Australian mum raises over $100,000 to build safe-house for abused girls, by Belinda Jepsen


Australian blogger Constance Hall has harnessed the power of her loyal social media following to raise funds for a charity that supports sexually abused Kenyan girls.

The response has been overwhelming, with over $100,000 rolling in in less than a day.

Hall was made aware of the cause after being contacted by a full-time volunteer for Rafiki Mwema –  a not-for-profit organisation that offers a safe house, counselling, medical care, legal support and community education to young female victims of sexual violence in the east African country.

As Hall wrote:

“Some of these young survivors have been sexually abused to the point of needing surgery, some prostituted from the age of 2 (yep, you read that correctly 2-years-old) some aren’t able to communicate to anybody without covering their faces due to the shame they believe they have brought on themselves.”

Sadly, Rafiki Mwema has become so overwhelmed with the numbers of young children in their care, that they were seeking funds to build a house to accommodate older, teenage victims. They needed $75,000. And so Constance reached out to her more than half-a-million followers, or “Queens” as she affectionately calls them.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

The Ripple Effects of Kindness to Kids, A Wonderful Story!


The incredible story of Hilde Back and Chris Mburu shows how even small acts of kindness can touch many lives in ways entirely unforeseen. When she was a girl, a stranger’s kindness saved Hilde Back’s life by helping her to escape to Sweden from Nazi Germany where both her parents died in concentration camps. Back eventually became a teacher and, remembering her days as a Jewish girl in Germany when she was denied the opportunity to attend school under the Nazi Nuremburg Laws, she decided to pay for the education of a child who would otherwise not have a chance to go to school. The child she sponsored was Chris Mburu.

Mburu grew up in a poor family in rural Kenya whose family could not afford to pay the small tuition fee required for children to continue their studies beyond elementary school. Due to his excellent grades, he was selected for participation in a Swedish sponsorship program and Hilde Back paid his way through secondary school. Mburu excelled in school and went on to earn degrees from the University of Nairobi and Harvard Law School.

In order to help other talented children from poor families continue their studies at secondary school, Mburu created a foundation in 2001. With the support of the Swedish Ambassador in Kenya, Mburu was able to track down the benefactor who had transformed his life and named the foundation in her honor: The Hilde Back Education Fund.

(To read more, including great links to documentaries etc related to this story, follow the link below…)

“4thekidz” and “tedz for kids”: Amazing Support for Traumatised Kiwi Kids, by Caro Cragg and Tracey Leishman


The Setting up of “4thekids”, by Caro Cragg

 In 2011 a group of friends got together and decided not enough was being done in Aotearoa/ New Zealand to bring awareness to the scourge of child abuse , including
that there was not enough support for families caught in the epidemic in their communities. “4thekidz” was born by six people, myself and five others, putting our heads together and saying ” we can make a difference.”  We all believed that we, the world as a village, could make sure that there was knowledge of where and how abuse could be addressed as a community.

At first we felt we could change and save the world, but we quickly  realised that in fact , it was about educating and supporting one person at a time , and spreading that support by speaking out at every opportunity , (at clubs, awareness days, community groups and so on) that would open people’s eyes as to how to affect change .

The stats in NZ are some of the worst in the world: this year alone we have seen some horrific child murders and abuse cases and many are currently before the court and can’t be discussed at this time .
v635532967443570000-a81b0a95-920d-4e78-95ca-a3f700df2151-230In 2013 one of our founding members Suzy Brown created “tedz4thekidz”.  She saw how children going through forensic examination, already traumatised by the abuse that had led to this examination, needed something to comfort them. Many children where also facing removal from their home and family whilst investigations continued, some never to return to those homes .
Over time this evolved to tedz packs containing a teddy to cuddle , a blanket to wrap themselves in, a torch so they need never fear the dark and a diary/ colouring book, for expressing  feelings .
The NZ public have embraced this project and the support given by way of knitters, crocheters, quilters and donors of the other pack items all over NZ is incredible.
These packs are delivered to the forensic units as required . We never meet the children who receive them.  The packs are not a gift or reward, they are given to the child purely to comfort them at this most stressful time .

