The Monthly Meeting on March 19th was a bit of a special one in the Heidelberg IWC’s (short) history. Along with the usual Meeting agenda (chatting, Club updates and a guest speaker), the Members held an Extraordinary General Meeting to vote on the Constitution, the Executive Board and to join FAWCO. Read more about the EGM and the HIWC making history.
After the EGM finished, Founder and newly-elected President Christine Funke gave the Club updates, mostly about upcoming events. After that, the group of 14 took a break before guest speaker, Jenny Ciucci, began her talk.
Jenny, a Heidelberg IWC Member, told us a little bit about her and her journey to starting a nonprofit organization in northern Cambodia helping children get an education. She is an Italian American who grew up in Switzerland, and after spending a few years in Thailand, she moved to Cambodia to work with a local NGO supporting women and girls with HIV/AIDS in Battambang, near the Thai border.
Though she was working with these women and children in the community, there was still a lower class of children she calls the “invisible” children. They are so poor and vulnerable that even many groups don’t want to engage with them at all. After spending two years there, she had to make the decision whether to return back to Europe and find a “normal” job or stay and continue the work she was actively engaged in.
With her friend, Andrew Wolff, they wanted to set up a nonprofit to support other nonprofits and organizations working in the community. However, after doing research on these groups, they realized they couldn’t in good faith support them with their time, expertise or money. Therefore, they started their own nonprofit, Children’s Future International (CFI), to work with the most vulnerable children and families in their adopted home.
Jenny told us how the organization supports over 270 children and their families, with not only education, but housing security, agricultural support, and emergency intervention when a child goes missing (most likely trafficked into child labor or prostitution). Their social worker staff works with the children individually, and she shared with us multiple success stories of children who have been brought into their system and are graduating at school and thriving in life. Many of them come back to CFI as interns and want to continue doing work in their community. As for the future, Jenny sees their growing network and influence in the community, region and nationally as the key to sustainable support for the children of Cambodia.
Thank you Jenny! Your wonderful talk and beautiful photos conveyed the passion you have for your work. We look forward to supporting you and the children you work with!http://www.childrensfuture.org/