The Power of Student Action

A blog piece by C4C

Whilst the world’s young people have been making their voices heard about climate change led in large part by Greta Thunberg, at #Citizens4Change we have been in the ‘Identification Mega Phase’ of building our community. The aim of this phase is to get as many citizens from the wards of Arusha City to sign-up and join our community of child protectors. In five weeks, we’ve covered five wards including, Ungalimited, Sononi, Daraja II, Sombetini and Mirieth, reaching a total of 1091 new #Citizens4Change!

A large part of our success in these months was due to the amazing student volunteers who joined us and helped us sign up new protectors. Our data shows that during the two-week school holiday in August when we had high numbers of student volunteers working with us, we added more #Citizens4Change than in any of the other regions, in which student volunteer support was not in action. In a time where students globally are feeling empowered to take action and are seeing a change in public and political dialogue because of their actions, we’re delighted that students in Tanzania have the opportunity to take action on something that they feel is important, through volunteering with us.

So why were the students so effective?

The students who volunteered with us, many from The School of St Jude, demonstrated high levels of motivation for the cause. They were passionate about the need for change and this perhaps resulted in more sign ups from those they met. It may be that there passion and desire for change is as a result of them being young people, who still remember the impact of a lack of child protection for them as they grew up or even the benefit they had from knowing someone in their lives who valued children highly and protected them from the potential risks many face as they grow up.

How can we motivate adults in the same way?

Whilst high engagement and motivation has been central in the student volunteers, we have struggled to find the same levels of consistent motivation from the adult volunteers. From our own research we know that volunteers are often intrinsically motivated, yet the monetary allowance we are offering to cover their costs for the time they take to support us seems to be the motivator and once they’ve received this, many seem to disengage. Perhaps it is because the monetary value is not high enough or the ‘certificate of recognition’ at the end of the process is not providing incentive. It could also reflect that we are not targeting those who do have genuine intrinsic motivation to help us effectively. Perhaps we need to reconsider how and where we locate our volunteers.

An alternative theory might be that these adults feel disconnected from the issue as their own recollection of childhood is not front of mind and other challenges of adult life may take priority.

In our reflections, we have also considered how to create a more professional and official appearance, so that our volunteers can feel part of something significant and confident in their approaches to members of the public. To do so, we are considering exploring options of branded t-shirts and more formal volunteer ID. This could make adults who may feel uncomfortable approaching strangers to discuss the topic with them, less so and feel more legitimate.

As we move forward, we will continue to reflect on what works best and how we can best grow the community of protectors so that every child in East Africa experiences a safe and happy childhood.

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THE C4C APPROACH 

  • WE BELIEVE that if every adult is empowered to protect children then we can collectively build safe and inclusive societies for everyone in Africa.

  • WE IDENTIFY Citizens 4 Change who protect children via household surveys, com-munity meet-ups and our civil society partners, finding out about their mind-sets and actions via interviews, surveys and polls.

  • WE USE CIVIC TECH to map Citizens 4 Change and visualise their impact.

  • WE EQUIP Citizens 4 Change with new knowledge, tools and relationships, via access to online courses and community conversations.

  • WE MOBILISE Citizens 4 Change to take more action to protect children, spread the word about the C4C community, create demand for their local leaders to invest in children’s services, and participate in community planning and budgeting processes.

WE BELIEVE IN CHANGE

Citizens 4 Change (C4C) is a community of East African citizens who do the right thing by children and young people. Our mission is to widen the circle of care so that every child has a trusted, supportive adult in their lives, and is protected from harm.

Inspired By These Narratives?

As long as poverty, injustice & inequality persist, none of us can truly rest. It doesn’t take much to change a life, Get in touch today and start making the difference.

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