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Children Ministry: Beyond Food and Education

Written by Rebecca Lee (Programme Consultant)

When we speak of ‘children’s ministry’, the provision of food and education have been typically and extensively identified as the primary needs of impoverished children. However, after years of implementing our programmes, CEDAR and its partners have realised that providing food and education alone is necessary yet insufficient for children’s growth and, subsequently, their ability to make a living in the future. While many countries are now providing primary education for school-age children, the need for ‘children’s ministry’ remained crucial: institutional deficiencies that are deeply entrenched in social structures meant that children still face immense challenges despite having better education and a stable food supply.

For instance, the lack of educational support posed substantial challenges for the children of ethnic minorities. Growing up in a community that only speaks their mother tongue, many children of ethnic minority backgrounds are often not exposed to the official language until they attend school. The experience of a language barrier at school meant that they struggled to understand basic instructions from teachers, which caused a significant disadvantage to their learning progress and eventually disincentivised them to attend school. Such a disadvantage with learning was exacerbated by their family’s financial burden, where dropping out of school to earn wages and support one’s family. Yet how do teenagers who are barely literate and have no vocational skills make a living? While searching for jobs in the city with the help of relatives and friends is, ostensibly, a good way out, it also comes with substantial risks. Unfortunately, once entrusted to someone treacherous, these children often fall into the predicament of being trafficked, forced into backbreaking labour in hazardous environments, violated, or even forced to take obscene images to be sold on the internet, which causes profound physical and mental trauma that follows them for an inordinate length of time.

CEDAR and its partners create a safe environment for children to grow healthily in response to the community’s needs and the team’s expertise. In Afghanistan, CEDAR and its partners provide preschool education classes for ethnic minority children to learn the official language used in school. We also offer after-school tutorials for students in grades one to three, where the tutors use their native and official language for class discussions. This helps them build a solid foundation in language and learning, reducing their chance of dropping out of school.

In Thailand, CEDAR’s partner explains the situation of human trafficking in high-risk communities to prevent parents and teenagers from walking into the traps of human traffickers, invites government departments to cooperate in combating human trafficking, collects information and evidence to assist law enforcement agencies in rescuing victims of human trafficking and prosecuting human traffickers. Among the 530 people rescued by our partner in 2022, 156 were children under 18, and the three youngest victims were only 12. As many organisations have been focusing on helping women, male victims are often left with insufficient assistance. Therefore, CEDAR’s partner has set up shelter centres for male victims specifically to provide safe housing, medical care, and livelihood skills training to prevent them from falling victim to human trafficking.

The global economic downturn has reduced fundraising income for many organisations, and CEDAR is not exempt. Many partners have reported to CEDAR that they have received notices from other supporting organisations to stop or reduce funding. In the face of such a sharp decline in funds and resources, we urge everyone to stay with us and support CEDAR with prayers and donations so we can continue to walk and grow with the children and witness the love and providence of the Lord.

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Banner photo: Children of Ethnic Minorities on the Thailand-Myanmar Border


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  1. CEDAR is an approved charitable institution and trust of a public character under section 88 of the Inland Revenue Ordinance. Please visit Inland Revenue Department website for details.
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