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Using Tech for Good to Support Ugandans to Restore the Social Fabric

Updated: Oct 13, 2022

by kate mcalpine

Hope and Homes for Children contracted ConnectGo & Citizens 4 Change to develop and pilot mobile and face-to-face technology that may enhance the effectiveness of community-based child protection mechanisms that are being supported by Child’s i Foundation.

On a visit to Uganda we learnt about the child protection volunteers’ and staff’s personal motivation; and thus opportunities for the ConnectGo tech to incentivise individuals’ continued engagement and effectiveness. We explored the “why” and “how” of Childs I Foundation and their community development networks. Doing so guides the design of SMS surveys that we plan to use to help to monitor the volunteers’ work and track their impact.

Child protection volunteers are motivated by a desire to build a fairer society where everyone belongs.

“I’ve always been doing this as a volunteer, so I am someone who can change the community.”

“I’m a teacher who wants to change the world.”

“I want everyone to know the rights of children and other people.”

“I want to share my experience with other people in the world.”

Community volunteers take preventative action to protect children from harm by creating community awareness about children’s rights and the importance of family. They also respond by identifying and responding to child protection cases.

Community volunteers self-identify not only as as a mother, parent, community leader or Christian, but as someone who is trusted and valued by their community.

“People believe I can help.”

They are motivated by a moral drive to help, that they often experience as pain at others’ suffering and fear for our future if children are not supported and subsequently derail as adults. This is founded in empathy for others that stems from their own childhood; where they either “knew what it is to lack” or experienced “care as a young person by someone who was not my real mother.”

“If I was not helped I would not be doing what I’m doing.”

The desire to give back to society is reflected in their beliefs about citizenship and childhood. Specifically, that families should care for their own and that all children should be safe and cared for in families, and that they should “grow up free, confident and exercising their rights.”

Volunteers have a strong sense of agency as protectors of children. They want to be the voice of children; to see “children smile and be happy” and possess a “passion and desire to make a difference in their lives.” Volunteers are nourished by their relationships with children, and love seeing the positive impact of a child living in a healthy and supportive family.

Appreciation, celebration, relationships and evidence of impact will sustain volunteers’ passion.

Volunteers motivation is intrinsic. Their behaviour arises from within the individual because it is naturally satisfying. However, volunteers are working on the frontline of human trauma and there is no guarantee that their motivation will sustain unaided.

Volunteers explain that their passion could be enhanced and sustained by

Acknowledgement & appreciation: A simple “thank you” or “May God bless you”.

Affirmation by local leaders, & recognition & assistance by the police.

Cross cultural celebration and relationships with other volunteers from East Africa where they learn from each other.

Logistical facilitation & support with transport; smartphones to improve communication & efficiency.

Opportunities for self & professional development, specifically more knowledge about child protection.

Evidence of impact: Success stories of their effect in changing lives and families thriving.

The ConnectGo tech has the potential to help Childs I Foundation to reveal and scale their impact for children.

The ConnectGo technology helps development agencies scale their social impact by using mobile messaging to map, track, communicate with and mobilise communities. It supports agencies like Child’s I Foundation to

1. Understand their context, by identifying citizens who are agents for change and understanding their belief systems, relationships and behaviours.

2. Listen to citizens’ views and take them through an educational journey.

3. Visualise the impact being achieved by bringing to life people’s stories of change.

In Makindye and Tororo we will be piloting the ConnectGo tech with community volunteers to enhance their motivation. Each month 40 volunteers will receive surveys that ask them to tell us how they have reached and protected children. We will share their stories of success with their peers, reminding them how appreciated they are.

The tech helps to further explore what volunteers do know; and in doing so can inform a series of educational messages on child protection.

ConnectGo’s mobile technology should support volunteers to better monitor their work and to build their knowledge. It should enable CiF to better understand the motivations, actions and impacts being achieved by volunteers; and it should provide data analytics that enables CiF to rigorously test their assumption that the volunteer model can deliver high quality social work and results for children.

The ConnectGo technology will be valuable in demonstrating that there is a groundswell of Ugandans who are striving to do the right thing by children, families and communities. In doing so it will reveal community strengths and counter the deficit based narrative that so often characterises conversations about child protection in East Africa.

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