We all recognize the importance of children in shaping the future of a community. How intentional, though, are we about involving children in our efforts to improve the lives of the poor? Ravi Jayakaran, who spoke at the 2011 ECHO Agriculture Conference, has authored a book titled Empowering Children. Introducing the rationale for involving children in development work, Ravi comments:
This is definitely not just idealistic nor is it something that is being suggested because it is the latest watchword among leading organizations involved in child-focused development…When a community invests its resources in its children, it is essentially investing in its own future and furthering its own survival strategy. Investing in children promotes long-term sustainability.
How do we actually go about involving children in our development efforts?
Ravi writes from a Christian perspective, as Vice President of Global Programs for MAP (Medical Assistance Programs) International. He points out that, to gain a more complete understanding of the issues a community faces, it is important to talk not only with adults but also with their children. Empowering Children provides a wealth of information and practical exercises geared towards “mobilizing children’s participation.” The book is divided into three sections, the titles of which are: Preparation; Exercises; and Special Considerations and Follow-Up.
Section one contains insights on how to prepare yourself and your team to address the needs of children in your work. Interspersed with suggested group exercises, it recommends strategies to follow and presents the cultural and circumstantial realities that children in impoverished areas face. Section two goes on to provide a number of practical exercises designed to help children, along with development practitioners, think about and discuss matters such as their community, who they are, problem solving, and their dreams for the future.
The last section of the book features six lessons on topics including child protection, child vulnerability and advocacy; it ends with a lesson on preparing a community’s child participation plan.
Many of the exercises in the book draw from the Ten Seed Technique, a simple method in which participants use seeds to visually indicate and prioritize community concerns. An appendix at the end of the book explains the Ten Seed Technique. Ravi also supplied ECHO with a booklet on the Ten Seed Technique. The Ten Seed Technique booklet is available for free online at www.rcpla.org/pdf%20download/Ten%20seed.pdf.
Empowering Children is especially designed for field practitioners seeking ways to encourage young people—particularly the marginalized—to become more involved in changing their circumstances. Through dozens of exercises and lessons, the book presents a variety of practical methods for engaging children in the development process—from assessments to evaluations. Discussions on issues such as personal empowerment, self-esteem, problem analysis, and child protection can equip leaders to help children serve as agents of change who understand how valuable they are. The book concludes with preparations for a community child participation plan. From a Christian perspective, the realization that all children have dignity and are created in the image of God helps us to see that every child's input is valuable. The Bible's concepts of community, church, and mission further help us to see that God not only uses kids in his wonderful plan, but that he also wants all of his children—male, female, young, and old—to participate in his work in the world.
- Published: 2011
- Publisher: William Carey Library
- ISBN-10: 0878080015
- ISBN-13: 978-0878080014
- Dewey Decimal: 307.140
- ECHO Library: 307.140 JAY