Channel of Hope for child protection was implemented in Morang district since 2014. The district is located in the south-east part of Nepal that shares the border with India. The district headquarter, Biratnagar, is the second largest city in Nepal. WV has been operating an ADP in Morang district, with the office in Biratnagar, since 2005. There are nearly 965370 people in Morang district. The religion in Morang includes Hinduism, Buddhist, Muslim and Christian. Children are also involved in religious activities and holy places are trusted by people as safe places and faith leaders are revered.
The child protection issues identified during child protection assessment in 2014 in Morang district were child marriage, child labour; sexual abuse and drug abuse. Girls particularly were identified to be at risk due to being less prioritized in families for education and health care.
This project had targeted to work through faith based organizations. Faith leaders also play role in influencing the community and this was targeted to mobilize in addressing the child protection issues. In Morang, churches are keen to engage in development though Christianity is a minority religion in country and district. This project worked with the church leaders to build the understanding of churches on child protection issues and then to facilitate them to carry out their own plans to engage with the community, bringing awareness raising as well as building linkages between communities and services available to them (i.e. VCPPCs and Para-legal committees).
The project approach is adapted from “Channels of Hope for Child Protection”. The Channels of Hope for Child Protection (COH) has been piloted with faith leaders in the countries like India, Sierra Leone, Malawi, and Solomon Island, and has been instrumental in changing mindsets on child protection issues, norms and expectations. It is an innovative approach to looking at child protection issues in that it directly engages with people’s personal faith. Through this project, power relationship was explored in ways of relating with discrimination and low status of children. By reconsidering scripture texts, participants can “reconstruct” adult / child relationships and see how the interplay of culture and religion can often influence messages.
Upon the discussions with the WV Global Centre, it was agreed for Nepal to pilot COH with the Christian community. Which would later be replicated to work in Hindu context with hindu leader if there is separate funding available.