Child's Dream Foundation is a charitable not-for-profit organization founded by Daniel Siegfried and Marc Jenni in 2003. The foundation is dedicated to empowering marginalised children, youth and communities in the Mekong Sub-Region of Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia. The primary goals of Child's Dream are to enhance the quality of healthcare, to reduce child mortality, construct educational facilities to provide basic education and higher education, and provide scholarship programs and employment opportunities to families and communities. By addressing health, basic education, and higher education, Child's Dream works to minimize poverty by providing socioeconomic opportunities to help improve the future of each person's life. In order to work in different countries, the organization has legal entities in Switzerland, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Hong Kong.
History and development
Siegfried and Jenni worked as private bankers for a global financial services company in Hong Kong. While traveling through Asia, they saw firsthand the poverty and inequality that still exists in certain areas and communities. With each trip their desire to take action grew. In 2003 Jenni and Siegfried rented an office in Chiang Mai, Thailand and registered Child's Dream Association as a Swiss charity. Two years later Child's Dream was also registered as a foundation in Thailand.
With Child's Dream, Jenni and Siegfried focus on underprivileged children in the Mekong Sub-Region, an area formerly known for its opium production, corruption, drug trade, and human trafficking. The people living in this region are often exposed to poverty, disease, sexual exploitation, and political persecution. Additionally, this area is home to many refugees and illegal migrants who have no political rights or access to education and healthcare.
Child's Dream has continued to expand and currently has offices in Thailand, Myanmar, and Cambodia. As of December 2015, Child's Dream has built 222 school buildings and 43 boarding houses, helped 840 students through scholarships, and organized healthcare programmes for over 15,000 children. Additionally, around 1,300 children have received life-saving treatments and surgeries.
Marc Jenni is head of operations and uses his financial experience to keep the operational costs of Child's Dream as low as possible, while providing maximum transparency to donors. Daniel Siegfried is head of projects and is responsible for project planning and implementation. He is also part of the Project Evaluation Committee (PEC) which prioritizes potential projects, based on viability, local community support and other factors.
Child's Dream's mission is to give every underprivileged child in Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia a healthy upbringing and a decent education so they can lead a self-determined life. In order to empower marginalized communities in the Mekong Sub-Region Child's Dream also helps young adults to acquire the necessary skill sets needed to shape their own future.
Child's Dream uses strict guidelines towards its projects and donors. These include sound financial management, maintaining personal relationships with donors, and a bottoms-up approach in development assistance.
The bottoms-up approach starts with regular visits to local communities by staff members, establishing a trusting relationship. Only when these communities are willing to work with Child's Dream are project proposals drafted, based on the needs of the children and the local community.
During the construction or implementation of a project, Child's Dream staff regularly checks and evaluates the progress made. When finalized, Child's Dream maintains contact with the communities, regularly monitoring the project, ensuring it continues to be a financially sound and sustainable investment. Donors are regularly updated on the progress and sustainability of these projects.
Child's Dream prides itself on being transparent and financially efficient. Administration costs are kept well below the industry average, and project reports with detailed expenses are sent to donors. Child's Dream annual reports can be found on their website.
In 2015, 16 percent of donations are spent to improve basic health conditions. Children get dewormed, immunized, and given vitamins. These interventions help to reduce childhood mortality, which is high in remote areas. The Children's Medical Fund provides lifesaving operations to hundreds of critically ill children from Myanmar and Laos who are unable to afford treatment.
Accounting for 52 percent of total project expenditures in 2015, basic education (BE) is a core competency of Child's Dream. The group builds educational facilities such as schools and boarding houses to offer basic education to all children. This sometimes also includes providing facilities with drinking water systems, playgrounds, solar charging stations, and extracurricular activities. In addition, Child's Dream runs a high school scholarship programme for underprivileged youth.
Higher education (HE) accounts for 32 percent of the project budget. It creates opportunities for employment and income generation, knowledge and skills transfer, as well as community capacity building. The group runs a university scholarship programme and several employment centres for young adults. Child's Dream is also the biggest provider of high school education in refugee camps along the Thai-Myanmar border. Child's Dream run a social entrepreneurship grant (SEG) scheme that allows graduates of its higher education initiatives to seek funding for social business ventures.
The movie about Child's Dream Child's Dream – Zwei Banker auf Sinnsuche by Urs Frey aired on Swiss television on 30 December 2012 and 2 January 2013. Child's Dream was featured in the fourth episode of Wheel2Wheel, which was shown on National Geographic and on the entertainment programme of Cathay Pacific and SBS.