why do we help our grantees contribute to CBO-to-policymaker networks?
Firelight encourages CBO grantee-partners to join other local, national, or international learning and funding networks who can also support their work. We celebrate when our grantee-partners become sought after leaders and partners or are cited for their expertise by the local and international community.
The story of Tanzanian Firelight CBO grantee-partner Amani Girls Home (AGH) illustrates the power of helping our partners contribute to CBO-to-policymaker networks:
Amani Girls Home was founded in 2004 in Mwanza, Tanzania, out of a desire to work with the young girls – often those who were homeless – left behind by organizations who focused primarily on boy children and women. In working with these girls to meet their basic needs, the organization quickly realized that, in fact, these girls’ vulnerability, difficulties at school, and poverty were determined far earlier in life – and that intervening earlier would stem the tide of these challenges. Out of this realization was born Amani’s focus on early childhood development (ECD). In 2006, working with community members to pool together a small amount of resources, the organization began an ECD center in Mwanza that enrolled young girls from the poorest families.
In 2014, Firelight began funding Amani as part of our early childhood development initiative cohort in Tanzania. Through this funding, the organization has been able to deepen its work on early childhood development – establishing and improving more community-owned ECD centers, working with international experts to train ECD teachers, mobilizing parents to send their children to ECD centers, and educating community members and local authorities on the importance of early childhood development. Today, parents actively contribute to nutrition programs and provide teaching and learning materials – games, desks, chairs – to these ECD centers.
While Firelight provides intensive organizational and programmatic capacity building, an essential part of our support has also been in creating and deepening Amani’s connections to local, national, and international networks. On the local level, Firelight enables Amani’s participation in the peer network coordinated by Firelight Lead Partner Tanzania Home Economics Association (TAHEA). This network of Firelight CBO grantee-partners in the Tanzania ECD cohort comes together to share experiences and to discuss challenges that arise at the community level. Recently, Firelight has also funded Amani Girls Home to be part of the Tanzanian “All In All Learning Network” established by Comic Relief. This network brings together Tanzanian civil society organizations – both within and beyond the Firelight cohort – to develop their skills around program development and to exchange learnings.
At the same time, as longtime members, Amani currently serves as the chair of the Mwanza regional branch of the Tanzania ECD Network (TECDEN) and sits on the network’s National Steering Committee. As part of this national network, Amani creates linkages both with national partners and with internationally-renowned bodies such as the World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Fund, and Children in Crossfire. Amani is currently working with this network to develop Tanzania’s National Plan of Action for ECD. As part of these national networks, Amani is able to play a dual role: listening and learning in order to consolidate information to bring back to local peer network meetings while also amplifying the voice of community in these national-level conversations.
“Networking enables us to create strategic partnerships that help us expand our reach, collaborate with and learn from other civil society partners, strengthen our knowledge and experience, and tangibly improve our programming for young children at the community level to maximize impact.” - Revocatus Sono, Program Manager at Amani Girls Home
Firelight understands that community-based organizations deserve a seat at the table in national conversations about their communities, and we prioritize funding our CBO grantee-partners to join these national networks and have their perspectives heard.