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Inside issue 3

The power of collective action LIFE FOR CHILDREN AND THOSE WHO CARE FOR THEM Unpacking how our page 3 network model works Ruth’s home now – page 4 family care in Uganda

Viva’s added value in Costa Rica

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page 6


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EDITORIAL Viva believes that a locallyled network of churches and NGOs can more effectively and efficiently change the lives of children than any single organization working on their own. Through empowering, training and resourcing our 37 partner networks worldwide, we help ensure that they are in the best possible position to care for children in their communities. In this edition of Life, read the theory behind these networks (page 3), learn how Viva has put words into action in Costa Rica (page 6), and discover how the power of working together brought Ruth home again in Uganda (page 4). Thank you for the part you play in helping us to bring lasting change to children.

Paul Kennel Executive Director, Viva North America

PARTY-TIME! Remember last Christmas? It won’t be forgotten by the children who attended a Viva Christmas Party! More than 4,000 vulnerable children worldwide enjoyed a meal, took part in activities and received a gift. Good follow-up after the parties has ensured children with no previous contact with network members are connected with local programs and ongoing support.


Viva Christmas Parties are important for a network’s health too, increasing visibility, building capacity, encouraging new members to join, showing the value of working together and giving the children a safe place to experience Christmas.

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ZIMBABWE “It’s been a long time since I’ve had fun like this.”

Could you and your church support Christmas Parties in 2017? Why not host your own party to raise money? You can do it at any time of the year! Contact us at if you would like to know more.

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The networks in the Philippines are well placed to respond following natural disasters


And now for the technical bit: Brian Wilkinson unpacks Viva’s network model.

Viva has inspired the growth of 37 networks with whom we currently partner. Although the context varies in each continent, it is hard to imagine that the network is not the biggest provider of care for children in that city, with an average of 145 local churches and organizations in each location reaching and caring for, on average, 33,000 children. Our ‘collective action’ programs, run jointly by organizations and churches, deliver results on a larger scale over and above the activities of the individual participants. As a result, we have seen real change in the society. Building effective networks is not easy. There are many component parts that need to come together, all largely on a voluntary basis, following a shared vision and methodology. Each network carries a Christian identity and inherent in the beliefs of all participants is the Biblical mandate to ‘be one’ and act as a ‘body’.

COMES THROUGH COLLECTIVE ACTION Viva’s technical team continually walks alongside these networks, advising and supporting them through the stages of growth, helping to stretch their vision and their ability to move towards it, and to achieve greater effectiveness and impact. The goal is to use the power of collective action to find solutions to the big issues of the day that address attitudes and behaviors of the general population that so badly affect and influence the environment that children grow up in. Viva’s vision is to empower the local church to work together and, through structured growth and development, be equipped and confident to lead city-wide collective action. Our model and track record over 20 years means that we have something significant to say and, more importantly, have an approach that is worthy of support, upscaling and investment. Brian Wilkinson is Viva’s Head of Network Development


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CARE Ruth was helped by several different organizations in CRANE’s city-wide network

Our dream is for abandoned children to grow up in safe and loving families. The reality of life however means situations are deep-rooted and complex. We believe a network approach is the best way to find solutions to society’s largest problems – in countries such as Uganda. It was the end of term at ten-yearold Ruth’s boarding school but noone came to pick her up. Her parents hadn’t paid her fees and they had heard of schools who would not allow children to return home until debts had been cleared. They assumed this was one of those schools; there was no-way they could pay so they just left her there. The school arranged transport to take Ruth home but when she got there she found that her parents had moved away and none of the neighbors knew where they’d gone. She had no other option at that time than a life on the streets.


Ruth is one of over 1,000 children who Viva and our partner network CRANE, in Uganda, has rescued

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from the streets or helped resettle from orphanages back into family care, whether this is with biological or foster parents. Viva and CRANE work with 35 Child Care Institutions, advocating that a family home is a better place for a child than an orphanage. This requires a shift in thinking for most as orphanages are often funded by the number of children in their care. These 35 network members are now united in a vision to help provide family-based care for children and to work together, sharing best practice with one another, as well as with other organizations. Maureen Muwonge, Deputy Director of Dwelling Places, a network member, says,

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THE POWER OF COLLECTIVE ACTION “Through a network we are able to learn from each other. I visited two organizations last year that were orphanages and was able to support them in understanding that every child deserves to be raised in a family unit.” CRANE and Viva have also created training programs to teach network member staff about the methodology of family reintegration, so that resettlement is successful for both family and child. Staff learn how to trace a family, provide counselling and to ensure the home situation is safe and suitable for long-term care. Alongside this, Viva and CRANE have also been working with government social workers, police and other authorities so that all the legal boxes are ticked. Network members are even teaching others what they have learnt. Maureen has now helped those two orphanages develop a resettlement program for the first time. She is passionate about working together and the difference CRANE has made to her organization: “There are so many benefits to being a part of a network as an individual organization. You have a vision but many times you cannot achieve whatever you want to achieve unless you have people to support you.” This certainly is the case in Ruth’s story: over four organizations were involved in helping her. After spending months on the streets, the local police picked her up and contacted an advocacy organization in the network to see if they could help. This organization didn’t have the mandate, resources or training to provide assistance, but they were part of a network who did.

