Operation a Day’s Work Finland is
• Development cooperation
• Information campaigns
• Development education in Finnish schools
About ODW Finland
Operation a Day’s Work (ODW) Finland is a non-governmental organization (NGO) whose objective is to improve the living conditions and promote the human rights of children and young people in developing countries and to encourage Finnish young people towards global solidarity. We work towards a world where children and young people have an active role.
ODW Finland is one of the first Finnish young people’s own development NGOs. We have implemented development cooperation projects since 1967 with funds raised by Finnish schoolchildren and students. We also organize the ODW fundraising events that have become an institution in Finland and provide high-quality development education.
The annual ODW Workday is one of the highlights of the Finnish school year. It is when pupils and students spend a day working and donate their pay to ODW Finland for projects that improve the conditions of children and young people in developing countries. This allows Finnish youth to help their peers in some of the poorest countries in the world while also catching a glimpse of what working life is like.
We are an ideologically, politically and religiously non-aligned organization with 11 member organizations: student and trade unions, peace organizations and the Evangelical Lutheran Association for Youth in Finland. Our operations are governed by our Board consisting of the elected representatives of our member organizations. Click here for a list of our member organizations.
History – Direct Action since 1967
The Operation a Day’s Work movement originated in Sweden in 1961, as students wished to honor the memory of the late Dag Hammarskjöld, Secretary General of the UN who got killed in an air crash, by organizing a fundraising event. Known as a peacemaker and advocate for global solidarity, Hammarskjöld inspired students to start a collection entitled “En dag för Dag” (A Day for Dag). Later, the name evolved into Dagsverke. Soon Dagsverke – or Operation a Day’s Work – spread to other Nordic countries, as well.
The collection was first organized in Finland in 1967 when student organizations raised money for a project in Peru. During the first three years, students took care of the collection themselves, but soon ODW Finland’s other member organizations joined in, the Lutheran Church and different organizations of wage earners among others. Nowadays, a large part of Finnish schoolchildren, students and wage earners are directly or indirectly involved in ODW Finland’s work.
In the 1970s and 1980s, ODW campaigns were organized every two or three years, but since the mid-1990s, they have been arranged annually, and the collection has become a yearly tradition in many Finnish schools.
The non-governmental organization ODW Finland was founded in 1989 in order to continue the work of the ODW committees. To guarantee the sustainability of development cooperation efforts, an office with permanent staff was set up. At the moment, ODW Finland has six paid employees.
ODW Finland produces high-quality learning materials and study packages for teachers and other educators. We also organize lectures, seminars and workshops on various topics related to global education. Our global education efforts aim at promoting tolerance and respect for human rights.
In the field of global education, our focus is on development education. We inform about the life of children and young people in developing countries while seeking to dismantle stereotypes of life in the global South. Our goal is to raise a sense of global responsibility in Finnish young people and to build links between children and youth in Finland and in developing countries.
In accordance with the Finnish national curriculum, our global education aims at
– enhancing intercultural competence and international cooperation,
– guaranteeing human dignity and universal human rights,
– securing peace, and
– promoting sustainable development and equal distribution of the world’s resources.
Our global education efforts are supported by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and the Ministry of Education.
ODW Finland has implemented development cooperation projects since 1967. The funds required have come from our own fundraising efforts and from project support granted by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
Our earlier projects have included e. g. supporting street children in Kenya, improving the status of young indigenous people in Bolivia, teaching young people to read and write in Madagascar, preventing child sexual abuse in Guatemala, and supporting the victims of trafficking in children in Cambodia.
We currently have six projects underway:
– Zambia 2015–2017
– Kenya 2015–2017
– Sierra Leone 2014–2016
– Guatemala 2013–2015
– Mozambique 2012–2016
– Cambodia 2011–2015
Our aim is to give youth in Zambia a stronger voice in developing their communities and society in general. 52 % of the population in Zambia is underage. Hence why the youth in plays a key role in developing the Zambian society and the economy. However, many young people and children live and work at the streets. Main reasons are poverty and orphanhood which is often caused by AIDS.
In the ODW project street children and youth will gain more self-confidence, get off the streets and get a chance for a better future. ODW’s local partner organization Barefeet Theatre in is in charge of the practical implementation of the project.
In Kenya, the ODW project is being implemented by Undugu Society of Kenya. The project started in early 2015 and will be realized in the cities of Nairobi and Kisumu. The aim is to promote socio-economic empowerment of vulnerable children and youth living at the streets. Undugu Society of Kenya has created a method that aims at transforming the existing groupings (gangs) of street children and youth into responsible individuals and organize their groups into formal structures. The project also provides children and youth with basic and vocational education.
Our project in Sierra Leone aims to give youth a stronger voice by developing their communities and society in general. This is done in four districts around the country by facilitating the improvement of life skills and education and by reducing the barriers the youth face in accessing education. The project will involve supporting the basic education and vocational schooling of young people, particularly girls, living in small towns and villages.
Youth will be informed about life skills such as reproductive health. They will also learn about human rights and ways to get their voice heard in society. By organizing events and making radio programs they spread information and encourage others to join in. The project also aims to influence decision-making at a national level on youth, education, gender and disability issues.
In Guatemala, social problems are many and serious: Insecurity, poverty and corruption overshadow everyday life. Although over half of the population is aged less than 20 years, political decision-makers are uninterested in issues that concern children and youth.
Launched in early 2013, our project in Guatemala aims to give young people a voice and empower them so they can actively promote their own rights. ODW Finland’s partner organization PAMI Guatemala implements the project in six municipalities around Guatemala. Young people receive extensive training on diverse topics such as society, politics and human rights. They also learn how to search information and tackle social evils. By organizing events, discussions, parades and campaigns, these youth encourage their peers to join in.
The township of Chamanculo is severely over-populated and one of the poorest peripheral townships of Maputo City, the capital of Mozambique. It faces challenges especially in terms of sanitation, education, youth employment and HIV/AIDS. Youth unemployment is also a challenge for the community as a whole since youth without meaningful engagement more easily turn to drug and alcohol abuse, as well as petty crime, even prostitution.
Our work in Chamanculo aims to
• reduce urban poverty of vulnerable youth through access to training and employment,
• improve equal opportunities to primary education through pedagogical and material support for vulnerable children,
• promote youth participation in civil society and democratic processes through providing knowledge and experience, and
• contribute to reduction of youth delinquency and number of new HIV infections through activities and information provided for youth.
Our project in Cambodia contributes to the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and aims at preventing the worst forms of child labour as well as protecting children involved in them. The project aims at mobilising local communities and encourages particularly the youth to act against the worst forms of child labour. In particular, this includes children engaged in domestic work, brick factories and the entertainment industry. Furthermore, it aims at increasing knowledge, understanding and action among national and local decision-makers, employers and the general public on child labour and other child rights violations.