Education and Prevention for Everyone
KFF operates solely by distributing funds directly to social service agencies. The two organizations we support, Center Dardedze in Latvia and Child Rights Information Center in Moldova, use proven, methodical approaches to enhancing youth safety and development—educating children, teachers, law enforcement officials, counselors and parents. Whether puppet shows in Latvia or school workshops in Moldova, these two agencies have for years been effectively advancing the idea that all children need and deserve safe environments in which to live, learn, play and grow. KFF will soon identify a third social service agency to receive grants. The partner will be a Native American child abuse prevention agency in the United States.
Center Dardedze – Latvia
A pioneer in helping children protect themselves, this Riga-based organization’s successful Dzimba puppet program provides information about personal safety that children can understand and enjoy. “Dzimba” in his life-size character and hand puppet versions has helped tens of thousands of Latvian kids learn what’s OK and what’s not, and acquire strategies to protect themselves. Three new films created in 2019 specifically address personal safety, sexual abuse and bullying.
The center also added a “Dzimba-on-the-Road” project in 2019, which brings the puppet program and its child abuse prevention message to remote regions of Latvia in which children, teachers and other caregivers cannot easily travel to Riga to visit the Dzimba Safety House. In 2019, 10,083 children, 7232 parents and 2505 teachers learned about personal safety from Dzimba.
Center Dardedze’s work extends far beyond Dzimba. For instance, in 2019 the agency sponsored translation and publication in Latvian of a Norwegian book, Click Here Tomas, addressing the dangers of online pornography (yes, even children need to learn that in today’s world) and has translated the program materials into Russian.
Although Latvia has enjoyed remarkable growth and stability since it joined the European Union in 2004, its social fabric still reflects aspects of its former Soviet status. More than 35% of its residents speak Russian as a primary language.
Child Rights Information Center – Moldova
Chisinau-based CRIC conducts an extensive slate of educational workshops around Moldova, bringing the message of human rights and personal safety for children to care-givers of many sorts. In 2019, presentations in 10 districts of the country brought child rights guidance to 327 teachers, 9,295 children, 5,540 parents and 2,839 other professionals such as counselors, social workers, and law enforcement officers.
Moldova is an especially challenging place for this work, as the former Soviet republic comprises many different cultures, ethnicities, religions and jurisdictions, some of which have not yet embraced 21st century attitudes regarding children and family life. Living standards are much lower than elsewhere in Europe, and the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine spills across the border, at least psychologically.
As throughout the world, COVID19 has changed daily life in Moldova, and CRIC staff members are working to adapt their programs to online distribution—and to the fact that some children in their country have no safety outlet at all if schools are closed.
Native American Child Abuse Prevention Partner – United States
Watch this space for future developments. KFF is actively looking for a child abuse prevention partner located on a reservation in the United States to serve Native American children. Reservations share many of the challenges of Latvia and Moldova. Poverty rates in these rural areas are high, the topic of child sexual abuse is taboo, and resources are in short supply and often times non-existent. KFF will identify a partner managed and operated by Native Americans, and the organization will not have a religious affiliation.
You are invited to read a report of the November 2021 visit to the Oglala Lakota and Sicangu Lakota Nations by Jay Sorensen, President of the Kids First Fund, to learn about child abuse issues on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations. This area in South Dakota may be selected as KFF’s grant destination for 2022.