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In Dominica, a young ‘Roving Caregiver’ helps give children a strong start in life

© UNICEF Barbados/2006/McClean-Trotman
Christian Darroux, 19, uses sport to help children’s development in the Roving Caregivers Programme in Dominica.

By Lisa McClean-Trotman

ST. DAVID, Dominica, 24 May 2006 – Christian Darroux, 19, has chosen a profession unusual among men in Dominica and most other countries: He works with young children and their families as a caregiver.

“I love children,” says Christian, who is a descendant of the Caribbean indigenous group known as the Caribs. He works with 14 children from different families in the Carib Territory in the parish of St. David, which has no day-care centres and is one of the poorest in Dominica.

Christian has been involved with the UNICEF-supported Roving Caregivers Programme for six months. “What is most rewarding is when I see parents putting the stimulation activities that we teach into practice with their children,” he said.

His work with the Roving Caregivers is made possible by the Dominican branch of the Christian Children’s Fund, with support from the Caribbean Support Initiative of the Bernard Van Leer Foundation and UNICEF.

© UNICEF Barbados/2006/McClean-Trotman
UNICEF Special Envoy to the Caribbean Karin Sham Poo (left) plays with children at the Roving Caregivers Programme.

Supporting parents 

The programme is being piloted in the six communities in St. David’s parish. It works with 206 children, including 117 from the Carib Territory. 

The Roving Caregivers support and train parents to provide a better life for their children, especially those who don’t have access to day care or pre-school.

“The boys especially like the sporting activities I do with them, and I would like to see more males from the Carib Territory involved in the programme,” notes Christian, who is currently the only male Roving Caregiver in his territory.

This view is shared by the Senior Programme Officer for UNICEF in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Niloufar Pourzand, who recently visited the Carib Territory with UNICEF Special Envoy to the Caribbean Karin Sham Poo.

Male role model

“The programme has both boys and girls and seeks to involve both fathers and mothers in the early stimulation of their children,” says Ms. Pourzand. “The presence of someone like Christian is important because it is necessary for boys to have a male role model. It is also important for fathers to see that males, too, can play a role in their children’s development.”

Christian Children’s Fund Coordinator Nisbertha Buffong adds that caregivers like Christian counter the traditional view that dealing with young children is ‘women’s work’.

“The presence of young males in the programme sends a strong message that caring for, and being involved with, our children from birth can be very noble,” she says.



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