“I remember sitting on the wooden floor of a one-bedroom pole home in a remote village in Southern Laos holding a six-month old baby who, with shallow breaths and high fever, was slowly dying from malaria. The local staff of the International NGO I worked for, rushed her and her parents to the run-down provincial hospital a few hours’ drive away, knowing there was still time to save her with antibiotics.
We later learned that sadly this baby did not survive, as after our team left her parents had discharged her and returned to their village, fearing the expensive Western medicine and relying instead on the village witch doctor’s potions.
Children’s wellbeing is a good indicator as to the overall health and strength of a community. In contrast to the above tragedy, during my 16 years supporting and managing local teams delivering community development programmes in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, and Vanuatu, I have seen thousands of children who have not only survived, but grown into healthy, educated, and hopeful young people living within resilient and prospering communities.
This transformational change is the result of child-centred community development programmes that provided basic health and hygiene knowledge, nutrition training, small-business skills, support for teachers and schools and child protection training.
I feel privileged to be able to contribute to the critical mission of creating communities where children and youth can thrive, as a director on the Board of ChildFund New Zealand.”