After their first Community clean up campaign in Loco, Uganda, the Child Rights Club here have been inspiring and training hundreds of other children around Jinja.
Two more clubs have been launched in the last year, one in Masese I and the latest in Wandago. Clubs are given regular workshops on rights, responsibilities, how to work hand-in-hand with local Child Protection Teams and how to prevent instances of child labour, exploitation and abuse. They then take their training out to a wider audience of children in their communities.
Here’s four examples of the clubs in action and the kind of difference they are starting to make.
1. Training friends on staying safe
Loco and Masese I clubs have facilitated workshops for 260 children on what their rights are as children, but also their responsibilities (like helping at home, keeping their communities clean and reporting any instances of abuse to the Child Protection Teams).
After the workshop in Masese I, the community children felt more protected, as before no adult took time to listen to their views”.
Whereas children’s rights in the UK are guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children in Uganda are under the jurisdiction of The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
Whilst most articles express the same values, there are a few nuances, one of the most significant being that in the African charter, each right has a corresponding responsibility.
Many argue this represents a valuable addition to the international human rights agenda, encouraging children at age-appropriate levels to play a role at family, community, national and continental levels, developing their confidence, responsibility and citizenship as they mature.
One representative said, “We chose to talk about the children's responsibilities because they are about to have school holidays yet some children do not want to help their parents with chores thinking it's their rights”.
Nassali is a Child Rights Club member and helped with the workshops.
3. Working with schools and helping children to access education
Loco Child Rights Club have been working with their local primary school to address instances of physical punishment, creating a healthy working relationship with their teachers and suggesting more appropriate forms of discipline.
Umuru shared a story of how he and the club worked to enable a friend who had dropped out of school to return to education. This resulted not only in her return, but passing her primary exams and receiving a bursary to start secondary school.
“Whoever knew that my friend would do all these things! I am grateful that as a Child Rights Club member I have had a positive impact in someone’s life".
4. Campaigning for children
The keynote speech was delivered by a member of Masese I Child Rights Club (see video) who said:
“As we celebrate today, many children out there are going through different forms of abuse both physical and emotional.
It is estimated that 13.5 million African children have been displaced from their homes through conflicts, climate change and poverty. This figure does not capture orphans and vulnerable children. Meaning more effort is needed to address the issues affecting children...
....I would like to call upon all of us here present at Buwere primary school to become ambassadors of child rights in our respective communities. Let us put children’s rights first in whatever we do”.
We talk to four teachers working in Kutupalong refugee camp about how they tackle three of the hardest teaching challenges. Meet Tajina, Toslina, Panua Dey and Sanjil.
Working with local organisation YIDA, we are supporting 30 communities to replicate our model of best practice, ensuring high quality, cost-effective Early Childhood Development provision for their children.
Our International Director Rachel Bentley spent some time with the team here in late June and said "It has only just started with training underway and centres that need upgrading but it shows such promise, with real community engagement and ownership already...Despite the many challenges including the potential risk of Ebola the people I met in Kyaka II still have hope for the future of their children".
In addition to the threat of Ebola, the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo is getting progressively worse with horrific reports of rape, kidnappings and violence displacing 300,000 people in a two week period. Consequently, Kyaka II (already hosting 94,000) is expecting another 30-40,000 arrivals in the next few months. There is already a shortage of funding and many organisations involved are even smaller than us.
Despite these challenges, the initial programme is running brilliantly with the impact of teacher training already making a difference and the Centre Management Committees (groups of local refugees taking ownership of the centres) almost fully trained. We will be starting community led refurbishments of the centres once the training has finished.
UNHCR and the Camp Commander (who represents the office of the Ugandan Prime Minister) are so impressed with what they have seen they have already asked us to double what we're doing. Whilst we are aiming to cover 30 communities, this is still only half of the need. At a multi agency coordination meeting our programme was held up as an example of how to engage and empower local people.
This is now a vital time for us to raise funds so we can provide quality and creative learning spaces for an estimated 4,000 young Congolese refugee children, who are lacking Early Childhood Development provision that is so crucial to any child, let alone those fleeing such violence and trauma.
We have full confidence in the programme, our partners and huge gratitude for those donors who have enabled this work to get off to a flying start. What we need now is a strong investment for the future, so we can extend our work into as many communities as possible in Kyaka II.
If you would like to donate towards our early years refugee work in Kyaka II one way to do this is through our appeal with The Big Give in December, the UK’s biggest online matched giving platform.
Every donation you make will be doubled through our Big Give appeal and we are hoping to raise £30,000.
Please get in touch with us at email@example.com and we will send you more details of when and how you can give as the appeal approaches.
