In 2008, PEPY* established Child-to-Child Clubs (CtC clubs). The underlying aim of the clubs was to build the students’ leadership skills, in support of the development of their educational careers.
A fundamental part of PEPY’s goal is to project the education and experience of the students into their wider community. With this in mind, we implemented a voluntary-action based methodology called Child-to-Child where children identified, shared and communicated solutions to their own problems. The understanding of this was that the students could use this to solve the issues that they felt were most pressing within their community. Our method of engagement was through interactive activities; the children would create plays, brochures and songs in order to educate their school and community about issues such as Dengue Fever, Malaria, personal hygiene and road safety.
The Child-to-Clubs ran for five years, across 12 villages, with over 500 children between the ages of 11 and 15 (previously 5-14) in attendance. In 2010, through the influence of the Child-to-Child Clubs, a group of local students established Volunteers for Community Development. We were delighted by this, as we feel that their motivation to run clubs for young people of their own accord, demonstrates the success of this initiative. This initiated a period of transition, during which the PEPY staff shadowed the youth leaders in an attempt to ensure continued success.
- There was a community-wide increase in literacy and knowledge of issues concerning health, the environment and human rights. With participants of the program encouraged and motivated to extend their knowledge to their peers and families, information began to spread organically.
- Children were empowered to directly participate in the development of their community, serving as role models for students and other community members.
- Some children took on the role of trainers, to transfer their knowledge to younger students.
- In 2010, 20 students from grade 9 at Chanleas Dai Junior High School established their own organization, ‘Volunteers for Community Development’; they took their passion for learning and used it to inspire their community to participate in student-led English classes. They ran 20 classes per week which involved games, interactive learning and messages of respect for social good.
- PEPY recruited facilitators from the local communities, providing employment, capacity building opportunities, and local roles models for the children.
- Community members were engaged with the initiative, donating time, materials and land to construct community centers to accommodate CtC club activities in four villages. (2011)
- At the beginning of each school year, new club members were provided with life skills training at two sets of four day courses, which each served 90 children.
- In 2011, PEPY led trainings for Oxfam Australia regarding the Child-to-Child methodology.
- A focus on environmental stewardship led to the majority of the communities becoming visibly cleaner, with a greater consciousness of environmental issues and less pollution from garbage
- A total of 510 children participated in the CtC clubs, of which 322 were females.
- Commune representatives acknowledged that through the Child-to-Child Clubs, young people within the community had seen an improvement in their communication and confidence.
Challenges / Lessons learned
- In the early years of the program, the CtC clubs were held outside or under the stilted houses of community members who volunteered this space. However, after some time the communities expressed their wish for a different arrangement, and PEPY decided to support the community in the construction of small shelters for the purpose of the club meetings. This proved to be a temporary solution, as during the rainy season both the houses and shelters were rendered unsuitable. This led to the decision of using school premises as meeting spaces, although, this was not ideal as it contradicted the essence of the clubs as an outside of school program.
- Migration to Thailand posed a large challenge in maintaining consistent club attendance, especially amongst the older age groups.
- After some years of running CtC clubs, it became apparent that for the older children (15+), the content was too easy and repetitive to be of great value. Students of these age groups felt that they had already reaped the benefits of the clubs in early years. In order to address this issue, we established the Young Leader Clubs program.
- Despite PEPY’s recruitment, and involvement of local facilitators, the program was still widely viewed as our responsibility, which proved to be challenging, particularly during the process of transition. We also feel that this is the reason that when we reviewed the clubs, a year after PEPY’s withdrawal, none of them remained in service.
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*Up until January 2015 PEPY Empowering Youth was known as PEPY, read more about our localization here.