During the annual May CEO and board forum, held this year in Dublin, representatives from all 11 Alliance organizations gathered during an evening out to recognize and honor members who are rotating off the board.
On behalf of the Alliance, Secretary General Meg Gardinier acknowledged Chairman Michael Rose, Vice Chairman Lennart Wiklund, Treasurer Paul Newbigging, and Nancy Hill during the program, thanking them for their service and for their many contributions over the years. As a token of appreciation for their dedication and commitment, Meg presented each of them with a plaque featuring a photo and the inscription, “If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
In accepting their award, each member reflected on their tenure with the Alliance and noted how their time with ChildFund had personally influenced and enriched their own lives. Chairman Rose expressed his deep admiration for those in the Alliance network who have dedicated their life’s work to make the world a better place for children. Vice Chair Wiklund underscored the power of the Alliance network to effect real change and Paul Newbigging thanked his colleagues for their friendship over the years, noting how they had all become his extended family. Nancy Hill shared how the Alliance has helped to ground her research in the realities of children’s lives around the world.
After their remarks, Meg recognized several other board members who were not in Dublin, but who recently departed or will be leaving the Alliance in the coming months. These include ChildFund Korea’s Dr. Seung-il Shin, ChildFund Japan’s Hiroshi Harashima, Un Enfant par la Main’s Jean-Pierre Barranger, and ChildFund International’s Daniel Silva—all of whom have played a vital role in Alliance activities. Representatives from each of their respective organizations accepted the awards on their behalf.
Reflections from Chairman Michael Rose
In a sit-down conversation with Alliance Secretariat staff, Chairman Michael Rose shared highlights of his time with the organization, starting in 2007 with ChildFund Australia.
What most inspired you to advocate on behalf of children and youth throughout the world?
When I first started with ChildFund more than ten years ago, my children were still quite young. I saw that while my children had access to so many opportunities, countless other children in the world did not. After my early program visits to Vietnam and Papua New Guinea, I saw the gravity of the need and the power of ChildFund’s work, and I was hooked.
Thinking back on your travels with ChildFund, was there a trip that was particularly memorable and that affected you greatly on a personal level?
There are two actually and one is as fresh in my mind today as the day it happened. We were in Papua New Guinea and we were visiting a clinic that closed because it had no power, no water, and no drugs. During our visit, an old man came in carrying his grandson. The child had a badly broken leg, but there was no opportunity to treat the child at the closed clinic, and the grandfather refused to let us take the child to the Port Moresby for treatment. I remember commenting to someone from the local ChildFund team that this child would be disabled for life and the response haunts me still. He turned to me and said, “No, he’ll be dead in two weeks.” The young boy was the exact age of one of my sons at the time, and I was so stunned by it—by the injustice and unfairness of it—that it has been one of my prime motivators ever since.
A more joyful story is of a visit I made to a ChildFund program in Sri Lanka called the Village Mother Program, which helped young and inexperienced mothers, many of whom married quite young and lived on farms in isolated locations. The program teamed them up with experienced mothers at a district or village level who would then helped the younger mothers develop their parenting skills. The program identified mothers by spotting developmental or malnutrition problems in the children during visits to health centers or in school. I met a family who invited us into their home and described how the program dramatically changed their lives. The young woman had been in a terrible situation but through the work of this powerful program, her family was thriving. It was clear to me the program showed her and her husband the benefit of investing in their children. It was such a powerful, transformative program.
As you reflect on your years of service, what do you consider a major achievement during your tenure?
In terms of the Alliance, it is that over the last four to five years, ChildFund has demonstrated that it deserves a place at the top table of development organizations around the world. Governments, multilateral agencies and other major NGOs now see us as a credible partner and operator in the sector and that is quite different from where we were five years or so ago. People actively seek us out because they know we are good at what we do, and they know we are able to bring together the resources of our network to achieve great things for children and their communities. Ultimately, our role in getting child protection embedded into the Sustainable Development Goals is an incredible achievement for all of us within the Alliance network.
What advice do you offer our new Board members based on your experience with the network?
To recognize that our differences are a source of incredible strength. While our Alliance members have cultural and historical differences, there is a common cause and a common set of values that we share. I think being aware of these commonly shared attributes, as well as being able to navigate our differences is critical. It is our ability to embrace our differences, which in the end is our great strength.
What is the message you would most like to share with others?
That the inability of people to have the full benefit of their human rights because of where they live, or how their country works, is just an appalling waste of human capacity, talent and opportunity. The inability of people—young and old—to achieve their human potential ultimately affects the quality of the world we all live in. It seems to me that investing in people’s rights and the achievement of those rights, is a vital thing for all of us to invest in, and to benefit from, in the future.
Vice Chairman Lennart Wiklund Shares Highlights of his Years with ChildFund
A visit I made to Cambodia was a very emotional experience for me. It was wonderful to see what we achieved through our work, and it was incredibly touching to meet and interact with those we were helping. I was very impressed by the staff of ChildFund Australia and truly enjoyed the opportunity to meet the boys and girls who would now have a better chance at life through the efforts of people who were very committed to the mission and purpose of ChildFund. I also met with proud parents who had enormous integrity and were so devoted to giving their children opportunities that they would never have.
Knowing how little it takes to change the trajectory of one’s life humbles you. I often think of two girls living in a district where trafficking is sadly common. Thanks to a bike we gave them, they now had an opportunity to go to school, something they otherwise could not have done due to the physical distance and the snake-filled fields they would have had to cross by foot. They were happy and very committed to school and their parents were so proud.
Being a small part of a process wherein ChildFund Alliance changed from being a loose Alliance, without clear direction, to a major force in the child protection and advocacy arena is an accomplishment that makes me quite proud. I am privileged to have been a part of the team that brought Educo into the Alliance; a step I believe was very important and which demonstrated that the Alliance has much to offer.
I am sad to go, but at that same time, I am very happy to see our new Board members begin their collaboration with the Alliance. There is much work still to do, and the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead are many, so it will be imperative that new board members continue to strengthen the collaboration, while being innovative when it comes to structure, partnerships and cooperation. I will miss the many wonderful individuals I have worked with and collaborated with over the many years—many of whom have become close friends. I am proud of the commitment and passion throughout the Alliance. When you share as much as we do, most of all, it leaves you inspired.
In our next advocacy update, we will hear from Treasurer Paul Newbigging and Nancy Hill.