Viva’s phone mentoring programme is exceeding expectations, as it positively impacts thousands of children and families worldwide facing increasingly desperate times because of COVID-19.
The initiative has been developed collaboratively by Viva’s global team over the past six months in response to the emerging realities of the pandemic.
Restrictions have made it difficult for Viva’s partner networks to carry out the usual face-to-face activities and support for children and families, who face a number of challenges such as lack of education and employment, food shortages, mental health issues and increased risk of domestic violence, exploitation and trafficking.
Our local, grassroots partner networks needed to keep reaching children and families during this time, but in many locations families do not have internet access and the networks needed to find new ways to connect with and support children.
This new programme is based on weekly phone calls over six weeks with one parent and one child in a family. The sessions are based on the COVID-19 parenting tips material and Viva’s existing work in mentoring and child protection.
Phone calls cover six themes: COVID-19 awareness, building strong relationships within the family, mental health and resilience, staying safe at home, staying safe online and learning together every day.
The aim is that children and parents will explore these themes together and then, as a result of the actions they take each week, build stronger relationships and reduce the risk of violence at home.
By the end of September 2020, the phone mentoring had reached 19,000 children in 16 countries, and we have been able to track more than 27,000 specific actions completed by both adults and children following the phone calls.
More than 960 individual mentors from 246 churches and organisations had made phone calls.
The results of the programme so far are showing that it is helping children feel safe and listened to at home, and parents are able to enjoy spending time with their children more and finding new ways to deal with stress and anger.
The proportion of children now able to talk to their parents about their problems most or all of the time has increased from 35 per cent to 60 per cent in just a few months.
A mentor in India shared that, “Children are now doing some painting and craft or other activities, instead of before when they were just sitting at home doing nothing. Many are helping their parents, and family relationships are being restored.”
In Kathmandu, Nepal, a mentor told us: “Families already knew about washing their hands, using sanitiser and wearing masks, but not in detail. Now they know how to apply it practically and more specifically. They are very thankful to Viva for running this programme.”
And a Syrian mother, who is a refugee in Lebanon, said, “Thank you for calling me. You are the only one who calls me from Lebanon! I feel loved when I talk to you.”
This programme is made possible by Viva’s model of bringing together the skills of local, grassroots church and community workers into a network which is committed to keep children safe in their cities.
- Give thanks for the success of the phone mentoring programme already, and pray that children and families will feel supported, more positive and more resilient through each conversation.
- Pray for encouragement and energy for the hundreds of volunteer phone mentors, and for the training of further mentors in the months ahead.