Before your involvement with Kindermissionswerk, what was your primary focus?
Fr. Dirk Bingener: Before I became president of the organization Kindermissionswerk‚ Die Sternsinger in September 2019, I had worked for four years as President of the Federation of German Catholic Youth (BDKJ). BDKJ is the umbrella organization of 17 Catholic Youth Associations and represents the interest of over 600,000 young people in politics, the Church, and society. Together with Kindermissionswerk it is also an organizer of the Carol Singing Campaign. I already knew Kindermissionswerk from this collaboration and was a carol singer myself as a child. So, being in charge of this organization is something very special for me.
Why did you find it important to get involved with Kindermissionswerk?
Bingener: Countless children around the world suffer from physical, emotional, and sexual violence, exploitation, and neglect. In all of its projects, Kindermissionswerk is committed to ensuring that children grow up in a safe environment and that their rights are respected. Every year we can use our donations to support projects in over 100 countries, in the areas of health, education, children’s rights, child protection, etc. I am very motivated to drive forward this important work.
What sort of link do you find between the CCP’s mission and Kindermissionswerk’s mission?
Bingener: Both Kindermissionswerk and CCP have the same goal: to promote the well-being of children around the world and protect children from exploitation of all kinds. For us as a children’s aid organization, our most pressing goal is to ensure the protection of children in our projects. This includes both prevention and caring for victims. The cooperation between CCP and Kindermissionswerk strengthens both sides: children and young people all over the world benefit from the teaching, research, and public relations work of the CCP. The Centre for Child Protection in turn receives our personal and financial assistance and can rely on the partner contacts and the worldwide network of the Pontifical Mission Societies of Holy Childhood.
Why is it important to Kindermissionswerk to support the CCP’s work?
Bingener: The CCP makes an important contribution to raising awareness about child protection issues, not only in the Catholic context. In addition, the center in Rome conducts basic research in this field. The knowledge gained is used, for example, in preventative measures and increases the effectiveness in these projects. The CCP also offers a diploma course in child protection. The graduates then go on to work on-site in counselling and caring for those affected or in developing child protection policies in the dioceses. Considering all of this, the CCP also supports Kindermissionswerk’s mission.
What does Kindermissionswerk do worldwide to bring their partners to do child protection and safeguarding?
Bingener: Our project partners must develop and implement child protection policies. This includes a reporting system and case management. It is important that these policies do not only exist on paper, but are implemented in everyday life. We, therefore, promote appropriate training for those responsible. To advance in child protection issues networks and strategies, national and international cooperation are required.
How are funds raised?
Bingener: Most of our donations are collected during the Carol Singing Campaign, when Carol Singers go from house to house across Germany and collect money for disadvantaged children all over the world. Thanks to this commitment of 300,000 children and young people, it is possible to support a large number of projects worldwide. In addition, we also have many private and institutional donors.
How effective do find this sort of fundraising to be?
Bingener: The Carol Singers alone raised more than 50 million euro in donations during the 2019 Carol Singing Campaign. This is a record result. However, money is not everything; but, the greater the donations, the more money can flow into the projects. Each year I am amazed at how many young people participate in the campaign and support their peers in all parts of the world in line with our motto “children helping children.”
Does the organization operate on a large scale or rather get involved with specific local charities, parishes, smaller organizations, etc?
Bingener: We financially assist more than 1,800 projects in over 100 countries worldwide. We work very closely with local partners who know the local situation best. Our partners are mainly the local churches in Africa, Asia, Oceania, Latin America, and the Middle East. We also cooperate with other aid organizations, such as Caritas.
How does the organization offer support where needed in a sustainable way, keeping those it helps from becoming dependent on its funding?
Bingener: In order to improve the living conditions of children, we work with our local partners mainly on a long-term basis. Thus, it is possible to see the impact of the projects, to develop programs further, and to ensure sustainability. In general, our projects are designed to strengthen local initiatives.
What are some of your goals for Kindermissionswerk as its President?
Bingener: In principle, we want to alleviate the plight of children worldwide, protect them from oppression and exploitation, and strengthen them in developing their skills and talents as well as their potential. That is the most important goal of Kindermissionswerk and myself, personally.
Do you have anything else you’d like to share with our readership?
Bingener: For me, one thing is very important when it comes to child protection issues: it is a challenge that concerns us all and will rightly continue to be this way.