TORONTO, Aug. 20, 2018 /CNW/ - Recently, the horrific plight of child migrants from Central America created both empathy and outrage throughout Canada, North America and the entire world. We watched news images of families who risk everything – separation, incarceration and even death – in search of a better life. For most, it was the frightened, desperate faces of the children that were particularly heart-wrenching. But what we witnessed through newscasts is only a fraction of the dangerous reality that actually affects so many young people living without safety, security or opportunity. Every day, youth in some of the most desperate countries in the world are faced with crime, violence and the drug trade. Coupled with limited employment and educational opportunities, these youth are pulled into a downward spiral of hopelessness and struggle to find a better future for themselves and their families.
Now, Canadians are playing a vital role in giving hope to these children. Christian Children's Fund of Canada (CCFC) is implementing a unique program called PICMCA – Preventing Irregular Child Migration in Central America – to help youth in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua. A four-year, $15.2-million project, PICMCA is a joint venture between the CCFC, Global Affairs Canada which provided $12.6 million in funding, ChildFund International and Educo.
- El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico have emerged as some of the most dangerous countries in the world outside of active war zones, with soaring homicide rates.
- All unaccompanied minors, regardless of their age are particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation; their basic rights aren't always observed. (IOM, 2010)
- Girls who are experiencing (or have experienced) gender-based violence, and particularly sexual violence, may see migration as a way to escape that violence. For boys, it can be a route to avoid or escape getting caught up in gang-related violence.
"Migration is an issue that affects the entire world. Christian Children's Fund of Canada wants to provide hope at home for young people most vulnerable to irregular migration," says Patrick Canagasingham, Chief Executive Officer of Christian Children's Fund of Canada. "Through PICMCA, we will help give kids hope, training and education in their own country. We are harnessing their positivity and turning their dreams into realities while helping them stay in the communities they love with the families they love."
The Root Causes of Irregular Migration
PICMCA is working to address three key issues that most often lead to irregular migration: (1) High levels of crime and violence caused by socio-economic conditions and drug trade, (2) Limited employment and educational opportunities and associated social exclusion, and (3) Lack of awareness of the dangers of irregular child migration.
Making a Real Difference
Helping 129 communities in Mexico and Central America with high levels of vulnerability and risk for irregular migration, PICMCA project is expected to benefit 230,000 people, 130,000 of whom are children and youth. PICMCA has three key areas of focus for making a real difference: (1) Keeping children and youth safe through training at all levels, (2) Improving employment opportunities for youth, and (3) Improving youth leadership.
For more information about the root causes of irregular migration and how CCFC is making a real difference, click HERE.
This Approach Works:
CCFC has experienced tremendous success with youth-oriented programs in these regions. Axel, of Managua, Nicaragua benefitted from a similar, life-changing program: "The CCFC-supported youth group gave me and others in my community a safe place to learn about possibilities and new opportunities. I've now graduated with a Systems and Technologies Engineering degree and I also have a degree in Leadership and Political Management. And best of all, I have a bright future ahead of me. This program truly changed the course of my life and the lives of my family."
"We cannot look away and ignore vulnerable children. As global citizens, we must help keep them safe, and provide them with real options for the future," adds Mr. Canagasingham. "CCFC is part of the solution. We've witnessed the positive effects our programs can have, and we look forward to PICMCA helping to improve the lives of these at-risk children who are desperately searching for hope."
Learn more about the work CCFC is undertaking in Central America by viewing the Irregular Child Migration in Central America PICMCA video outlining the issue and solutions on the CCFCanada YouTube page. To support this project, visit ccfcanada.ca/hopeathome. Video and images of affected youth and CCFC's work in Central America are available.
About Christian Children's Fund of Canada:
Christian Children's Fund of Canada (CCFC) is a child-centred international development organization and a member of ChildFund Alliance. For nearly 60 years, CCFC has worked with children, communities, supporters and other partners — changing lives through improved health, education and clean water. CCFC works in 12 countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas, to support more than 700,000 children, youth and community members.
SOURCE Christian Children's Fund of Canada
For further information: or to arrange an interview with Patrick Canagasingham, Chief Executive Officer of Christian Children's Fund, please contact: Sara Beckford at Strategic Objectives, Email: [email protected], Tel: 416.366.7735, Ext. 275; Cell: 416.262.7241