They referred the case to another CRANE network member who provided Ruth with temporary care and started the process of tracing her family. When they didn’t have the budget to cover all of Ruth’s care costs, another network member came alongside and paid school fees. Eventually, Ruth’s mother was found and it became clear that it was the father’s plan to abandon Ruth because of their money problems. Since then, the parents had separated and Ruth’s mother had remarried. Whilst she was happy to have her daughter back, her new husband wasn’t so willing to provide for another child. CRANE came alongside and provided counselling to the family. The stepfather agreed to take Ruth in and. CRANE gave the family a resettlement pack which contained everything necessary for providing immediate care for their daughter, including a mattress, bedding, mosquito net, food and soap. Ruth is now happily back home and is doing well at school. Social workers continue to visit her to ensure that she is receiving the care she deserves. If it wasn’t for a network of organizations, Ruth’s life would be looking very different right now. Whether they located her, provided school fees or traced her family, each network member has played a part in Ruth’s story. Through funding, training and developing the technical side of the family reintegration program, Viva has ensured that CRANE is now in the best possible position to ensure children such as Ruth can return home.

Help us bring long-term change to the lives of children like Ruth. Give a regular monthly gift for our work at

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The network approach in San José aims to bring lasting change for children

Teasing out how Viva changes children’s lives can appear complex when you consider the number of players involved. Take Costa Rica as an example. Here you will find the partner network we support and the individual network members – all different organizations but interconnected and working together. The beginning In Costa Rica, most churches invest in what they consider to be ‘their patch’ and there are many examples where the community knows the name of the pastor rather than the church itself. Inspiring churches to work collaboratively is a new concept for many leaders. In 2013, an already existing network of churches named Concilio de Pastores approached Viva asking for help. The network comprised 11 churches that had already been working together for three years. It was located in Purral, a dangerous area of San José, the capital of Costa Rica, and had a vision to help children in their local community. The churches did this by jointly running a bi-weekly kids club that taught children values through sport and art.


After hearing of Viva’s collaborative work in Guatemala, Concilio de Pastores asked us to partner with them and provide technical support because they felt

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alone and without a long-term strategy. Although these churches could in theory identify themselves as a network, it was more like a program informally run by many different churches with diverse visions and priorities. They did not know which systems to put in place to ensure they made a lasting impact in their community. Viva specializes in supporting networks with issues like these. We know how to promote and stretch a network’s vision so that it inspires new members to join and keeps existing members passionate and involved. A common identity During the first year of partnership, Viva helped Concilio de Pastores create and implement a three-year strategic plan – with the aim of forming a common identity, thereby helping the network become sustainable for the long term. Viva helped focus the network’s activities in three areas: education, entrepreneurship and construction for the local community. These aimed to tackle the root causes of the community’s key issue of violence.

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The growing networks in Costa Rica are uniting churches

At the same time, Viva facilitated the forming of a legally registered board of directors, ensuring financial accountability across the network. This had been a problem in the past when a previous network member left the network, taking with them significant resources. Although brokered by the individual church, they were meant to be used for network activities.

and they come to us with fewer asks, each one thought through in depth and detail.”

Amongst the hard work there was also celebration: Viva encouraged the network to design a logo thereby building their collective identity.

The big picture This network is now being used to inspire churches in four other areas of San José province to form local networks. The vision for these networks is that as they grow and strengthen, they will join together to form a network of networks. They will then be trained and briefed on the culture of violence that exists in Costa Rica and will be challenged to work together to effectively respond and oppose it. Violence is a countrywide issue, and so it can only be tackled through a country-wide response, which a network of churches, united in purpose, vision and direction, can provide.

It’s not just Viva which has noticed the change in the network – others have too. Willow Creek Church in Chicago has been one of the network’s funders for the last six years. Felix Nieves, the church’s Global Field Manager for Latin America, said that, “The expertise Viva has offered the network is invaluable. Before, they would come to us with countless proposals, each one existing in isolation and detached from the bigger picture. Now they are thinking more strategically,

This demonstrates another key element of Viva’s added value. Viva helps networks broker external resources that often would not be achieved by networks on their own, develop skills in fundraising and proposal writing, and also recruit international expertise and funds.

We long to further support grassroots networks like the one in Costa Rica for years to come. Use the form enclosed or go to 7

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Viva, 601 Union Street, Suite 3010, Seattle, WA 98101, USA t: 206-382-0790

FACEBOOK.COM/VIVATOGETHERFORCHILDREN Mixed Sources Product group from well-managed forests, controlled sources and recycled wood or fibre. Cert No. SA-COC-09174


Front cover main: © amslerPIX

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Viva is an operating name of Viva North America. Viva North America is a registered 501(c)3 organization, registered under employer identification number 84-1541857. Any children referred to have had their names and photos changed in accordance with our Child Protection Policy.

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Life magazine 3 (US version)  

With the theme 'The power of collective action', Viva's latest magazine features an article focusing on our work in Uganda plus a feature ab...

Life magazine 3 (US version)  

With the theme 'The power of collective action', Viva's latest magazine features an article focusing on our work in Uganda plus a feature ab...