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”.
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