ChildFund's "game changing" move will see communities reach self-sufficiency quicker

Helping children through community development

ChildFund New Zealand's Programme Officer Matt Fowler tells us about an exciting new ChildFund initiative in Sri Lanka that will shift the power to local partners and put communities in the driver's seat toward self sufficiency. 

You know you have found your calling when you feel excited to get out of bed and to go to work on a cold Monday morning! That's the case for me I am delighted to say. 

In the ChildFund New Zealand Programmes team, we work in partnership with our amazing and dedicated communities to design and deliver the range of child-focused activities that our wonderful supporters make possible.

Recently I have been part of a game-changing process in which we are working with our Sri Lankan partners to identify what self-reliance and independence could mean for them. We call it our co-design process and consider it to be extremely significant and valuable to international development work because it shifts the power to our partners by making them the drivers of their future – as they plan the pathway to independence where they no longer need outside support and children have everything they need to thrive.

I started at ChildFund earlier this year, having come from another great International NGO and having lived in Papua New Guinea before that. It has been an excitingly but overwhelming time, the amount of work to get my head around is huge as ChildFund New Zealand works in eight countries in addition to being one of the accredited NZ agencies to deliver humanitarian assistance through NZ Government funding.

In our day to day jobs in Programmes we manage budgets, write reports to Government, and monitor progress on how our activities are positively affecting children and youth around the world. Usually we would do regular community field visits too, but of course for now, with COVID-19 restrictions, this travel is not possible. Thankfully we have established, strong and trusted relationships with our local partners and we are able to deliver the same impact from afar.

Specifically, I support communities in our Road Map countries of Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Zambia, and Kenya. A varied spread of countries around the world and none of which I have been to yet (open already borders, I want to meet our partners face-to-face in the same time zone!).

I am on calls throughout all hours of the day and night with our partners in Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Zambia, and Kenya, getting to know them and all the great work they do to support children and youth to thrive.

I have also been learning new data analysis and visualization technology to not only make more sense of the information we gather from the field through surveys and consultation, but to ultimately teach these skills to our local partners, so they are more in control of the information. We are also generating ‘Mid-Point Celebrations’ of our Road Map countries to celebrate the amazing achievements they have made in the last five years (more to come on this soon).

All this work and learning has come alongside getting to know the team and colleagues I have the privilege of working with. The ChildFund New Zealand team has an amazing spirit and culture that is truly unrivaled. This emanates directly down from our leadership team to all staff. There is a genuine atmosphere of trust and confidence that is instilled in each of us to get the work done with a high degree of quality and integrity while having a laugh along the way. I feel empowered to voice my opinion or suggest new ideas as well as to bring my genuine self to work each day, including the "hangry", grumpy, or more quiet moods I may be in, highlighting the human centered approach ChildFund embodies as it flows from our internal organizational culture and out into the communities we work alongside. Our wellbeing culture is unlike any other I have been a part of.

We have recently started a new financial year and are going flat out to ensure our child-focused activities are ticking along well, and that the partners we support feel like they are being heard and supported sufficiently. For me personally, it is a massive privilege to be in this line of work, as we work alongside all our amazing partners and staff in country to support children and youth around the world to thrive. 

ChildFund's work in Sri Lanka

ChildFund is working with communities in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka to take children out of poverty.

Education, health, water/sanitation, family livelihoods and child protection are our key focus areas. The aim is that the community becomes self-sufficient in providing the basics children need to thrive, and so we (with support) can move on to help another community. 

We work in Batticaloa through local partners. With your support, we can help Batticaloa reach its goal of self-sufficiency in providing the basics to its children through better access to safe water, sanitation, education, healthcare and child protection, along with more livelihood opportunities for their families.

If you would like to join us in reaching this goal with the community in Batticaloa, help by becoming a child sponsor or a community sponsor today.

Our Road Map approach to change

Road Maps are, essentially, 10- to 15-year plans that we develop with our communities and our partners. These plans outline the activities and projects needed to create long-term, sustainable change in their communities.
Each area where ChildFund works is unique, and so each Road Map is unique and requires a different approach to reaching self-reliance. Every year, through the support of ChildFund donors and sponsors, communities get closer to accomplishing their goals and reaching graduation.

Be part of the positive changer unique Road Map Approach


1 comment


  • M.Jeanie Hogan

    Dear Matt, welcome to Childfund N>Z> I hope you enjoy being head of a great team of people. I have a friend from Sri Lanka who has had to go to see to her Mothers welfare. A big problem as Mother has Alzheimers.Good to see you have great plans for Sri Lanka. Regards M.Jeanie Hogan


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