Painter Alex Rennie announces his exhibition ‘Home from Home’ raising funds for Children on the Edge and the Rural Refugee Network.
Where: The Frestonian Gallery, West London, W11 4BE
For more information please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
All the Dalit groups we work with in Patna face discrimination, exclusion and violence, but Bintoli also has to cope with regular flooding. The village is situated in the middle of the river, and becomes an island for about two months a year during rainy season. Over this time the 500 people who live here are completely isolated. They were forced to move to Bintoli from another area when the government built a railway, then half the community lost their land in floods. All the people here now have to rent off the land mafia.
Seeing investment in action inspires a month of record breaking fundraising from The Body Shop at Home
Ben, our Executive Director, visited Jinja with Suzanne, Jade, Louise and Lauren - supporters from The Body Shop at Home. They visited the five communities we work with , to see the difference that The Body Shop at Home are making through their dedicated, year round generosity of their consultants and customers.
Children on the Edge Africa is at the forefront of efforts to lobby the Ugandan parliament to tackle child sacrifice through the legal system. We ask CEO Winnie Biira about progress so far...
I didn’t think this happened any more?
Child sacrifice has emerged as a horrifying form of child abuse in Uganda. In the past decade, sacrifice of children in Uganda has been cited by the media, police and Government of Uganda as a major child protection concern. Police records continue to highlight numerous cases of child sacrifice in the country. The media in Uganda is also awash with stories of gruesome murders on young, innocent children committed for various reasons.
Why does it happen?
A study carried out by Uganda Child Rights NGO Network (UCRNN) with support from Children on the Edge, showed how the practice is rooted in a number of socio-economic and cultural factors as well as traditional beliefs that the ritual murder or mutilation of children can bring health, wealth and good fortune. Children are more likely to fall victims to sacrifice compared to adults, because they are more easily lured and believed to be “pure”. Adults drawn to the practice are tricked into believing that the purity of child makes the ritual more powerful.
Why is the law not working?
Currently, human sacrifice cases in Uganda are prosecuted as murder under the Penal Code Act. These cases have a very unique nature, so the offence of murder is not sufficient to deal with the practice. For example a child could be kidnapped for sacrifice but get away, or could be mutilated but still live, and there is no law to deal with the severity of that crime. Sadly this results in perpetrators committing crimes with relative impunity. A statement from Uganda Police Force in 2015 showed how 87 cases of child sacrifice were registered over eight years nationwide, but only 23 were put before the High Court and only two people were convicted!
What needs to change?
This crime needs to be represented as an offence within its own right and sentences need to be strict, stringent and non-negotiable. Associated crimes need to be explicitly identified and processes put in place to facilitate effective investigation. This will lead to an increase in successful prosecutions and should deter those involved in the crime. Our work is consequently geared at strengthening legislation to prevent and prohibit human sacrifice and harmful practices.
What has been achieved so far?
It’s been a lot of work and a hugely complex journey, but I will describe some of the milestones…
At the start, Children on the Edge Africa worked with a group of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to engage the ‘Uganda Parliamentary Forum for Children’ to draft a Bill to end Human Sacrifice in Uganda. It’s called ‘The Prevention and Prohibition of Human Sacrifice and other Traditional Harmful Practices Bill, 2017’.
Through 2016 we worked with the police, the media and traditional healers, looking at how cases are dealt with and promoting a petition to ensure witch doctors do not advertise through the media. In 2017, through work with UCRNN, we focussed on gaining testimonies from survivors and families and Honorable Atiku Bernard introduced a private members bill for the Act.
In 2018, World Vision Uganda spearheaded community consultative meetings in the law making process in Nakasongola, Buikwe, Busia and Rakai and by September 2018 with support from Children on The Edge Africa and Save the Children, a benchmark trip was made to Tanzania to research their legal approach to tackling human sacrifice. Shortly after this further consultations were facilitated, aiding in the improvement and momentum of the bill with MPs.
What is happening with the bill now?
Further refinements have been made this year and currently the bill is being reviewed by the Director of the Legal department of Parliament to make it ready for a Judges meeting in July. It has been a busy few years but we feel now we are very close to the first reading and the Bill making its way through parliament to become law.
Running concurrently with this national work, Children on the Edge Africa is rolling out of a community based model of eradicating child sacrifice incidents. Through voluntary Child Protection Teams, a simple method of community safety and awareness is established. After a pilot scheme stopped all abductions in Masese II slum, this model has been replicated in four further communities surrounding Jinja with excellent results.
Find out more about our work in Uganda.
Chichester Half Marathon
Early Childhood Development
Kyaka II Uganda
The Body Shop At Home