Fighting for the rights of children

Sarah Broscombe of STC introduced by Michael Duffy
Sarah Broscombe of STC introduced by Michael Duffy

AS part of a weekly Morpeth Rotary Club programme to keep up-to-date with what is going on in the community and to understand local and international need, Sarah Broscombe talked to members about Save the Children.

The charity was set up in 1919 when the UK and others were blockading the Austro-Hungarian Empire, as those suffering most were the children. Today, it specialises in having a strong disaster preparation strategy, such as for last year’s failure of rain in East Africa, which led to crop failure and lack of food.

Therapeutic food was taken out by air to Nairobi, went overland by truck to a warehouse and then by pick-up truck the next day to remote rural areas – 35p can provide a sachet of food that will feed a child for a day.

A total of £108million was collected last year, 27 per cent up on the year before, with 87p in every £1 going to provide aid related to health, hunger, education and protection. The rest pays for administration and logistics.

Money raised for ground-breaking action can lever in Government finance and support. Aid is given through a partnership with local organisations that are already on the ground in the community. This gets over a distrust of Westerners in big shiny Jeeps.

After the Japanese tsunami, child friendly gathering and play spaces were provided, all staffed by local people. Much of the aid helps to lower the child-death rate, through training health workers, midwives and mothers, and this in turn is found to trigger a decision by local people to have less children. A total of 8,000 health workers were trained last year alone.

The founder of the charity drew up a Charter of Children’s Rights that was eventually accepted by the international community. Before that, children in some countries had about the same rights as farm animals.