Page 1



Children’s Voices 2014

Yeah, think about them for real. 80 million children in the countries where Reach for Change operates. Each one with dreams and fears. So eat up, your brain needs the ­energy to get the big picture. “But think of the children in Africa”. Adults of past generations (and this one) have used this logical fallacy as a plea for pity, or as an argument for social justice generally accepted as appropriate. Well, it’s not appropriate. Just as silent, nameless children, so often used by our sector to fundraise from the public, are problematic on several levels. Children are described as if they were objects. Not individuals with hopes dreams and feelings just as complex as yours and mine. Reach for Change exists to create a better world for children. Not by pitying them – but by empowering local social entrepreneurs to create sustainable solutions to pressing issues for children. Therefore children inform our work from context, to program, to understanding our impact. We believe that as adults we have an obligation to search for ways to learn what children think and that we need to understand the gaps between children’s rights and reality so that we can act. This is crucial in order to feel true empathy and make a real commitment to global development. This is also why we have engaged 5,400 children in dialogue in five African countries. Here we share some of their thoughts and voices on different societal issues. Since children are our number one stakeholder, their voices inform our planning our creative processes and evaluations. Stakeholder driven communication. It sounds simple, but is the next step our entire sector needs to take, to develop ­responsible, trustworthy communication to support a broad movement for and with children.

Jon Goland Marketing Director


Children’s Voices 2014

KEY INSIGHTS We have talked to more than 5,000 children, across five different countries in different parts of Africa. They live in rural areas, in cities, on the street and in nice houses. They have different backgrounds and individual truths about what it is like to grow up in Africa. They have more answers than we have questions and every one of them is just as unique as you and me. There is no short way of summarizing all this information, and the purpose of this brochure is not to inform people in Sweden about what people in other parts of the world do. Rather, the idea is to raise some thoughts on how little we know. That being said, of course, in such a vast material, there are patterns to be ­identified and insights to be made. The following are four key insights from the survey that we would like to highlight and that will feed into Reach for Change’s strategic work. For a more comprehensive image, please visit to read the full report.

Motivation to get an education. ­Children surveyed are extremely motivated to s­ tudy, 43 % would be in school if they could ­choose to do anything they wanted for one day. Surveyed children face barriers in the form of bullying and costs. Fear of violence. A major cause of fear is violence from adults – parents, teachers and authorities. 35 % are afraid that an adult will hit them. One homeless 14 year old girl in Chad put her ­experience in to words: “It seems that the state is proud to see us being abused, and all the time the police bother us”.

Agents in society. Although education is of ­highest priority, the respondents also show active interest in issues generally associated with being an adult. Reflections on police authorities, conditions in the workplace and responsibilities of government appears ­frequently. A 13 year old girl in Rwanda writes: ”Avoid nepotism at work!”. Hope for the future. Although facing many ­problems, the vast majority, 94 %, are ­positive about their future. A 13 year old girl in Tanzania writes: “Children should be given opportunities to be ­involved in community in matters that concern them and society as a whole”.


Children’s Voices 2014

PINK AFRICA 80 million children live in Chad, DRC, Ghana, Rwanda, Tanzania and Senegal, ­where Reach for Change operates. We have asked more than 5,400 of them about their lives. SURVEY SPECIFICS 5,374 respondents 5 countries 49% boys, 48% girls, 3% not specified 12–17 years old Data collected NovemberDecember 2013


Child protection


Economic participation


DR Congo

Rwanda Tanzania

Expression and participation


Health and development

Social inclusion


Children’s Voices 2014

FUTURE DREAMS In all of the surveyed countries, the hope for a bright future is high. 91 % of children surveyed think that their future will be pretty or very good, but only 79 % feel that they can i­nfluence their future.

What do you want to do in the future?

59 48 47 44 40 34 28 28


Have a job I like


Become rich


Get a useful education


Start my own company


Love and be loved


Contribute to my community


Become famous



When I grow up!


