Can Childhood make a difference in China?

Is it at all possible for a relatively small foundation such as Childhood to make a difference in an enormous country as China

I didn’t feel convinced when I prepared for my first visit together with our country manager, Joel Borgström. For many years, Childhood has mainly been working with one partner in China (Half the Sky foundation) and the focus has been on improving the situation inside state institutions for abandoned and orphaned children. The model they have developed in order to decrease the number of unnecessary separations between small children and care givers in institutions, increase the stability for children in care is now being implemented on a scale far beyond the project. Childhood is now slowly expanding our network of project partners in China and the purpose of my visit was to explore new potential collaborations. After many years of work in the former Soviet Union, the development in China seemed unexpectedly familiar and seems to follow the same path as many other former communist countries. Until now, child abuse in general, and child sexual abuse in particular, have not been on the official agenda and there is little awareness and knowledge about how to identify and support victims of abuse. Many of the organizations we met are now in the stadium where they are starting to develop systematic approaches on how to handle child abuse cases in the communities. One important component for increased awareness about risks among children and youth is to open up for discussions about “normal” relations and to provide sexuality education, which still not available for many Chinese children. A grant to take this first step has recently been approved to the organization Maple Women’s Psychological Counseling Center. Childhood supports their “Caravan tour” providing information about abuse prevention to children in migrant schools outside Beijing and to their parents and teachers.

So even on a small scale, the grant can make a difference. It will mean something for the children that are reached by the Caravan tour. And it will contribute to promoting child protection and raising awareness about sexual abuse of children in China.

Britta Holmberg
Project Director, Childhood