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Christian Children’s Fund of Canada

Member Profile November 2012

This month, CCIC spoke with Mark Lukowski, CEO of Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC), a Canadian NGO based in Markham, Ontario. CCFC works side-by-side with its colleagues in developing countries focusing on child and community development. Mark highlights the successes and challenges that have marked the 50 years of existence of the organization and talks about a very unique initiative, the “Small Voices, Big Dreams” global youth survey.

Rosemary McCarney
Mark Lukowski, CEO of Christian Children’s Fund of Canada, with a child in Ethiopia


CCIC: To situate where CCFC is today as an organization, tell us about some of your greatest achievements and important challenges of the past few years?

CCFC:  The past three years have ushered in unprecedented changes for our 50-year-old organization. We have experienced a new level of change as we re-engineer ourselves with new leaders and new directions. We have brought into the organization experienced leaders from both the NGO and business world.  This has brought about our comprehensive results based approach. Not only has this meant improving our ability to measure impact and change, it has enhanced our effectiveness, improved our visibility and opened new funding sources both here in Canada and elsewhere, allowing us to expand our opportunities to assist the children.


CCIC: Several Canadian international development organizations have a focus on children; what makes CCFC unique or different?

CCFC: Our unique difference is firstly our commitment to collaborate with local NGOs in a long-term mentoring relationship, where we deliver programs through respected local organizations, thereby investing in local capacity to assist children and ensure community structures are in place when we leave. We are also invested in a thoughtful analysis of the life-stages of children and look at the issues of child poverty and vulnerability from a holistic perspective throughout their lives. We all understand that true development takes place when a community is able to fully take control of its own planning and future. By building capacity in local organizations, we are able to build a better future for children.


CCIC: Could you share a story from the field that illustrates CCFC’s work today and that you are particularly proud of?

CCFC: I am particularly proud of the work we have accomplished in early childhood education and development.  Starting at the foundation of a child’s development is a privilege and we have been able to make significant contributions to our host government’s own education planning and implementation through innovative programme models and unique global partnerships.  These successes are being recognized in two of our countries of operation and we are seeing the government replicate those practices.  We are also making good headway in engagement with private sector entities in development, striking out in new territories to work with non-traditional partners in the corporate world and helping entrepreneurs to become self-employed and to run sustainable enterprises.  We encourage children and youth participation in all of our programmes and their contribution and insight are invaluable to designing our future programming.


CCIC: Each year CCFC participates in a global survey targeting youth and releases a report called “Small voices, big dreams”. Could you tell us about this year’s report and its significance for your work?

CCFC: Small Voices, Big Dreams is a global survey which is unveiled on Universal Children’s day (Nov 20). Commissioned by Christian Children’s Fund of Canada and its global network, The ChildFund Alliance, a global alliance of 12 child-centered development organizations,   the survey explores the hopes, dreams and fears of children aged 10-12, from 47 countries, including Canada. This year we also asked questions about the environment. We found that that one-third of children surveyed cite pollution as the environmental problem they worry most about, while one-fifth are most concerned about natural disasters, such as drought, earthquakes and floods. The survey helps provide voices to inform our child centered approach.


CCIC: CCFC has been a member of CCIC for a long time. What aspects of collaboration within the international development sector are most important for CCFC in the current context?

CCFC: CCFC values its membership in CCIC but recognizes that it is a value-proposition and a relationship that should be a win-win.  Members get out what they put into it. The real return on investment results from regular interaction with CCIC staff and making meaningful contributions in key areas of analysis, advocacy and research.  We have benefitted from a number of key surveys over the past year, interviews and publications that focus on tangible results achieved and sharing of experiences and, of course, the varied opportunities to participate in seminars and workshops that relate to areas of common interest.  CCFC has much to bring to the discussion. We continue to seek out those opportunities and in turn hope to be viewed by our peers as reliable sources of information and insight.


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