The main element of the work we support in Uganda is through the establishment and development of Child Protection Teams (CPT). These groups of 10 trained volunteers from five different slum communities surrounding Jinja, work to mobilise local people to care for their children more effectively and receive support and advice on parenting, health, nutrition and preventing abuse.
One of the functions of the teams is to connect the community with the services that can help them. Having a strong connection with the police and training from them about the law gives weight to the advice and guidance provided by team members.
Babra from Children on the Edge Africa explains “We had a case of a man who beat his wife every day, the children would be hurt too. Two of our team members visited him, he was very hostile. After having some discussion with him he changed. We were not going to arrest or quarrel or make orders, but talk in peace until he understood why we were there. We then told him the laws. He didn’t know it was crime. We told him he would be arrested and he stopped.”
The teams work closely with police officers and local government to make sure issues are addressed and cases handled quickly and fairly.
Salaad from Loco CPT says “If people had problems they used to go to the local councillor and nothing would happen, or he might try and bribe them. Now they come to us, we speak on their behalf and their issues are dealt with straight away. Any violation of children’s rights and they know they can get action to challenge it”.
This diplomacy and advocacy works both ways. Teams advocate on behalf of the communities they work with, not only with regard to individual cases, but to build trust and understanding between local people and authorities.
Babra describes how perspectives have changed; “The police in Masese II used to be dismissive if people reported cases. They didn’t feel it was their concern, they just thought they were a bunch of drunks and not worth the trouble. Now they take the community seriously”.
The police have tried to engage Loco community many times before with no success. This is mainly due to the fact that people have been disillusioned through their experience of bribery, corruption and a perception that the police are against them.
The CPT set up a meeting with the community and the police and, because they are well trusted, many people from the local area came along. Seven police officers were there and the questions went on until after dark. There were so many questions that they set up a second gathering, attended by over 130 people.
They discussed how bribery is not allowed, and should be reported. They were encouraged not to run away from a police patrol and reassured they are there to keep safety and order, not to beat people. It was made clear that any officer who does this should be reported and action will be taken.
Through their ongoing and visible partnership with the police, as well as the facilitation of these meetings, the Loco CPT are building more effective services and a renewed trust between the community and the police. This is all contributing to the development of a safer environment for local children.
Read about the work we do in Uganda building a protective environment for children.
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