Friday, December 10, 2010

The winning failure

So bad news on a grant that was won by a community partner and myself. We won the grant, but due to several complicated issues we were unable to implement it. We were one of six out of 60 that applied and won. This is quite the accomplishment in itself, and I am proud of this fact. Sadly we had to write an email yesterday about how we would not be able to accept the money. Below is pasted parts of the project, and what it would have done, for those interested in what it is I do here... or don't do. This is what we would have liked to have done.

Council for Unity would like to offer support to children who have become socially vulnerable due to the migration of parents working abroad. Earnings abroad shield these children from poverty, but make them vulnerable to other risks. These children lack parental support and are more vulnerable socially and psychologically. Without guidance or communication with their parents, children may fail to develop social skills and struggle to establish healthy relationships with their peers. This often puts children at risk of making poor decisions. As some cases have shown these children are forced to deal with problems they are not capable of too early causing emotional and psychological trauma. Additionally, many parents and citizens of Balti do not recognize that these problems form when parents work abroad. Within „Liceu Teoretic Vasile Alecsandri," 35% of children from the ages 6-19 have at least one parent working abroad, 10% with of which have both parents working abroad. Moreover, it is well understood that many more parents leave to work abroad and do not register with the mayor's office – making the actual number much higher. Finally, this problem is growing. It is with these students, and this grant that Council for Unity hopes to develop better communication, psychological, and social services.

We would like to remedy the aforementioned problem through three goals: 1.) To provide the community and parents with information and resources that will promote awareness and understanding of the gravity of the problem, 2.) to improve the relationship between children and parents through communication, 3.) to help these children integrate socially through team building with others in the same situation, and to have monthly group discussion led by a psychologist.

By helping children integrate socially we can help disadvantaged children in a number of ways. Educating children actively, and giving children the skills and confidence to integrate socially, will thus cause them to make wiser decisions. If we can help children integrate socially, then we can help prevent them from turning to alcohol at a younger age, and mitigate risks of human trafficking that exist in Moldova. Educating the community is key to this success as it will reinforce our goal's and organization's success.

We plan to increase communication between children and parents abroad through paid Skype time and activities such as drawing, writing, and photography. We desire paid Skype time because often parents abroad have access to a cell phone, but not a computer. Skype can make these calls for the cheapest rate available. Activities such as drawing, writing, and photography are great because they will keep children busy with constructive, rather than destructive activities. In turn we will transmit students' work - every smile captured on film, every dried brush stroke, every verse of poetry – to their parents via post. Coordinator of Council for Unity Corina Ceban and Peace Corps Volunteer Christopher Cote will facilitate this project in collaboration with leaders within Council for Unity will plan and lead writing, photography, and art activities for children. Additionally, collaboration among other community organizations in Balti will be necessary for this project’s success. We plan to involve current students and graduates of “Ciprian Porumbescu” School of Art in Balti. “Ciprian Porumbescu” School of Art will make a minimum of two appearances to teach different art techniques. This will both help boost the success of the children’s artwork learning, as well as the project’s integrity within Balti.

Psychosocial activities we plan to utilize are team building activities as well as those in Council for Unity that lead sports activities. With these activities we seek to adapt Terre des hommes' s “MOVE” curriculum. “MOVE” seeks to “increase their [children's] self-confidence through games and sports. It is recognized that this self-confidence is essential in getting young people to integrate socially, and is also a factor in preventing exploitation and abuse.” We also plan on having group discussions with a professional psychologist to shed light on the mental effects related to these issues. Between Corina Ceban, Christopher Cote, and those trained in Council for Unity’s sport department we can accomplish these goals.

In the information section we plan on producing quarterly brochures for Balti which will include what our center offers, has accomplished, existing resources in Moldova, and articles to educate.

General Goal: To provide support and education to children who are vunerable due to parents working abroad.

GOAL 1: To provide and increase communication between children and parents abroad.
Objective 1: To increase communication through 60 parcels per month which would include drawings, letters, and photos sent to the parents of 60 children overseas per year.
Objective 2: To increase the direct communication between parents and children through 60 hours of Skype calls a month to 60 parents abroad for our first year.

GOAL 2: To help these children integrate socially through teambuilding activities, psychosocial activities, and psychological consultancy.
Objective 1: To solve problems by offering psychological counseling in groups once a month.
Objective 2: To hold activities once a week that educate the notion of respect, trust, responsibility, self confidence, and discipline.

GOAL 3: To raise community and parent sensibility of the seriousness and impacts that arise when children are left home alone.
Objective 1: To increase the knowledge of problems related to parents working abroad by 20% in the first 6 months. This will be done through surveying the community and parents.
Objective 2: To inform and involve the community (parents) about what we do as an organization, why we do what we do, what we have done, what we plan to do, and the resources available through 500 brochures four times a year.

Through the above set goals we believe that we can more effectively offer children information, communication, support, and confidence necessary for them to integrate into society. This is all done through active education and participation. Additionally, the information we provide will give cultural understanding and sensibility to the issues related to children when parents leave for work. We believe that this is the first step in resolving the issue and that our organization will be one of the first to address such issues first-hand. We imagine that the Small Project Fund will provide us with the financial resources necessary for one year. Beyond that we plan on seeking local funding for salaries and administrative costs when once our program is running and providing a vital service and is demonstrating results in the community. It is our vision that this program will function as long as the need exists.

In order to monitor our progress and evaluate success, we have established the below goals, which we think are possible within the first year of our project. We hope to use the Royal Norwegian Small Project Fund to get our program started, and while progressing and succeeding with these monitored results, search for local funders with evidence of our successes in order to be sustainable.

Within our first six months we aim to accomplish the below goals:
− Monthly: have offered a minimum of 200 Skype calls, totaling 50 hours, for 20 families.
− Weekly: have offered 3 different activities a week attended by 50 children with ages 6-19.
− Monthly: have sent 50 letters/drawings/photos to parents abroad from their children.
− Have increased communication (amount of time) between children and parents abroad by 30%.
− Have reduced the number of school absences by 10% due to our activities (among our group of children.
− Have increased this group's grades by 10%.
− Have successfully informed 600 of 1000 through distribution of brochures.

Throughout the period, we will monitor the number of participating children in activities. At the end of each month we plan on collecting data to record our month's progress. Each person involved will be assigned daily responsibilities to collect these statistics for activity attendance, letters sent, and discussions on Skype. With compiled statistics, we will analyze our progress with our above set goals. From here, we will have an enhanced ability to make any necessary adjustments for the second half of our first year.