Feature

Child's i founder calls on creative industries to pitch in to change lives

Lucy Buck, founder and CEO of the Child's i Foundation, and Jonathan Durden, creative consultant and strategic adviser, discuss the opportunity for creative people to effect change with the Child's i Foundation.

Child's i founder calls on creative industries to pitch in to change lives

In the seemingly unending quest to get more for less it is all too easy to lose yourself in the process. In September’s Campaign Jonathan Durden wrote eloquently on his life-changing experience with the Child’s i Foundation, an organisation based in Uganda that helps reunite abandoned babies, often infected with Aids, with families.

Now Lucy Buck, the founder and CEO of the Child’s i Foundation, and Durden are calling on the creative industries to use their talent and skills to work with their communications team in Uganda to develop campaigns to change the way the 50,000 children in orphanages in Uganda and 8 million worldwide are cared for.

Buck, who has a background in TV production on Big Brother, Love Island and Hell's Kitchen, founded the Child’s i Foundation in 2008 after volunteering in an orphanage and seeing first hand the damage of institutional care on children. She wanted to prove that it was possible to find every child a loving Ugandan family and transform a system.

For Durden, his experience with Child’s i was nothing short of life-altering. He explains: "My experience with Childs i, and the shock of being immersed into Uganda, changed my life forever. I lost all sense of personal fear."

He adds: ‘I would urge the most creative talent in our business to embrace this real-world horror, and to make a genuine difference."

A leap of faith

Buck originally set up the Child’s i Foundation to build better orphanages, after volunteering in an orphanage in Uganda fundamentally changed the course of her life forever. She explains: "A little four-month baby called Abraham was abandoned and tragically died in the orphanage. I realised that in his short life no one had loved him and no one cared that he had died." It was then she knew she had to leave her job; originally with the hope of setting up an organisation to build a ‘better’ orphanage, before realising this was not the right approach.

She explains: "Luckily a child protection expert intervened and helped me understand that orphanages are not the right solution. Over 80% of the children in orphanages have parents. These people have made the heartbreaking decision to give up their babies to an orphanage believing that it will offer them a better life. But the children will often suffer abuse or neglect, they are at risk of trafficking and even in the best orphanages their life chances are greatly reduced."

So with this in mind the Child’s i Foundation tried a new approach and over the past eight years the organisation has been dedicated to proving that children in orphanages can grow up in families. She explains: "For those children with parents, we resettle them with their own families by giving them the right support and for those without we find loving Ugandan adoptive or foster families for them."

Creativity for good

For the Child’s i Foundation, harnessing the skills of the creative industries has been key to growth. Buck explains that during his trip to Uganda, Durden helped the team develop its national adoption campaign to promote local adoption so that abandoned children in orphanages can be found loving Ugandan families. "When we started adoption was uncommon but now we have a small but growing waiting list of adoptive parents," explains Buck.

She adds: "Our vision today is that every child in Uganda should grow up in a loving family. We know it’s possible and it is the best solution but there are thought to be more than 50,000 children still languishing in orphanages. Too many people still believe that orphanages are good without understanding the damage they can do."

Now what can you can do

But this work is just beginning and Buck is calling on other individuals and organisations in the creative industries to pledge their support and skills. She explains: "We need campaigns that will convince people to invest in supporting families, campaigns that will persuade donors who fund orphanages to divert their money to support orphanages to repurpose into services that support children in families. We need campaigns to encourage more families to adopt or foster children and we need campaigns to persuade families to hold on to their own children. We need to win over hearts and minds of a nation and we are calling on you to give us your brains, your passion and your creativity to help us bring meaningful change for the world’s most vulnerable children."

Durden, who has previously shared with Campaign how life-changing his own experience with the Child’s i Foundation was, adds: "How often are we focused on selling earplugs or dishwasher tablets? This is a chance to actually change the world, and give some abandoned babies a chance of a life."

If you are reading this and would like to help then please get in touch. You can contact Lucy or Jonathan directly on: lucy@childsifoundation.org

Alternatively if you want to make a donation to the Child’s i Foundation you can do so here