Mountain Children’s Foundation » The MCF Story

The MCF Story

What We Do

The Mountain Children’s Foundation (MCF) leverages the power of collective action and the energy and idealism of youth to empower children in rural mountain regions to improve their communities from the ground up.

Our “bottom-up, inside-out” model of development generates organic, lasting impacts that strengthen communities, build citizenship, combat discrimination, and raise the profile of child rights and child participation.

Our Network

Over the past 14 years, we have developed a network of children’s groups and non-governmental organizations across the Indian state of Uttarakhand that collaborate to break down barriers for children and enhance the role of young people in transforming their communities. Our work currently touches some 120 villages, 43,408 children and 19,826 families 8 districts in Uttarakhand.

Our Impact

MCF’s child-driven model ­— by equipping young people with knowledge, leadership and communication skills­ — creates a platform for them to discuss their concerns and find realistic, locally tenable solutions. Because the problems are as varied as the communities themselves, we focus on a wide range of issues, starting with child rights and participation to health and sanitation, education, civic engagement, preserving the environment, battling disasters and turning away from practices that discriminate between genders or on the basis of caste or religion. Children are the most effective purveyors of information and persistent advocates for the causes they believe in. Thus, their impact spans multiple generations: The children themselves, their parents and, as these engaged, empowered children reach adulthood, their own children.

Across Uttarakhand, you can find evidence of dramatic transformation wrought by the children – from using India’s Right to Information Law to get action from the government to getting their communities to understand and change habits related to hygiene and sanitation to ensuring 100 percent birth registration in their communities and pushing for gender equality.

Details

The Mountain Children’s Foundation is based in Dehradun, Uttarakhand and is registered under the Indian Societies Act (863/2003-04 Renewed 343/2013-14), FCRA No. 347900144.

Annual Report

In our latest annual report see how the young people of the MCF have continued to demonstrate their dedication, creativity, and commitment to working together to improve their communities.

We successfully carried out 5 programs, including:

  • MCF CHILDLINE: An emergency helpline (1098) for children
  • MCF CRY­: Child participation, sanitation, hygiene and nutrition
  • MCF Himmotthan: Central Himalaya Education Initiative
  • MCF Leafbird Foundation: Children and disaster mitigation

In addition, we published and distributed a total of 700 copies of PABAM magazine to our children’s groups every month.

The MCF also continues to advocate on behalf of child rights and child participation, which—despite increasing attention and acknowledgement of its importance in any development effort—is often lost in the design and implementation of projects and activities on the ground. Because the needs of each community are different, we do not have a set program or agenda. We do not seek to tell communities what they should do. Instead, we offer information, activities and support around a variety of strands, including health and sanitation, child rights and participation, disaster mitigation, education, birth registration, gender equity, environmental stewardship,and governance and the Right to Information Act. We try to introduce elements of each of these strands into all the communities in which we work.

As always, the energy and enthusiasm of the young people inspires our efforts. This year, young MCF members prevented a child marriage and helped two girls to go back to school. The children of the MCF also negotiated with their community and got permission to participate in the village general meeting, which had previously only been for adults. They have persuaded their families to build and use toilets and contributed significantly to the overall cleanliness of the village.

Despite these successes, we find it is still difficult to explain the MCF’s model—of partnering with local organizations to engage and empower young people to change their communities—to many funders. This year we were invited to submit project proposals for some major funders, which we believe was an acknowledgement of the quality of our work and the role the MCF now plays as an advocate for children in mountain communities. But after months of discussion and work in putting these proposals together, we realized that while the organizations valued the MCF team’s integrity and project management skills, they had not bought into the idea of our child-driven approach. Though these projects would have brought us significantly greater funding, they would have taken the MCF away from its core mission of working through children and stretched our team too thin, so we concluded that the costs were not worth the financial benefits.

What has served the MCF well all these years is working close to the ground and being responsive to the needs and priorities of the children and working in cooperation with our local partner organizations. While it is tempting to take on a project that offers us significantly larger budgets, abandoning our model of empowering and supporting the young people to lead the way cannot serve our mission.

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