At 4thekidz we hope one day to be redundant, although that may not be anytime soon , but we do believeit will happen.  
4thekidz tedz projects operate in seven areas around NZ , with Tray being our co-ordinator in Dunedin.  We know Tray has great support, but she needs more, until the day she too can say — “we are no longer necessary, we are redundant.”

Founders of “4thekidz” group in Nelson: Kaye Stevens, left, Phyllistina Kesgin, Beth Hunter, Lou Illes and Prue Sweet. (Source, Nelson Mail)

 Being Co-ordinator of “Tedz4kids” Dunedin, by Tracey (Tray) Leishman
I first came across “tedzforkids” through another page and was intrigued by it and couldn’t help but support them.  I sent a couple of parcels of handmade sock monkeys over the months and Caro asked if I would like to start it up here in Dunedin, but at that time in my life I wasn’t ready.   In march this year I was captain of my “Relay for Life” team (organising and running it all) and the adrenaline rush from that inspired me to take the plunge and contact Caro again with a YES.

An example of what goes insde a “tedz4kidz” pack

I really want to get the charity “out there” in the public eye and to help the community realise that the amount of child abuse going on in our neighbourhoods is unacceptable.  This year has been a horrific one so far, too many angels taken far too soon: we as a community need to stick together and speak up if we hear or see anything.  Bruises and cuts heal over time, but what our eyes and mind see scar us deep down for life.   Abuse comes in many forms and affects everyone differently.  No child should ever have to witness any form of abuse.  I also feel this from my own personal experience of partner abuse and I still feel guilt that my son was in same house when it was happening: it still haunts me to this day, as I know it has affected him.

This is my project then,  my “baby” , “tedz4kidz”, that I’m starting down here in Dunedin, as the co-ordinator for the Dunedin area.  “Tedz4kidz” is also expanding nationwide, through many other centres.  The more people  know about the cause and talk about it , the more it helps others speak up, so hopefully it will help stop another child being taken too soon.


“Tedz forkids” provides comfort packs consisting of all NEW donated products: blankets, soft toys, crayons/pens, colouring books/journals and torches.  These packs are made up with love by myself and other volunteers.  Each one is unique and will carry a story, hopefully, of love and comfort for years to come.   Packs are made up in boy/girl and age appropriate , they are then given to the local police station where they will be handed out to children  traumatised from abuse and forensic testing.

I hope that writing this article wll help get the word out and get both “tedz forkids” and “4thekids” recognised more, especially down here in the south.   We need to keep our eyes and ears open, speak up and break the cycle of abuse.   This project is close to my heart, I’ve been through abuse and have come out the other side as a survivor and a stronger person, so I now hope to help make a difference for others.


More investment needed to protect children from violence: Childfund circulates petition…


Childfund have begun circulating an online petition to raise awareness of global violence against children, particularly those living in poverty, and to encourage investment in and implementation of programmes aimed at reducing this violence.  A very worthy petition to read about and sign.

More investment needed to protect children from violence.

Why our family sponsor kids through “ChildFund”

HirpaTham CollageBy Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

None of us choose where we are born or what circumstances we are born into.  That’s why for me, sponsoring a child is not just an enriching experience in itself– which it most definitely is– but it is also about redressing the huge disparity that exists within our global family between the “haves” and the “have nots”.  And the “have nots” in our world lack some very basic and fundamental necessities.

Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year. That is 8,500 children per day.  That means every 10 seconds, one of our children dies from hunger-related diseases.  (Source:  And I do view it that “we are all one” and all children are “our children”.  If it is possible then, to make a positive difference in the life of even just one child– a difference which will be carried on into the future, as that child raises his or her own children, as well as a difference which permeates the lives of others in the community surrounding that child, why wouldn’t we?  Wouldn’t we hope for the same kind of assistance in gaining independence and being able to sustain ourselves and our families if the shoe was on the other foot?  ChildFund provides the perfect vehicle for doing this in a way in which promotes independence and ensures that sponsor money goes directly to projects assisting the child in question and his or her community.


