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waving and smiling children in school uniform
Child Development Centres

Bengali girl“Hello, I'm Nupur from Bangladesch. My dad has a little shop. But he doesn't earn a lot and often we don't have enough to eat. I've always dreamed of being able to go to school some day and I was so sad when I saw other kids go. My parents would try to comfort me and say, one day, when we have more money, you can go.

But that day never came.

Bengali girl readingThen my father heard about a new child development centre on the local market. He talked to my mother about it and they both felt it sounded good. So my father enrolled me there. At first I was a bit afraid to go to this place all by myself. But the teachers were really nice and took good care of me. So I got used to the school and the other kids. Now I participate in everything at the centre. Singing and drawing are my favourite! My parents are happy that I'm doing so well.

My dream came true in the CDC! Now I want to keep learning more and more!”

Through sponsorships and general donations for child development centres and other child projects Helping Hands is supporting hundreds of children in more than 15 countries worldwide. For children like Nupur, education is a dream come true and opens doors for the future, doors that their social and cultural environment would otherwise have kept closed. What's important, however, is that CDCs don't just offer short-term assistance but long-term, holistic development.

"Child-focussed community development" is the concept that CDCs are based on. It concentrates on addressing all of the children's needs, but also effecting long-term transformation in the children's families, communities and society.

In CDCs children receive homework help and tuition or regular school classes as well as vocational training. In many centres (depending on the need) children receive a healthy meal or snack 5–6 days a week; they receive basic health care (doctor check-ups, immunizations) and learn about hygiene and other important topics.

The children sing, play and do crafts in the centre, hear stories, learn more about their culture and celebrate national holidays with special activities or festivities. Their social skills are developed and they also learn about their rights and privileges as members of their society. A special emphasis is laid on creativity and the discovery and development of individual strengths; children with learning difficulties also receive special attention and help.

The teachers offer love and care to the children, show concern about their emotional well-being and offer counselling and advice. That's what holistic development is about: to equally address the physical, mental, social, emotional and spiritual needs of the children.

CDCs also have a lot of influence on the children's families and communities and ultimately on the whole society. Parents (if illiterate) learn to read and write, and regularly attend awareness raising sessions on different topics.

Mothers are shown how to plant small vegetable gardens (seeds and tools are provided by the CDC) and learn how to prepare nutritious and balanced meals with locally available ingredients. Women are encouraged to form self-help groups; they receive loans and are supported in the establishment of micro enterprises.

Helping Hands supports two different types of child development centres: in some countries, where not all of the children have the opportunity to attend a government school, CDCs offer primary school classes (according to the national curriculum) that usually take place in the mornings. In countries with compulsory school attendance, CDCs offer homework help and extra tuition to underprivileged children; the program is usually conducted in the afternoons after regular school classes are finished.

In pictures: The support of a Helping Hands child development centre generally includes most or all of the following aspects (depending on location and needs—move your mouse over the picture to read a description):

buildingteacherbooksschool bagsschool uniforms

nutritionkitchenmedical checkupchildren brushing their teethsanitation

tubewellsports equipmentcultural celebrationshome gardenwomen