How to light the spark from the very first convening

By Elena Figueroa | December 15, 2022 | The Americas | Education

Elena Rodriguez, a GFC Program Coordinator for the Americas, shares her strategies for successful meetings, drawn from organizing the first convening of new GFC partners in the Supporting Early Education and Development (SEED) initiative in Honduras.

Nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, with a warm climate like the soul of its people, Honduras was chosen to host GFC’s initial post-pandemic cohort of partners working with the youngest children, from birth to age 8. The story begins in 2021, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and hurricanes Eta and Iota, with the country struggling to recover. The SEED initiative, supported by the Bainum Family Foundation and GFC, provided an infusion of financial support to five community-based organizations focused on improving early childhood development and learning outcomes for low-income Honduran children aged 8 and under.

The partner organizations approach the needs of young children from different angles and in different ways. One works with young children and their families who are living on the streets and working in the public markets; another provides early childhood stimulation and developmental therapies for children with special needs. Others run preschool and arts education centers, and one is working with children living with their mothers in the country’s only women’s prison. These organizations have benefited more than 3,900 children, adolescents, and young people in over 40 communities. A common characteristic of their work and leadership is the passion with which they carry out every task. GFC believes that the power of these organizations to make change lies not only in their individual strengths but also in the creativity and collaboration that they can spark together.

Children at their daily classes with GFC partner Educación Diaria

Children at their daily classes with GFC partner Educación Diaria. © GFC

For this cohort of wonderful organizations, that spark was struck with just one face-to-face encounter.

In September 2022, GFC held an initial meeting of the SEED partners with the participation of 17 people from different parts of the country.

The first strategy for success was to ask one of the organizations to be our co-host. GFC partner United Way Honduras stepped in and did a magnificent job with this role.

The second strategy was to build the agenda of the meeting together with the partners, holding regular meetings to determine what they would like to do once we met in person.

Participants at the SEED convening in Honduras doing simple stretches

Kicking off the convening with some exercises. © GFC

The convening took place in the heart of Honduras at Lake Yojoa located in the department of Cortes. One of the most complex ecosystems in the world, the Lake Yojoa region is home to approximately 500 species of birds, including the emerald hummingbird, which lives only in Honduras. This environment made everyone feel a bit childlike again.

Activities at the meeting were intentionally participatory and wide-ranging. Each organization shared one of their early-childhood work methodologies, generating lots of laughter, witticism, creativity, learning, and fun. We played games with dried beans to brainstorm how we think about the impact our work has on children, and we gathered in groups to put together a puzzle of meaningful children’s participation. We drew and painted together. We dressed up in costumes, sang, and told jokes. And we even did a little meditation and stretching.

People walking into the Center for Children with Special Educational Needs in Honduras

Participants visiting the Center for Children with Special Educational Needs (CNNEE). © GFC

The third strategy was to create unforgettable experiences for participants. On the second day of the convening, we visited the facilities of the Center for Children with Special Educational Needs (CNNEE). Here, we were able to develop playful activities for the children, meet a group of mothers, and learn about the methodology that the center uses to diagnose various disabilities and learning difficulties.

The fourth strategy encompasses many things – let creativity flow, allow the partners space in which they can give fuel to their ideas, generate synergy, propose actions to develop collectively, and finally, take notes and translate them into a plan.

A group of participants at the SEED convening engaged in a drawing activity on the floor

Participants engaged in a creative activity at the convening. © GFC

Since the event, partners have donated food and supplies to each other, brought volunteers to paint and decorate, and visited each other’s sites, all on their own initiative. They put together a WhatsApp group to keep in touch, and they share photos of their activities all the time. They are already talking about creating a network to more formally support each other’s work.

Seeing the connections and collective actions sparked by the September convening, I can confidently say that the SEED initiative is off to a great start!

Header image: Elena (seated third from the left in the front row) with some of the partners at the SEED convening. © GFC

Share this story

Impact in Your Inbox

Stay in the know about what’s happening at Global Fund for Children, including news and stories, special events, and more!

Recommended Stories Read All

A new Spark Fund partner, Do It for the Kids, is helping underprivileged children in Zimbabwe access basic education.
Africa & The Middle East
A drawing of the COVID-19 pandemic
Young people share their worries, what has helped them get through this difficult year, and their hopes for a post-pandemic world.
Africa & The Middle East, Asia, Europe & Eurasia, The Americas
GFC's global team reflects on their concerns and hopes for children as the world grapples with the coronavirus.
Africa & The Middle East, Asia, Europe & Eurasia, The Americas
For Kim McClain, GFC’s Regional Program Director for the Americas, career and family life are fueled by a deep love for Honduras and its people.
The Americas

Global Fund for Children (GFC) UK Trust, created in 2006, is a UK registered charity (UK charity number 1119544). We work to generate vital income, create new fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness of the invaluable work of GFC’s grassroots grantees. Our aim is to extend the reach of GFC in the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond.

Work.Life, 4 Crown Place
London EC2A 4BT

[email protected]