Frontline Stories

Not Just Housewives: The Transformation of Child Monitors

To successfully implement community development work and properly care for hundreds or even thousands of sponsored children in the community, not only the dedication and efforts of staff but also the help of community volunteers are indispensable. Training community volunteers and mobilising villagers to participate in community development not only help ensure the sustainable development of the community but also facilitate the personal growth of the villagers.

In the Bohol Northeastern Area Programme of the Philippines, World Vision has trained 170 child monitors to be community volunteers to help in monitoring the well-being of sponsored children by different means, such as paying regular home visits and organising children's activities. Most of them are mothers who became involved as child monitors because they care about the development of their community. Each child monitor is responsible for overseeing 15 to 20 children in the community. If they notice any issues with the children, such as being absent from the community, not attending school or issues with health, they report to World Vision for further action.

One of the sponsored children, Neil, who was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago, received assistance with the help of his child monitor. When Neil’s child monitor noticed that he was not attending school, she reported it to World Vision staff. After contacting Neil's mother, the staff learned that Neil was battling cancer and needed regular chemotherapy and check-ups in Cebu City. Therefore, World Vision provided support by sponsoring the transportation expenses for Neil and his family to travel to and from Cebu City, relieving them of the financial burden. The timely assistance provided to sponsored children relies on the close collaboration between the child monitors and World Vision.

These child monitors are not only World Vision’s important partners on the frontlines but also witnesses to the transformation of children's lives. They have witnessed children they once accompanied during training becoming child leaders who help and inspire younger children. They have seen children they thought might not succeed academically graduate with the highest honours. They dreamed of traveling by boat to Cebu City when they were children, and now the children they monitor have the opportunity to fly to Manila to participate in children's leadership conferences. The growth of the children deeply moves the child monitors, who say, "When the children are happy, we are happy too!"

In fact, it is not only the children whose lives are transformed but also the child monitors themselves. They have not only learned about child protection but have also formed deep friendships and a strong support network with other volunteers. They have become more courageous and confident throughout the process. "We used to be just housewives, staying at home all day. But after becoming child monitors, we have the opportunity to speak publicly, talk to teachers and officials, and collaborate with different people. We have gained much more confidence than before!" says a child monitor.

Linda, who already reached the retirement age, once planned to step down and stop volunteering. “However, as the children couldn't see me at the activity, they came to my house to look for me and asked why I were not there. So, I decided to continue.” The love of the children undoubtedly added colour to Linda's retired life. "You (World Vision) do not give us money, but you genuinely help the children and the community." While the child monitors are grateful to World Vision for helping their children and the community, we are grateful to them because without their dedicated commitment, World Vision would not have been able to successfully implement Child Sponsorship programme in the community, giving children, families, and the community opportunities for transformation. Who dares to say that these hardworking and commendable child monitors are just housewives? "We have become concerned citizens. Even though we are poor, we are able to contribute to the community!" gratefully exclaimed the child monitors.

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