Children Are the Future (CAF) was launched in response to a severe cyclone that hit the coast of Tamil Nadu on 29 November 2000. The first action by CAF’s volunteers was the collection of funds to provide poor children affected by the storm with blankets to keep them warm. This single event marked the launch of CAF, which was registered in 2001 under Belgian law (by Pia Lovengreen, founder and president during many years), as an “Association Sans But Lucratif” (ASBL)- non-for-profit organisation, with the mission to support projects promoting the rights of the child.
Since then, CAF has continued to support projects promoting the education and welfare of children in impoverished communities with the generous help of donors and sponsors. Our first projects included buying a school bus to enable children in a community to attend the nearest school, building toilets for a local school, establishing an IT school in Thanjavur to provide teenagers with practical training, creating a Basic Care Centre for malnourished children in Kinshasa (Congo), or helping a school to improve its deteriorated infrastructure by supporting the creation of a sustainable source of income for the school to fund those renovations (Congo).
CAF also started its “One Family, One Charity” programme to support impoverished families to start up a micro-business so as to be able to provide their children with education and health care.
Following the tsunami that heavily hit the coast of Tamil Nadu on 26 December 2004, CAF launched a three-step Tsunami relief programme in the villages of Karikattukuppam and Devanerikuppam, in partnership with two local NGOs: MAEGA Trust, and with our current partner IRDRP, with Mr.Irudaysamy working as coordinator. Emergency support was provided in the first phase, including food, cooking material, clothes, blankets and shelter. In the second stage, CAF provided families with healthcare and psychological counselling to help cope with this tragedy. In the third and final stage of the programme, CAF provided families in the villages with the means to start or resume an income-generating activity, which was meant to benefit the whole village. In one village, fishermen were provided with engines for their boats so that they could resume their fishing activities. In another village, women were trained in tailoring, incense-making or supported to create telephone shops so that they could generate a daily income for their families.
In 2011, CAF members and other volunteers made a field trip to Tamil Nadu to verify the actual impact that the support of CAF had had on the lives of the families and children which had been sponsored. We could see how the families whose lives have been struck by the Tsunami had rebuilt their lives, had proper accommodation, and with the help of CAF sponsors, were running a family business that allowed their children to receive the proper care and education they deserved. Realising the change that CAF’s support had brought to these and other families encouraged us to further develop our programmes.
In recent years, CAF has been redefining its way of working and its programmes according to the lessons learned from past projects. Our yearly field trips allow us to find, together with our local partners, ways to further increase the impact of our support.
At present, CAF is supporting the education and wellbeing of more than 70 children in India and Cambodia thanks to individual sponsorships and donations. Thanks to donations to its Wellbeing and Education Fund (WELED), CAF is also supporting 8 young adults to pursue higher education or vocational training. CAF also continues to support families with children to start a small business through the Family Micro-business programme.