

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.

Read about Violet’s first HELPS activity.

VIOLET GE – BLAZING A GFF HELPS TRAIL IN HAINAN

Emily RobertsonChina
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Vietnam

Vietnam

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 children with school fees, uniforms, stationery and books. Thanh also developed a teaching 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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Nepal

Nepal

GFF HELPS first entered Nepal in 2018 through our pioneer Representatives Sophie Jones-Williams and Joe Fisher. We had the pleasure of meeting community members and learning about the issues they face through 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. We commend CDS for their incredible work and thank them for sharing their knowledge with us.

In 2019, our GFF Representatives Sulochana Thapa from India and Shona Warren from Australia will get to know this community more closely and see what they can do to help.

 

SEEP Research Report – 2018

"One of the things that working with the beneficiaries of Bal Suraksha Abhiyan Trust taught me was that children have more resilience than most people believe or give them credit for and can endure a number of horrific hardships and still maintain a smile and pure enjoyment." 

Sophie Jones-Williams, GFF Representative, India and Nepal, 2018

"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."

Joe Fisher, GFF Representative, India and Nepal, 2018
Emily RobertsonNepal
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India

India

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.

"One of the things that working with the beneficiaries of Bal Suraksha Abhiyan Trust taught me was that children have more resilience than most people believe or give them credit for and can endure a number of horrific hardships and still maintain a smile and pure enjoyment." 

Sophie Jones-Williams, GFF Representative, India and Nepal, 2018

"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."

Joe Fisher, GFF Representative, India and Nepal, 2018
Emily RobertsonIndia
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Philippines

Philippines

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.

Digital Learning Pilot Report

In 2019 we will be conducting a broader test of this project before we decide to expand it into other schools.

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.

Read more about this project here.

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.

"This experience has given me the opportunity to connect with communities in rural areas and allowed me to learn more about my own culture." 

Willyn Carrascal, GFF Representative 2018, Philippines

"I have learned that sharing and giving can be just as rewarding as receiving. There is a big hospitality culture in the Philippines and people will try make you feel at home whenever they can."

Michael Fanning, GFF Representative 2018, Philippines
Emily RobertsonPhilippines
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Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Image: GFF Representative Tharaka Munidasa (right) and GFF India Manager Saom Namchu (left) at the entrance to SANASA Campus in Kegalle

In early 2019 GFF visited Sri Lanka with GFF Representative Tharaka Munidasa to facilitate a partnership with local NGO, SANASA, and establish a new location for the HELPS programme.

SANASA is a large NGO with a high standing in the community and a tremendous reach and expertise. They follow a cooperative philosophy and one of their main goals is to uplift communities in a way that encourages local empowerment and local ownership. It’s SANASA Campus is a community-based, non-profit co-operative sector university. GFF HELPS will be working closely with this campus.

Some of the broader needs identified in these communities are economic empowerment, health services and education programmes. Specifically, there is a need to develop more income generation opportunities in local villages to retain skilled youth who opt to leave the community in search of better opportunities, causing a skill drain in the area. There are also not many educational opportunities, particularly for learning English, IT and business.

In March GFF visited for a five-day exploration of the rural villages and the work of SANASA. The extensive discussions were fruitful and together we identified some good introductory projects:

  • Teaching English to campus students to transfer their skills onto the village community and assisting the Centre for Cooperatives and Community Studies (CCCS) to educate the wider community
  • An IT skills development programme for students and the local community
  • Village projects including digital learning, environmental awareness and recycling, heath workshops, first aid training and educational workshops

This month we officially opened the new IT Department, sponsored through GFF and made possible by the efforts of Tharaka and his network of professionals willing to offer their pro bono skills.

We have also appointed our first local Project Coordinator, who will guide the work of our incoming volunteers. If you would like to join this programme, see our vacancy advert. 

The beginnings of a productive partnership: signing the MOU with SANASA

adminSri Lanka
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