Hirpa, age 10 years, who lives in Ethiopia


Tham, age 5 years, who lives in Vietnam

My husband and I have four children and our goal was always to sponsor four kids of similar ages to ours, in four different parts of the world.  When our eldest son, now nearly ten, was born, we began sponsoring Hirpa, a boy the same age who lives in Ethiopia.  We then found that our finances would not stretch to sponsoring three more children, but have instead taken on one more: Tham, a five year old girl in Vietnam.  Sponsoring a child in Vietnam was important to me, as I spent three years living and working there and was treated well by Vietnamese people.  I also learned the Vietnamese language while there, so can communicate with Tham and her family in their mother tongue (although our kids write to her in English, which is translated by ChildFund in Vietnam).

A recent photo of Hirpa (3rd from left) with his mother and siblings.

A recent photo of Hirpa (3rd from left) with his mother and siblings, Ethiopia.

Sponsoring Hirpa and Tham has been a really good experience for our four children here in New Zealand.  We have tried to write to them as regularly as we are able and the kids like to draw pictures for them and ask them about their countries, cultures and families.  Around the world there are commonalities of childhood which transcend the barriers of language, race and distance.  Hirpa has three siblings and likes playing soccer with his friends. Tham paints pictures at her kindergarten (some of which she has sent to us) : these are the kinds of things our children can readily relate to and enjoy doing too.

In part because of my own experiences working abroad and travelling, I believe that forming friendships and links with individuals is important in helping our children become “global citizens” and developing a notion of the world as their “global family”.  Through technology, our world is becoming smaller and smaller.  I believe there are ways in which we can improve our world for future generations.  Instilling our children with a “global view” of life and an understanding of how their peers around the world live, why there are inequalities (both at home and abroad) and the human side of our history and our present is integral to achieving this (as is having faith that such improvement is possible).  Although young, our four children realise, through my stories of experiences overseas and through their contact with Hirpa and Tham, that poverty effects individuals, including kids like themselves.  Hirpa and Tham and their familes are kind of honourary members of our family: whenever we receive new pictures of them we put them up for a while in our lounge and talk about how they are doing.  I believe that this has instilled a level of emotional intelligence and global awareness in our kids.

Tham & Mum FY

A recent photo of Tham, our sponsored child in Vietnam, with her mother.

We enjoy hearing about the special festivals and cultural events in Hirpa and Tham’s lives which are so very different from our own.  Tham’s family are rice farmers, while Hirpa’s herd cattle.  Both children have to take an active part in helping their parents with these occupations.

I remember, some years back, when Hirpa (perhaps age three or so) was really ill and had to be taken to hospital.  His medical care was covered through our sponsorship of him with ChildFund.  My eldest son was most concerned and drew pictures for Hirpa and we prayed for him and his family together.  We often remember Hirpa and Tham in our prayers.  Fortunately, Hirpa came through his illness.

I know there are people out there who don’t agree with the idea of child sponsorship and I honestly can’t understand why.  During my time living in Vietnam, I worked for another child sponsorship organisation, Plan International.  Through this I saw first hand the difference that having a one on one sponsor made to the lives of children in the poorer communities.  Just the psychology behind knowing that someone in a completely different country and culture, who has never met you, is prepared to offer support of this nature has been shown to be a tremendous source of encouragement to sponsored children.  Letters, photographs and gifts received by children are often treasured for a lifetime.  Sometimes a sponsor will visit a child, which always creates great excitement in the whole community.  Putting an individual face to a situation (rather than just a label, such as “poverty in Africa/ Asia”) goes a long way towards making people care.  And, in my experience, when people care enough, good things start happening.


xdrchan.jpg.pagespeed.ic.5AByOHBhD_A Brief History of ChildFund

ChildFund was founded on October 6, 1938 as China’s Children Fund by an American Presbyterian minister Dr. J. Calvitt Clarke to aid Chinese children displaced by the Second Sino-Japanese War. As the mission expanded to other countries, the name was changed on February 6, 1951 to Christian Children’s Fund.  ChildFund International changed its name in 2009 but ChildFund New Zealand changed its name in 2005.  The name change came about because ChildFund was never a Christian mission organisation and didn’t evangelise. However, because of the name, people wrongly believed that’s what we did. Rather our organisation’s purpose was based on the Christian values of its founder.   A decision was made very early on to not proselytise, so as to be accepted in any community where children needed our help.  [Source: Wikipedia and ChildFund New Zealand].

