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  • Jan5Thu

    Plan to Protect® Around the World

    Victoria shares her experience in Bolivia January 5, 2017 Victoria Bissell
    Filed Under:
    Abuse Awareness

    Twenty years ago when Plan to Protect® the manual was written, it was written for a small denomination of churches in Canada. The original writers had no idea how big and how far Plan to Protect® would become. Here we are 20 years later, Plan to Protect® is being used by over 1500 organizations in Canada and the United States. But, did you know that Plan to Protect® has also traveled to other countries around the world? We have national trainers, organizations and charities using Plan to Protect® in the UK, Ghana, Cambodia and most recently Bolivia.

    Victoria, our Director or Training, recently visited Bolivia to help a missions organization called El Jordan, write policies and do training for their volunteers and staff.  Here’s her story:

    I had an incredible time in Bolivia!  I visited a missions organization called El Jordan which works with women and children coming out of living on the streets, drugs and prostitution – definitely a vulnerable sector. The Bolivia people are beautiful, joyful, loving people with huge hearts. They are resilient and welcoming, but they are also a hurt and lost people. Many are struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, homelessness and poverty (64% of the population is below the poverty line). 20% of children die before the age of 3 and 90% of children living on the streets abuse drugs regularly. I could definitely see a need and I’m so glad I could help fulfill it.

    One of the highlights of my trip, was sharing Plan to Protect® in a third world setting. I’m a big believer that Plan to Protect® can be customized for any organization, in any community, and even any country – now I had the opportunity to really see that in practice.

    This is my 4th year visiting Bolivia and I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to share the heart, passion, and dedication behind Plan to Protect®. I shared best practices for protecting the vulnerable sector and practical things the volunteers at El Jordan could do to keep the people they work with safer.  The truth is, it doesn’t matter what country you’re in; if you’re in a rural or urban setting; if you’re a business, charity, school or church; or if you have hundreds of volunteers/staff or just a handful – there are best practices you can implement which will create a safer environment for everyone involved.  Here are some of those best practices. 

    Best Practices:

    • Have a plan
      • It’s always better to have a plan to prevent abuse and how to protect the vulnerable sector then to just react to problems when they arise.
      • A policy – even If it’s simple – is a great place to start.
      • Identify risks
        • Ask yourself: What activities/programs/events do we do that are higher risk? What age groups are higher risk? What rooms/areas/facilities do we have that are higher risk?
        • When you can identify the areas of risk within your specific organization you’ll know which areas to void risk, transfer the risk, or increase supervision and reduce the risk.
        • Remember when risk increases, supervision should also increase
    • Screening volunteers/staff
      • No matter where in the world you are, screening is one of the best practices that cannot be understated.
      • Even in Bolivia, where criminal record checks are unavailable, El Jordan is still able to do references, interviews and an application. If they can do it – so can you.
    • Training
      • Everyone who works with children, youth and vulnerable adults should be trained annually on abuse prevention and vulnerable sector protection.
    • Appropriate touch
      • While appropriate touch may vary between countries, having best practices implemented within your organization is a great way to make sure everyone is on the same page and it does prevent abuse.
    • Avoid isolation
      • This is my favorite best practice because it’s easy to understand and truly makes a difference.
      • If you can have two people that’s the best solution, but if that’s not possible (because you’re small and don’t have enough volunteer/staff) you can ALWAYS open the door, have a hall monitor and avoid being isolated – just you and a child. 

    It was so exciting to be able to help El Jordan with their policies and to do a training for them. If Plan to Protect
    ® can work in under-developed Bolivia, in a mission with few resources and fewer volunteers – it really has the potential to work everywhere… we just need to get creative and customize it for our location. I’m excited to see where else Plan to Protect® can make an impact – so we can together create a safer world for those who are vulnerable. – Victoria

    Are you wondering how to implement some of these best practices to your unique setting, or to share Plan to Protect® with your global partners – let us help!  We love finding new creative ways to make Plan to Protect® and our best practices work  in unique settings.  Our scholarship program enables us to give generously to developing world organizations and initiatives. 


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