Sahil lives in a persecuted Dalit community in Bihar State, India. Through the education and encouragement of his teacher at one of the Learning Centres we support here, he has not only realised his rights, but those of his wider community. Now he has become a teacher himself and is ‘paying it forward’ helping younger children to know their self worth and access vital services.
Through ten Children’s Parliaments, children are learning about their rights and responsibilities, developing leadership skills, learning about the political system and election process of their country and how to campaign about the issues that matter to them. Here are some of the highlights, from the Children's Parliaments over the past few months.
Not only this, but the children here have been leading transformation since 2017. When we first started working here, we asked the children what needed to change. They took us on a tour of the area and told us about some of the problems they faced. We interviewed many of them, and they created a map of Wandago with sticks, leaves and stones to show us the places that were safe and the places where they felt afraid.
They told us about high levels of child exploitation, that there was little access to education and a lack of healthy jobs due to all the dangerous breweries that dominate the area. One of the main problems they described was how when they went to the well for water alone, many girls had been victims of rape and sexual assault.
In the last few years, the Child Protection Team in Wandago have been working to stop this. They have done regular spot checks at the well, many workshops on child protection and ensured that no-one walks there by themselves. Since this point there have been no attacks.
They have been working on wider issues too, supporting the opening of a new Early Childhood Development Centre, and starting a small loan scheme to create healthy livelihoods and make it possible for parents to send children to school.
The same children who raised their voices about these needs in Wandago are now part of the Child Rights Club, piloted in Loco, but now also active in Masese I and Wandago. They are trained about their rights and work hand in hand with the Child Protection Team.
Babra is the social worker for Children on the Edge Africa. She says,
Children in Wandago are now not only safer, but teaching other children about being safer, delivering regular workshops to hundreds of younger children, and talking to parents about how to clean up the area and make sure children can go to school.
They started the change, and they continue to lead, watch the video above and share the great news about the impact these children are having.
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.
Through both printed and digital child- led publications, Children on the Edge are working to ensure Rohingya refugee children have a voice.
“Nobody knows about us” has been a frequent remark coming from discussions with many of the 7,500 children we support in the Kutupalong camp, Bangladesh.
On the 20th June each year, the world commemorates the strength, courage, and resilience of millions of refugees. Around the world more than 50 million people have fled their homes, and over half of these are children.
The refugee children we work with in Lebanon, Bangladesh and Myanmar all show great strength, courage and resilience every day, surviving in some of the toughest places around the world. On World Refugee Day 2019, we wanted to take the time to share some of their thoughts and experiences.
Despite the caste system being outlawed, Dalit children in India are shunned by society and suffer from exclusion, discrimination and exploitation. Through 30 Learning Centres, Children on the Edge are supporting these children to break the cycle of caste discrimination.
An important part of this education is helping children understand their rights. This is not only reflected in the curriculum, but recently through the establishment of ten ‘Children’s Parliaments’, where children learn about their rights and responsibilities, develop leadership, and learn the political system and election process of their country.
Children from the Learning Centres we support in Bihar State, India joined with hundreds of their local friends this week, to demonstrate in Patna about the need for greater protection.
Recent cases in the media, highlighting incidents of child rape and murder, prompted the children to come out in force and call for a safer environment. They also chose to highlight issues like dowry, the halting of higher education for girls and the need for greater gender equality.
The children lined the roadsides, carrying placards and singing motivational songs. In a striking expression of their solidarity, 500 children from eight different schools, held hands in a kilometre long human chain, appealing to adults to pay more attention to safeguarding children and their rights.
Sr Veena who leads the work in the urban slums of Patna said, “We need to sensitise and educate adults to create a child-safe environment. The purpose of the human chain was to call upon all our neighbours in the wider community to be alert to issues of child protection and children’s rights”.
Veena and her team have ongoing gender equality programmes as part of their work with Dalit children in the slums of Patna. They have seen significant change in the attitudes towards girls, and made many steps towards their protection and encouragement.
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Children from the Child Rights Club we support in Loco slum, Uganda have recently organised a clean up day in their area, inspiring the adults to join in and attracting other children to the club.
30 children from the Club, based in the Ugandan Railways Primary School and supported by Children on the Edge Africa, came up with the idea when they created their Club’s work plan at the start of the year.
After they decided they wanted to have a day to spruce the area, Children on the Edge provided some equipment, and the Loco Child Protection Team also bought shovels along, with a few of the team members helping out on the day. The area was swept and tidied, with rubbish being gathered and burnt.
Ashwin Ndlovu, who is currently out in Uganda supporting the development of the team’s Monitoring and Evaluation said ‘They were so organised and enthusiastic. They all put on their child rights T-shirts, and the girl that was leading it was brilliant. She was very confident, and went around to people’s houses, talking to adults about children’s rights and what the Child Rights Club does”.
One member of the Child Rights Club lives in a neighbouring community, but he came to Loco to help his team members clean their community and share information with parents about child rights. He said “I don’t live here, but I came to help as children have the right to live in a clean environment”. A few more children followed along, asking how they could join as they were inspired by what the other children were sharing.
After the cleaning was done, they went back to the Primary School for some porridge and a workshop led by the children themselves. They sat outside and talked about how to stay safe from abuse, chatting about situations they have been through and what they find difficult.
They talked freely with our social worker Babra, and the patron of the Child Rights Club, saying that they find it harder to talk to their teachers. One girl said ‘My Stepmother gives me all the clothes and I do the laundry by myself. She doesn’t ask her own children to do this, and I have to wait until the other children finish their meal each day and eat the leftovers”.
The children were glad to be able to talk, and also shared some positive comments about the project. They talked about how much they like to play in the new Loco playground outside the Early Childhood Development Centre, when all they used to do was go to Jinja town to pick up scrap.
Watch this space to see what new ideas the Child Rights Club comes up with this year, and find out more about the wider project here.