Monday, April 12, 2010

HRI Success Stories. Today: Stroke the Children on the groundbreaking "Stroke don't Spank" campaign

You may remember HRIs recent call for abstracts/ human interest stories. Thanks for all the awesome submissions – Nathan the intern (known to the outside world as "the panel”) is going through them and, among those that he bothers to read, he is short-listing the ones that he assumes would be more to the liking of the donor community, for ticking all the right boxes. I should add that Nathan is not paid at all, his only reward for doing all the unpleasant tasks in the office is appearing world-exploring to his facebook friends, in addition to the unrealistic hope that one day soon he’ll score a proper job with HRI. He remains motivated though and diligent in completing his tasks.

If you did not submit your abstract/ human interest story/ success story yet, you can still do it as submissions continue to be accepted (we really love to hear how our affiliates out there get the job done and, perhaps, touch a life or two).

Anyways, without further ado, let’s hear it from Mr. Jean Baptiste Clamence, Executive Director of Stroke the Children (STC), a HRI affiliate on the “south-asian subcontinent”

Dear Dr. Kurtz,

As a proud recipient and inefficient administrator of HRI's funds over the past 15 years, we at Stroke the Children are delighted to send you a summary of lessons learned from our successful "Stroke Don't Spank" Campaign. Hand Relief has supported Stroke the Children to make a positive impact on the lives of children and families, and the local economy throughout South Asia.

A brief summary of our key achievements in 2009, made possible through HRI funding:

  • Stroke's and HRI's joint Publication "Harnessing Women and Girls" provided key revenue for Mustafa Publishing House and allowed Mustafa enough income during this tough financial crisis to take on his fourth wife.
  • Through our series of 5 high-level regional workshops, we filled out a total of 200 sheets of flip paper that were then transcribed into a 40-page "Stroke Don't Spank" Workshop Results paper that included 20 tables of workshop results separated into 6 columns (Problems, Solutions, Stakeholders, Actions, Main Responsibility, Key Dates). The government authorities will now be responsible to follow up on these agreed-upon actions so that we at Stroke don't have to. In this way, we will also not need to be held accountable for results. We expect that the annual monsoons in 2010 will sufficiently divert attention away from the incomplete processes and serve as an appropriate challenge that disenabled the promised outcomes.
  • The Stroke Don't Spank Campaign has been extremely successful to date. Through this campaign, we set up a website that allows users to select whether they click on the "Stroke" icon or the "Spank" icon thus showing their support to end violence against children. In this way, visitors to the site were not mere passive observers, but were enabled to take real action (clicking on the icon) and express themselves. Visitors were invited to sign an online petition from which we will feed the "# of visitors signing petition" data into our M&E indicator matrix.
  • The Stroke Don't Spank Campaign has to date, photographed and video-taped three pilot sessions of rural men and women sitting under trees and listening to a facilitator. While we have typed "Ministry of Women and Children" into the matrix under the column "Main Responsibility" to replicate these pilot sessions across 5 regions, Stroke decided to conduct 3 initial "pilot" sessions so that we could have enough visual evidence of activity to populate our promotional materials (website, brochures, donor reports, and powerpoint presentations).
  • In these pilot sessions, participants were outnumbered 3-to-1 by NGO officials, the local Prefect, local media, and village dignitaries that were all standing around fanning themselves and congratulating each other on the success of the approach, before the facilitator even begun the 45-minute session. During this session the facilitator explained to the rural villagers who have an average of a grade 2 education, that there is a difference between gender and biological sex and that gender is something that is created. She spent the first 25 minutes asking the participants gathered under the tree to name tasks that are seen as "female only" and "male only". This segued into discussions of domestic violence as being something we can stop and then veered into child spanking. The participants, who work in back-breaking agriculture under the searing sun all day long, listened patiently as the Oregan-born facilitator spoke kindly and scanned the group to see the "aha" moment. The unmarried, childless facilitator then went on to explain that discipline is important but that it does not need to involve corporal punishment. The pilot session was a huge success because after only 10 minutes of discussing why we must Stroke and not Spank our children, the men and women gathered under the tree agreed unanimously that yes, they and their entire ancestry have been going about child discipline in the wrong manner and that from that point forward, instead of raising their hand, they would count to 10 and take 5 deep breaths, before reacting. In merely a 45 minute session, the entire socio-cultural fabric of a community was revealed as illegitimate and people that suffer from chronic worms and whose feet are constantly cracked from walking barefoot, accepted the error of their historical ways and agreed that they from now on would squeeze the branded Stroke Don't Spank Campaign yellow stress balls to release their frustration.
Finally, and most importantly, our key finding from this experience is that by focusing our advocacy efforts on the offensive behaviours of society's vulnerable (the poorest of the poor), we are able to detract attention from the fact that we are impotent to express outrage toward the most serious human rights violations. By focusing on impoverished rural parents' child discipline practices, we present ourselves as outraged against abuses and taking action to eliminate them...while all this while we don't once ever publicly decry the Government Leaders, local Mafia Networks, the corrupt Police, anti-Unionists, or Big Business for the myriad ways they oppress human rights, jail and torture activists, and block economic progress for the poor. By making next to no reference whatsoever to the gross land rights abuses inflicted on the landless poor - something which we are completely helpless to tackle and indeed personally terrified to do - we instead highlight sensational and horrifying child spanking stories to our constituents in donor countries. We thus gain the financial donations while never having to actually address the underlying politico-economic landscape that creates stressed-out parents. Through photographing workshops and taking note of 2 or 3 participant quotes - we are able to demonstrate that change is possible, without ever having to change anything.

You may have noticed that this format does not follow your request for an abstract but is rather a few bullet points. In the first sentence, I erased the word "abstract" and replaced it with the word "summary" so that I could avoid the necessary work it takes to fashion a proper abstract. I thought you would appreciate this as its very much in line with the spirit of our work.

Once again, without Hand Relief, we would not be able to truly....Stroke the Children.

Very truly yours,

Jean-Baptiste Clamence

Ex. Dir., Stroke the Children

No comments:

Post a Comment