Channels of Hope is an interactive process to create a safe space for faith leaders, their spouses and faith communities to become active participants in the well-being of children through science-based information and insight from religious texts. It reaches to the root causes and deepest convictions that impact attitudes, norms, values and practices toward the most vulnerable. The process is grounded in guiding principles from participants’ religious texts and is designed to move the heart, inform the mind and motivate a sustained and effective response to significant issues. Channels of Hope does not proselytise or change people’s doctrine, but equips faith leaders to apply their religious texts to key social issues and encourage other faith leaders and faith communities to do the same.
Channels of Hope mobilises and builds on the existing competencies of community leaders, especially faith leaders and their congregations, to respond to some of the most difficult issues affecting their communities. Through this process, they are exposed to additional capacity-building efforts that may strengthen their own faith community responses.
The Channels of Hope curricula
Channels of Hope is both a methodology and a process focused on partnering with local faith leaders, their congregations and communities for sustainable solutions to community needs. There are Channels of Hope curricula around Child Protection, Ebola, Gender, HIV and AIDS, and Maternal Newborn Child Health. For each area, Channels of Hope starts with a series of workshops for faith leaders and faith community members. Participants are equipped with factual information, scriptural reflection and an understanding of the community impact and opportunities to engage, which lead to new attitudes and actions that contribute to child well-being. Sustained dialogue and relationships across and between faith communities and other community actors lead to stronger child well-being outcomes. Faith communities and partners work together for social change in prevention, advocacy and care. The Channels of Hope process is structured into four phases of activity: prepare, catayse, strategise, and empower.
Preparation begins with an overall design of the project and understanding of the context.
Through this design process, the office works to gain an understanding of what issues affect the community, map potential community stakeholders, build the capacity of those who will lead the programme, and train those who will lead the faith leader workshops.
Catalysing workshops with faith leaders and their spouses help equip them with knowledge and inspire with a vision on how they are uniquely called to respond to issues within their community.
This is done through gaining knowledge about the issue, an understanding of how the issue affects their community (head) and how their religious texts view the issue (heart), and consideration of practical steps to address the issue (hand). The workshops are a safe space for faith leaders and faith communities from various denominations or religions to learn, share and debate challenging issues surrounding child well-being grounded in guiding principles from the participants’ faith tradition(s) and religious texts. These principles address harmful attitudes and motivate and equip participants to respond in effective ways to issues surrounding the well-being of the most vulnerable children and families in their communities.
These faith leaders then take this new knowledge back to their faith community and strategise through Community Hope Action Team workshops about how they can address pressing issues within their community.
By the end of these strategising workshops, each Action Team has a plan to address the child well-being related issue of the workshop in collaboration with the wider community. These plans aim to address the wider community’s harmful attitudes, beliefs and practices while meaningfully connecting to the existing and ongoing work of the formal and informal community systems. The Action Teams then implement their action plans and influence and mobilise the local faith community and beyond.
As faith communities implement their action plans, opportunities to strengthen their capacity and engagement continue.
Through the implementation of these action plans, faith communities are empowered to contribute to meaningfully address the issues affecting the community’s most vulnerable children in tandem with wider community initiatives.
Impact in faith communities
All Channels of Hope curricula work to address beliefs, attitudes and culture that hinder the well-being of children. Through personal transformation and knowledge gained from Channels of Hope workshops, faith leaders and their congregations can become powerful agents of change within their communities engaging in advocacy and care to address systems, structures, and processes that are not working for children.