Children’s Voices 2014

CHILDREN’S VOICES One of the foundations of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is that children have the right to get and share information in a way they can understand and with easy access. Children also have the right to form and express their own opinions. There is a gap between how much children want to engage in issues concerning them and their actual possibilities to participate. “Something that I’d like from governments and companies is that children are given opportunities to be involved in matters that concern them and society as a whole”. Girl, 13, Tanzania. Want Can 60





10 0 a. What you learn in school

c. How things work and look at home

b. What the school environment looks like

h. How money is used in your community

e. What you do in your free time

g. Who is elected to make decisions

d. Which friends you can hang out with

f. What it looks like your neighborhood

Children’s Voices 2014

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST PRESSING ­ISSUES FOR CHILDREN? We need to understand the gaps between children’s rights and reality so that we can act. One key element in this is to involve children in identifying ­pressing issues.


Children don’t get an education

2 Children live in poverty 3 Children get abused 4 Children get discriminated 5 Children get sick and hurt 6 Children don’t get to voice their opinion 7 Children don’t have a good family environment 8 Children don’t get important information 9 Children don’t get the skills they need to provide for themselves when they grow up 10 The natural environment is polluted and bad for children 11 Children don’t get to play

“In the future I’d like for this survey to be in the form of a book. I like Children’s Voices and Reach for Change” Boy, 13, DRC



Children’s Voices 2014



dren e chil of th gal worry ’ ne ies in Se eir famil th t u y o ab om econ




of the child ren in Rwanda th ink that school is im portant




15 %


n in of the childre ve lie Chad be ture in a bright fu








16 %








t in ha n t re aid em ild fr th ch a it e re l h th ia a wil of an lt u nz ad Ta an

ge of children w

t ou


Children’s Voices 2014

SENEGAL: SCHOOL Education is highly prioritized among children on all markets. In Senegal 95 % ­ of children surveyed state that school is important. Even though the children in Senegal are highly ­motivated there are material obstacles for many of them to succeed in school. “I want to ask for help for our school because many things are missing which we need but most of all classrooms and environmental development” Girl, 16, Senegal.



Think that their teachers are good.


Can’t afford the things they need for school


Lack good school materials





Don’t get help with homework


Children’s Voices 2014

DRC: CORPORATES AND WORK The confidence in the meaning of corporate social responsibility is high in DRC. 74 % of children surveyed think that companies can contribute to a better world. However, a lot of the responsibilities are addressed to the state: “The Congolese state should help youth find jobs after their studies. The state should end the war in Eastern DRC. The state should take its responsibility on the kuluna phenomenon (gangsters)”. Boy, 18, DRC A large share of the children work, but not full time and not always for a company. 62 % of children surveyed work extra or work during the summer and 5 % work/ do chores that they get paid for at home. 3 % work and don´t go to school.

16 22 15 40 24

Because of my job, I don’t % have time for school

My job is tough and % makes me tired

Other people at work % are mean to me There is great risk of getting % injured at my work

% My job is stressful


Children’s Voices 2014

RWANDA: WELL-BEING Children in Rwanda face many challenges in health and development. There is still high infant, under-5 and maternal mortality rates as well as acute e ­ arly ­childhood diseases and malnutrition problems. HIV/AIDS continues to pose ­problems through high incidence and increasing prevalence, which leads to a high and increasing number of children orphaned. The cost of health care affects children in Rwanda, 16 % of children surveyed state that they don’t have access to health care at all.

Do you have access to health care when you need it?

45 21 13 16


Easy access


Have access but it is difficult


Have access but it is expensive


Have no access

“Help HIV-AIDS sufferers” Girl, 14, Rwanda


Children’s Voices 2014

TANZANIA: VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN In Tanzania corporal punishment at home is legal. It is also legal in schools on the mainland, but has been prohibited on Zanzibar.

