Corporate Social Responsibility is a bit of a ‘buzzword’ at the moment… it is vitally important of course that corporates do take responsibility for the social impact of their initiatives and we at Friends, in particular our ChildSafe program, are working in tandem with the corporate world to develop meaningful approaches as to how they can achieve that in a ‘ChildSafe’ manner, that ensures the protection of children and families in the process.
So for example – volunteer visits to play with children for a few hours and take some pictures to demonstrate how wonderful company XXX is – not on. Disempowering activities with communities that do not build capacity and actually take jobs away from them – no. Busloads of volunteers disrupting the lives of communities and program beneficiaries with patronizing approaches – sorry, no.
We recognize that many companies and businesses are committed to supporting positive social impact initiatives, and we want to support them to do that, by finding innovative ways of harnessing their commitment and resources. What follows is an account of one such example, the recent work Friends Thailand has been doing with Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Exciting and fun, yes, but also educating, rewarding, and positively impactful… and no children were harmed during this ‘Amazing Race’!
(The report below comes from Vuthaya Charoenpol (Ann), our Country Program Director in Thailand)
‘Bangkok… Saturday May 17th… and volunteer staff from Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) joined our ‘ChildSafe Amazing Race’ to learn more about the risk situations children face on the street and able to react appropriately to protect these children. We adapted our race from the famous TV program – it would be an exciting way of educating and spreading messages about child protection, whilst still being FUN for the participants!
The Saturday’s ChildSafe Event started with a closer glimpse on holistic approaches of Friends Programs between Friends-International and Friends Thailand – how we provide services to marginalized children, youth and their families and how our teams work with government and non-profit sectors to ensure good care and education for those children.
To improve both protection and prevention, we work with all tiers and across businesses in the ‘local community’, that means getting corporate, companies, shop seller, community leader, etc. educated about the current situation, plus the possible risks and violence that children face. ChildSafe Network is a voluntary child safeguarding network, where the ChildSafe members are trained to recognize all forms of risk and danger and are equipped with ‘tools’ – hotlines to react properly to protect children as it’s an important task for every single one of us, together, to protect children and prevent them from being in harmful situations…
So, after the introduction of ChildSafe, there was a little workshop getting all staff of BAML to brainstorm on the ChildSafe Citizen Campaign for Bangkok. Here the staff showed that they were now aware of issues such as giving money to begging children and the health and safety of children.
At 1 pm prompt, the Amazing ChildSafe Race started, with five teams each comprising five BAML staff getting their first clue to take off to their first station
…Travel to Gullivers place to meet your Friends opposite a very big Landmark.
Other clues followed as they zoomed across the city!
…Our best Friends Sofi tells us that this is a great place to stay.
…Our Friend, Ronald McDonald is waiting 4 us at the gas station. On your way, get 5 Thai citizens to complete the ChildSafe Citizen Survey.
…We’re going to Paris. My Friends are meeting us at the coffee shop at the airport terminal. While you are getting there, count the number of working children that you see.
…Now go to the finish line, the Place where it’s Summer, Autumn, Winter, and Spring every day.
I must say, Tim, our Technical Adviser, was tough on the clues…take a guess? Where are these locations? It took a little while before each team found the right location!
In each location the each team was given different challenges to complete…such as
… The team must together recite the 7 Traveler Tips without looking at the card
…Each team members needs to give the ChildSafe Traveler Tips card to 3 tourists in this area
…Get 2 small businesses in this area to complete the ChildSafe Business Survey. After completing the survey, give each of the businesses a copy of the ChildSafe Hotline Card.
…Get 5 tourists in this area to complete the ChildSafe Traveler Survey. After completing the survey, give each of the tourists a copy of the ChildSafe Traveler Tips.
…Describe 3 risks begging children face in this area.
…Give a copy of the ChildSafe ‘Safety Instructions’ to 5 tourists and explain to them why giving money to begging children is harmful.
The Race ended at 4.30 pm when each team got to present their last video taken from the final spot to present what they have learned from the race.
So it was great fun, an exciting day spent in central Bangkok, but also much, much more, as the staff volunteers from BAML got to know all about the child protection work of the Peuan Peuan Team that they support and where those high risk spots for children are in the city and how they as individual citizens can help to protect children too…
Thanks again BAML for your support to the Friends Thailand program and its social workers…everyone of you can be #everyday heroes…Together, protecting children!’