Today, 20th November, marks the adoption of two groundbreaking pieces of legislation that have attempted to help governments, institutions and individuals around the world understand the importance of children, and the rights that they have.
In 1954, the UN General Assembly established the UN Declaration for the Rights of the Child, designed to protect children working long hours in dangerous circumstances, and to allow all children access to education. On the same day in 1989, this was expanded through the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), detailing the rights that every child has, including the right to life, the right to education, the right to protection, the right to nationality, the right to, where possible, to know and be cared for by his or her parents, and the right to identity.
At AfCiC, we have come to understand that just because these rights exist, it doesn’t mean that children are able to claim these rights as their own. Through a combination of being denied these rights by their elders or bigger institutions, or through purely not knowing what their own rights are, children are still subjected to physical, mental and sexual abuse, and are often neglected to the extent that they have no food to eat, no roof over their heads at night, no access to healthcare, and no means to receive an education. We work with some amazing children, some of whom have experienced life situations that are sometimes beyond comprehension for most of us.
However, tragically, the experiences of these children are replicated throughout the world; from Bangladesh to Brazil and from Romania to Rwanda. In 2005, the UN adopted 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s), which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, and this builds on the UNCRC in bringing together in agreement all the world’s governments, bar two, as well as the world’s leading development institutions, in a drive to meet the needs of the world’s poorest people, and the vulnerable children who often suffer to the greatest extent. The goals each have their own matrices to help analysts work to evaluate success against these goals, and it is clear that incredible progress is being made in achieving these targets, in some form, by 2015.
At AfCiC specifically, there are signs of hope showing that the work that we do is giving each child we work with a change to succeed. For example, we have recently had 3 children accepted into Kenyan universities who we have been working with for many years, and who have been helped through our Child Sponsorship scheme, and we work with a huge variety of children and youth who are now in sustainable employment through our Into Work scheme. We also work with families, helping them to find Income Generating Activities (IGA’s) which can sometimes provide them with enough money to buy a school uniform for their child, or to pay for a bag of maize that they otherwise may not have had. To continue doing the work we do, and to do it better, we need your help. This doesn’t necessarily mean giving money – it can be as simple as ‘liking’ us on facebook, and asking just two of your friends to do the same, or it could mean asking your local church or primary school to use AfCiC as their Christmas charity.
On Universal Children’s Day 2012, we would ask you to take the small step of making the rest of your family aware of what we do, or asking 5 friends to come to our website or facebook page or twitter page. Sharing in this way is free and of minimal effort, and is something we can all do in 5 minutes. We would love you to be involved in some way with what we do so please, if you would like further information about what we do, please do not hesitate to get in contact with us.