Why our family likes ChildFund in Particular

There are a number of excellent child sponsorship organisations out there.  We like ChildFund because it is a strong, international organisation which has been assisting children in poverty and their communities for over 75 years.  Sponsoring children in 30 countries and reaching 18.1 million kids and their family members, ChildFund works in places where poverty’ s grasp is strongest.  ChildFund has a history of reliably making sure that the maximum possible amount of sponsor’s funds goes to the children, their families and their communities.

Personally, as a busy Mum with four active children, I like that ChildFund makes it easy for us to sponsor Hirpa in Ethiopia and Tham in Vietnam.  Not only are we sent regular reminders of things like birthdays, but are also given cards to sign and freepost envelopes to return them in, making it easy for us to maintain regular contact with the kids we sponsor, particularly at times when it is important.  I also like that ChildFund send us regular progress reports about how our sponsored children are doing, as well as up to date photos.  This helps maintain the connection from both sides, as well as showing us how the children’s lives are being improved through their sponsorship.  It is easy to call ChildFund at any time, should concerns or questions arise, and I have found them to be efficient, professional and always willing to put the needs of the children first.

Some ideas which might be helpful when sponsoring a child…

Child-Fund-cap*  Try to write to your sponsored child regularly: they LOVE to hear from you.  Letters don’t necessarily need to be long and, as the old saying goes, “a picture speaks a thousand words”: so a brief note and a photograph of you and your family will always be treasured.  People have busy lives, but I’ve found it’s possible to write to our sponsored children 3-4 times a year.  As I’ve said above, ChildFund are great at providing cards and so on to send too.

*  If you feel you can’t afford to sponsor a child, there are other options, such as joining with other families or friends and sharing sponsorship.  Some schools, kindergartens, churches and offices also sponsor kids.  It is good for the sponsor child to know the names of one or two individuals among a group of sponsors and, of course, receive letters and pictures (see above).

*  If you begin sponsoring a child and your circumstances change to a point where you feel you can’t continue, don’t feel bad.  Do explain to your child what is happening and perhaps look for other individuals or groups who might be willing to sponsor him or her.  Having said this, I know a number of people who have continued sponsoring children, despite tough times in their own lives, including some of those who lived through the Christchurch earthquakes: some people find continuing sponsorship in tough times a motivating and strengthening experience– it has to be your call.

*  Some people like to send their sponsored child a gift from time to time.  Gifts needn’t be particularly expensive and Free-Shipping-Gel-Ink-Pen-Neutral-Cartoon-Smoothly-Minions-Stationery-School-Office-Kids-Prize-Gift-24pcslarge, costly items (aside from being expensive to post) can cause jealousy and disharmony within your sponsor child’s family and community.  There are lots of small light-weight items which will be really appreciated by your sponsored child.  These include: t-shirts, shorts, undies, toy cars, hair clips, hair ties, notebooks, pens, stickers, balloons, small soft toys and light weight story or colouring books, coloured pencils or crayons (wax crayons seem to be more durable than oil ones), pens or pencils (if sending any kind of pencil, don’t forget a sharpener and rubber).    Keep in mind your sponsored child’s mother tongue if sending story books.  We have sent some to Tham translated into Vietnamese or you can send very simple ones with more pictures and few words: they will still enjoy looking at them and can write the words in in their own language.  If your sponsored child has siblings (as in the case of Hirpa, the boy we sponsor in Ethipoia) learn their names too and send a small gift for them also.  Items such as hard soap, facecloths, pencil cases, foldable, light cloth bags and toothbrushes also go down well.  Don’t send anything which might melt, leak or break– things such as toothpaste, shampoo, playdough and bubble mixture are best avoided.

Two Short Videos about ChildFund:


Related Links: