Sep 21

Children’s Rights

Well, I have had some interesting responses to last week’s post about Children’s Rights. Let me just clarify a point or three.

Firstly, we will continue with the Children’s Program as is, we will just be adding new components regarding participation to the program, not replacing the program.

Secondly, Rights are a difficult issue regarding children, at KTD196 we teach rights and responsibilities so that children understand they have rights but they also have responsibilities regarding how they treat their rights, for example, one right is the right to Education however the children have a responsibility to:

1. Go to school

2. Create a positive learning environment

3. Be respectful to the teacher and classmates

4. Participate in classwork

5. Do their homework

Sadly some children have been taught their rights which are devoid of their responsibilities which sets up tension between parents and children, and teachers and children.

Finally, the children in their villages, school, and families face a myriad of overwhelming issues which is why I think KTD196 fulfils such an important need. Through the CRSA we found out that children are not receiving what they need to grow and develop holistically, now I know I am generalizing however, a majority of the children interviewed were desperate to be able to share their feelings, and fears, and the situation with supportive adults, but sadly most felt alienated, isolated and alone. KTD196 has adults that listen, encourage, advise, support and love.

Apartheid has done a lot of damage over the decades, yes I know Apartheid has been dead officially since 1994 but the parents of the children we work with all grew up under Apartheid and often their parents were not around and did not provide them with the nurturing care, love and support we take for granted. The parents of today were brought up without their parents, who usually had to work away from home and come back once or twice a year. The rest of the time they were raised by elderly grandparents often too tired themselves to meet their grandchild’s needs. Parents don’t know what they are supposed to provide, oh they know about providing food, shelter, and school uniforms but anything more than that, they didn’t experience and so don’t know how to give.

We have a training that we have called Journey of Life which sensitizes parents to the needs of children, this training transforms parent and child relationships, but it is not enough. We need to encourage parents to be their children’s champions, to be duty bearers who will demand their children’s rights in school and in their community, particularly around participation.

Don’t get me wrong I said I am generalizing but it is still a huge issue for children that they don’t have a voice and feel rejected, under-valued and irrelevant. Imagine you were a child and you had a problem i.e. someone was touching you inappropriately or you were being bullied at school, and the bully was demeaning you, stealing your lunch, making fun of you. You can’t tell your parents, they are not interested, you can’t tell your teacher because, well they just don’t care, you can’t tell any adult what is happening because, well quite frankly your issues are of no concern to any adult. What do you do?

You live with the situation! You might start fighting back and become a bully as well. You may become so depressed you are suicidal, you may start skipping school and eventually drop out. You might start looking for support/love in the wrong places, you might start drinking or taking drugs to cope with the abuse. So often this is what happens to the kids. That is why KTD196 is so essential in their lives. That is what your support provides.

The Right to Participate is such an important right, to be heard, to have your concerns voiced and acted upon but it requires champions to help facilitate the way. We will be creating a far more structured program regarding helping children to realize this right within the home, school, and community in a respectful and comprehensive way.

I hope that helps to explain the new season we are entering. It will also coincide with the progression of the Self Help Groups as they start working together to also help realize their rights as women and the right to participate in predominantly male-dominated structures within the communities they reside.

Thank you for your questions, I hope I have covered everybody. If not just shoot me another email or message and I will respond.

Thank you for being a part of something significant.

God Bless you