Child Fund International exists to help deprived, excluded and vulnerable children have the capacity to improve their lives and the opportunity to become young adults, parents and leaders who bring lasting and positive change in their communities. The organization, originally founded in 1938 to support orphaned children in China, promotes societies around the world whose individuals and institutions participate in valuing, protecting and advancing the worth and rights of children.
Over its 75-year history, CFI’s approach has evolved into one of community development — the idea that you can best help children by strengthening their families and community structures. That makes the international not-for-profit organization the perfect partner for the Cheyenne River Youth Project, according to Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director.
“We share a similar mission,” Garreau explained. “We, too, are dedicated to providing youth with access to a vibrant and secure future. Here on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, that means ensuring that we can give our children from age 4 to age 18 a wide variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs, projects and facilities right here in Eagle Butte.”
CFI has been a CRYP partner for several years, and its support has allowed the 26-year-old, not-for-profit, grassroots youth project pursue some of its most important, and creative, youth programming. CFI funding has supported initiatives such as teen leadership, junior volunteer and community service programs; Book Club (see photo above); book distributions; summer and after-school literacy programs; and a variety of cultural activities that celebrate Lakota tradition and heritage.
“Like CFI, we work closely with children and families to ensure that we can continue to meet their evolving needs,” Garreau noted. “We work hard to meet the needs of the whole child — physically, emotionally, mentally, socially and spiritually — so he or she can become a strong, well-rounded, healthy individual. That’s at the heart of what we do here, because these young people are the future of the Lakota Nation.”
Most recently, CFI funding supported CRYP’s 2015 Winter Book Club, which featured “Education & Culture” and “Native American Literature” tracks; three milestone parties that involved cooking classes and nutritious, organically grown vegetables from CRYP’s 2-acre Winyan Toka Win (“Leading Lady”) garden; and a special incentive trip to Harney Peak in the Black Hills, where teens participated in the “Welcome Home Wakinyan Oyate” ceremony. The March ceremony welcomes back the Wakinyan, or Thunder Beings, as winter draws to a close. In Lakota tradition, Harney Peak is the home of the Wakinyan.
“We are now serving our second generation of children here at CRYP, which is quite a success story for a grassroots organization in Indian country,” Garreau said. “And that is thanks to the critical network of partners and friends we have built over the years. We call ourselves ‘the little not-for-profit that did, and we know we simply wouldn’t be here without partners like CFI. Their support allows us to keep pursuing our missing in our community and to continue to strengthen our organization so Cheyenne River kids can rely on us for another quarter century… and beyond.”
To learn more about CFI, visit www.childfund.org.