40 28 34 36 30 34


Worry that an adult will hit them


Have been afraid of an adult in the past year


Have been bullied by another child


Worry that there will be war


Worry that they will be sexually harassed


Worry that other children/ youth will hit them

“Many children are abused. Rural regions are no exception with great violence against children with disabilities, who have particularly of the skin, eyes, legs and so on. So ask the village and work to prevent such discrimination.” Girl, 14, Rwanda

Children’s Voices 2014

CHAD: SUPPORT FROM SOCIETY In Chad some of the surveyed children belong to the most vulnerable groups in society. Despite the lack of support they are able to address complex and ­pressing issues such as lack of health care, education and exposure to violence.

“Take good decisions in order to contribute to child survival” Girl, 18, Chad

“We were in school but we did not have any ­support, that is why we became what we are now. People call us “Children of the ­Street”. We do not want to hear that. When does the street have a child? It seems that the state is proud to see us being abused, and all the time the police bother us.” Girl, 14, Chad

“Fight against rural depopulation, desertification and against ethnic discrimination” Girl, 18, Chad



Children’s Voices 2014

Ongemba Dienga Lamaidie, Yossi Dienga, Marthe Lewo, Erick Mukadiin DRC after a Reach for Change focus group dialouge.

STAKEHOLDER INCLUSIVENESS AND THE SENSATIONAL BISCUIT “Of course we eat biscuits, why shouldn’t we eat biscuits?” The group laughs and someone asks how it’s even possible to believe that biscuits are e ­ xclusively sold in Belgium. In the shadowy courtyard in Cité Verte in Kinshasa, DRC are nine ­teenagers, invited to brainstorm around the campaign. Our mission for the ­campaign is to increase knowledge in Sweden about social development and children’s situation in Africa. Reach for Change is a corporate initiative supporting local social e ­ ntrepreneurs creating a better life for children. This makes children our number one ­stakeholder. We constantly engage with children, involving them in improving


Children’s Voices 2014

our strategy and making them part of operational decisions. Therefore it is a given to involve children also in this campaign. One of the first things we decided on was the narrative subject, we would not form a ‘we’ of the people reading Metro on their way to their office jobs and a ‘them’ of the half a billion individual children in Africa. Instead we wanted to shine light on the very we-and-them phenomena. So when Ndaka Willy-Christe, told us the story about how she met someone who were genuinely surprised by the fact that ­people in Kinshasa eat biscuits, it was clear to us: we would do a campaign about prejudices. The idea here is not to inform people in Sweden about what people in other parts of the world eat and do not eat, do and do not do. The idea is to raise some thoughts on how little we all know, and how the reason for that simply is that ­there is not one single truth about people and biscuits anywhere (at the table one person hated all kinds of biscuits, another liked them salted and a third had them only in the evening). The same applies to all sorts of things in ­every individual’s life. When we told the invited group that adults in the North and in the West used to say “But think of the children in Africa” when a child didn’t want to finish a meal the conversation ended up in a political analysis of the continent of Africa, the countries’ relations and history. And they came to one important conclusion: “I do not know enough. Not about Africa, not about Europe.” We live in a day of age when we must grasp the world, its complexities and the constant change. Knowing and learning as a continuous process. Understanding our stakeholders by knowing them and involving them, throughout the process. This is what we believe.

Claims and Boundaries

The survey was distributed with the help of multiple local partners who have used their network and expertise to reach children from different parts of the surveyed countries and with different social backgrounds. The result gives unique insights about the surveyed children’s situation. The study is not designed to make comparisons between the countries or to give an exhaustive picture of the life of children. There are still numerous questions that need further studies to be answered.

In 2013 Reach for Change conducted a cross-African survey to learn from children and young people in our markets. The Children’s Voices survey was funded by the Swedish International Development ­Cooperation Agency, SIDA. Read the full report at

Reach for Change P.O Box 2094 SE-103 13 Stockholm Sweden Swedish 90-account: 90 02 35-3

Research partner: Lumen Behavior. Graphic design: Pondus Kommunikation Surveys conducted in: Senegal, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Rwanda SIDA has not been a part of the production and responsibility for the content is entirely Reach for Change’s.

R4C Children's Voices folder 2014  
R4C Children's Voices folder 2014