Dr. Belinda Bennet to lead global policy and programs work from Global South, making us more agile to address root issues preventing the vulnerable from realizing their basic rights
By Patrick Canagasingham, CEO, email@example.com
Time flies. It’s a cringe-worthy cliché, but it’s true. It’s already been a year since I joined Christian Children’s Fund of Canada, and through collaboration, we’ve achieved a lot across our seven offices around the world.
We’ve been planning for the future. And, through thoughtful discussion, it’s become clear we need to be more intentional about addressing root causes of issues preventing children from reaching their full potential.
What does that mean? Imagine a school is renovated in India to accommodate more students. That won’t help if girls don’t have toilets to use during their monthly cycle. It won’t help if they’re still walking hours daily to collect fresh water and don’t have time to attend school or, worse, if their parents place them in early, forced marriages and they’re compelled to drop out of school.
Although we’ve followed these tenets of operation for years, we’re redefining our intent and our operating structure to make us more agile in our mission.
We’re more actively working with our office teams in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Nicaragua and Paraguay to envision a global community where children and youth are encouraged to use their voice to tackle deep-rooted barriers to realizing their basic rights. It’s a world where they’ll be safe from violence and their gender won’t hold them back.
We’re solidifying partnerships with the private sector, government agencies, other international non-governmental agencies, local civil-society partners and academics to ensure we’re addressing issues at their core.
Dr. Belinda Bennet will be integral to pushing this agenda forward around the world, as she steps in as the chief international program officer to oversee our country offices from India, beginning June 1. Our current country director in India brings more than three decades of experience with international development agencies, national civil-society and community-based organizations and citizens’ groups.
She’s also initiated greater strategic collaboration with the private sector, including pioneering a partnership with Google India and Tata Trust, to enhance digital literacy and women’s empowerment in our program areas.
A respected leader from the Global South, with a Masters in Philosophy in Psychiatric Social Work and Doctorate in Social Work, Belinda’s played a strategic role in bringing issues of social exclusion to the forefront. She’s worked with the most marginalized, including children living on the street and facing disabilities. I’ve been convicted by her authentic and legitimate insight.
Personally, I’ve seen how much passion Belinda pours into simply helping people. In fact, she’s working on a blog to be posted on our site later this month. It’s about how we’re addressing early, forced marriage in India.
She understands the message, but, more importantly, she believes in the positive change we can make in the lives of children, their families and their communities around the world. Belinda will work closely with me to refocus CCFC’s programs more geographically and thematically, and expand our influencing work to drive systemic change.
It’s a new chapter at CCFC, but, as always, we remain committed to living out the mission our predecessors set more than 60 years ago. It’s a promise to follow the example of Christ and serve the most vulnerable and marginalized regardless of their faith, culture or background. I’m passionate about moving forward with a refined operating model to address our reinvigorated goals. Stay tuned.