ActionAid Somaliland (AAS) currently sponsors 3,764 children in its three Local Rights Programme (LRP) areas which constitutes of 30 villages.
As a field assistant, I frequently visit the villages to collect children’s profile, their message, photo update and even organise events in the schools to entertain children. I maintain the profile of all the sponsored children. I document children’s details along with their photo. Sometimes if the sponsored child moves away from the LRPs and we replace with a new child.
Message collection is one of my primary tasks. I frequently visit communities to collect message from each and every child. I visit villages after another of the sponsored children and chat with everyone of them. They write messages and draw pictures to their sponsors. Amusingly, some children write a song or poem to their sponsors. Children regard messaging activity as medium to express their creativity and talent. After I collect the children’s message and I bring it to ActionAid office in Hargeisa where the messages are translated into English. We then mail it to each sponsor along with a activity report.
Entertainment means a lot to our children. AAS occasionally organises entertainment shows for the children. Sometime, we hire local comedians for the show. We also organise sports events especially football in the localities. Children enthusiastically participant is such extra-curricular activities. These activities make them happy - adds smile to their face.
Dealing with children as young as 3 is a challenging task - I have to speak their language and understand their temperament.
Children grow up very fast. In order to update sponsors, I take photo of each child once in two years and send to the sponsors. Our sponsors can see the physical change in the child they sponsor. Seeing photos of the children means a lot to the sponsors. It also helps to make comparison and monitor the growth of the children. Over the years we have collected photos of the children in different ages.
Dealing with children as young as 3 is a challenging task - I have to speak their language and understand their temperament. Besides, other challenging scenario is when children move from one place to another without our notice. I have to trace them where they have moved. During the recent El Nino drought, some of the children moved away with their family in search for pasture for their livestock. It was very difficult to locate them to collect message. As the drought has subsided families are gradually returning back to their villages.
There are many children in the LRPs who still need sponsors. I believe the sponsorship programme plays a vital role in these poor communities. It just not supports a particular child but the whole communities where money from the sponsors used to implement various community projects, including construction of school, toilets, water points etc.
Farhan Ciyale is a Child Sponsorship Field Assistant in ActionAid Somaliland. He has been regularly visiting the sponsored children for the past 5 years. He is also engaged with the children and conducts the ground activities of the sponsorship unit in AAS