Why I care about Action 2015
A blog by Sue Tinney, World Vision child sponsor and World Vision Ambassador
A long time child sponsor, I’m passionate about supporting World Vision’s work, and a few years ago I became an ambassador too. I’ve been going to schools and giving presentations intermittently over the past few years, talking about the changes I’ve seen in my sponsored child Laurent’s community in Senegal. Still, I felt very honoured when I received an email in February, inviting me to represent World Vision at an Action/2015 event in London. The event was amazing; I met representatives from other charities, as well as policy makers, government ministers and opposition members. Delegates travelled from around the UK and from as far afield as Brazil, India and South Africa.
The event was the last opportunity for organisations to engage policy makers prior to the next set of meetings on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Baroness Northover, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development, opened the event by welcoming the assembled delegates and government officials.
Currently there are 17 Sustainable Development Goals, but they are not being prepared as an all-inclusive list of requirements. Instead, they’re meant to be a list from which nations can pick and choose those that are relevant and practical for them. Organisations like World Vision will work with communities to achieve the goals that are most important to them, and help them to challenge central governments on their progress when necessary.
Young people involved in the Action/2015 event were very excited at being part of this process and see the SDGs as their challenge. They want to make sure the SDGs are achievable, and that the goals are chosen carefully to make sure they're the best ones suited to bringing the most change in the places that most require it. They believe change is accomplished by involving the ‘grassroots’ and providing them with the relevant education, training and motivation.
The morning session closed with a feeling of hope that every socio-economic group will be included in the new SDGs and that National Governments will meet their responsibilities. It was also agreed that governments need to be prepared to enshrine change, improve communication with the general public about the new goals, and ensure that NGOs are fully supported in the delivery of their projects.
In the afternoon we spoke with opposition politicians, which gave us the opportunity to question their commitment to delivering the SDGs. I was reassured to hear that there is a consensus across all our UK political parties to continue to challenge governments abroad on topics like taxation and budgetary transparency, sustainable productivity and safe working environments.
The discussion focussed on healthcare and human rights, particularly for the women who make up 66% of the world’s workers but own just 1% of global property. Workers’ rights and greater transparency - to protect people from risking their lives to produce goods, were also questions about which we were all concerned.
Throughout the day, equality and inequality were reoccurring themes underpinning topics like healthcare, human rights, education, taxation, water, sanitation, trade, energy, technology and justice.
So, how will these Sustainable Development Goals make a difference to Laurent in Senegal?
During my time as a sponsor, new preschool classrooms, which will now fall under the Sustainable Development Goals of ‘Education for All’ and ‘Equality’, have been built. New classrooms have also been built for senior school children, which ensure that their education can continue without disruptions due to bad weather, or snake or scorpion bites. A new toilet block on the same site also ensures privacy for the girls, particularly when they reach puberty, which allows them to continue their education - ‘Inclusion for All.’
A birth registration project, now fully completed, involved talking to village elders and teachers about the importance of a birth certificate so a child can go to school, avoid child labour, or get medicine when they’re sick. Under the ‘Left Behind’ policy no child will be without access to public services like healthcare or education.
An ambulance has also been provided in the ten years I’ve been sponsoring, which now serves several communities. The ambulance helps locally trained healthcare workers reach a wider area to deliver immunisation programmes, carry out health checks, check on newborns, provide a delivery facility and get patients to hospital in Dakar when they need further treatment. Training the healthcare workers about maternal health and newborn baby care has resulted in a reduction in under-nourished babies and post-natal problems.
Finally, a very successful market garden project has provided the community with skills in crop production, building and maintaining irrigation systems. The result is a better nourished population with surplus produce, which provides an income for families and gives them financial security. The installation of wells has also reduced the distances villagers travel to fetch water, providing clean safe water with the associated health benefits.
In the future, the hope is that the Sustainable Development Goals will provide a framework for other communities to experience the same improvements Laurent’s community has experienced over the past decade. The future benefits of the SDGs can easily be seen in the numerous countries where World Vision has supported communities over many years ensuring sustainable, motivated and responsible people. You can find out more information about Action/2015 here.