Tobias’ travels take him from Tanzania to Derry

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Just back from a conference in Cork with the Dalai Lama, Tobias Chelechele and JR McLaughlin this week spoke to the ‘Journal’ about the great work that Children in Crossfire do and how none of it would be possible without the support of the people of Derry.

As Programme Manager for Children in Crossfire in Tanzania, Tobias works with the government at a national level to improve child development.

“We have discovered that when a child is born up until it is three, are its most formative years,” he said. “We have been educating parents about this and helping them with childcare. Recent studies show that care and protection of young children is a challenge for parents as there are no daycare facilities or nursery schools. We also communicate the importance of investing in young people. We find that for every dollar invested in a child, there is a return of ten dollars once that child is a fully functioning member of society.”

Tobias works to help direct the government about where to make allowances in budgets and legislation.

In 2009 the Tanzanian government brough in the Child Act 2009 which is the first time children in Tanzania have protected legal rights.

JR, Head of Fundraising, explains that, “Children In Crossfire will work with governments to get them to include plans in their budget but we can’t make sustainable changes without government support”.

Tobias meets with governments to relay the information and provide examples of successful work.”

Tobias says that they are always striving to improve.

“There was a cancer centre for children that had 17 beds trying to cater for 40 patients and their carers.

“With the work we have done, the cancer death rate has dropped by 15 percent in the past 3 years and we will continue to help. The government in Tanzania have been very supportive.

“This year they have increased spending on cancer drugs in the budget and are constructing an eight-storey cancer hospital.

“We have created an Oncology Centre of Excellence and these are the types of examples we can take to the government to show what action works and how well it works.”

JR says that having someone on the ground is invaluable in making sure that they help with what matters to the people.

“It’s not about what we think people need, it’s about working with people and finding out what their needs are. We are transferring our work across to different nations but we are aware of cultural differences that exist.

“The needs of people in Tanzania will be different from the needs of people in Uganda. We address the needs of the community and the people in it know best.”

JR went on to urge the people of Derry to continue their ongoing generosity.

“The mayor chose Children in Crossfire as his charity this year so we will benefit from the opening night at the Mayor’s Official Festival Opening at the City Hotel on Thursday April 28.

“On August 20 there is a zip line across the River Foyle, the Waterside Half Marathon on September 11 are among upcoming events.” To get involved or to see a full list of events visit the Children in Crossfire webiste www.childrenincrossfire.org