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Celebrating 15 Years of Child Frontiers!

What originally inspired you to start Child Frontiers back in 2008?

Alex: While I was working at UNICEF, I saw the need to provide more consistent child protection services by assembling specialized teams, rather than relying solely on individual consultants. It was also important to me to keep challenging myself and to work where there were opportunities to innovate in this space.

Guy: For me, it was about catalyzing systemic reform within the child protection sector by leveraging knowledge from a dedicated group of professionals. Child protection consultancy seemed fragmented, so I envisioned bringing together like-minded experts focused on reform.

Can you tell us about one of your first major projects in those early days?

Alex: One key project was developing guidance on child protection coordination for UNICEF in humanitarian crises after the humanitarian reform. I led the project to assemble this handbook which trained a pioneering cohort of humanitarian coordinators.

Guy: We hit the ground running with two big projects in September 2008. One was training UNICEF country office staff in Southeast Asia on its new child protection systems toolkit for governments. The other project was our first national fieldwork mapping of the child protection system in four regions of Indonesia.

What principal lessons have you learned over the past 15 years?

Alex: Understanding cultural perspectives on child welfare has been paramount. I've learned that international organizations can unintentionally cause damage without this lens. We have to focus on asking good questions and recognizing complexity.

Guy: Child protection is dynamic and contextual. We cannot assume that prescribed solutions will automatically work everywhere. We must constantly adapt our own knowledge and explore better approaches.

What accomplishment makes you most proud as you reflect on the 15-year journey?

Alex: Without a doubt, I'm most proud of the team itself and keeping colleagues for close to 15 years now. That shows I must be doing something right as a leader!

Guy: Assembling this team - and retaining many beyond 10 years - has been a great source of satisfaction. Our talented team has been fundamental to the impact Child Frontiers has achieved globally.

Any advice to your younger selves as founders 15 years ago?

Alex: Take things a bit easier and don't be so hard on yourself! I'd advise my younger self to be kinder with myself as well as others along the way.

Guy: Try as hard as possible to keep some balance and avoid getting burnt out! This work is deeply meaningful but can also take a heavy personal and emotional toll.

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