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Advancing child well-being

POSTED February 13, 2019

Advancing child well-being

We celebrate a partnership with the African Child Policy Forum, which will give us unique access to make greater impact

By Patrick Canagasingham, CEO

Patrick and Assefa

I hear about violations against children’s rights in Africa too often — whether it’s news of a child marriage, child labour, a mutilation or too many more atrocities to name. It hurts, but it’s my job to join with the global community to help make it possible for children’s rights to be realized.

At Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC), it’s our mission to “overcome poverty and pursue justice,” so I’m hopeful about the opportunity to address these issues in Africa with a new partner — the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF).

This Pan-African organization is standing up for children’s rights and well-being through knowledge building, dialogue and advocacy. Together, we can make more noise.

We need that. Although, we work in five African countries at CCFC, we see how much more we all need to do to advance child well-being; so many are deprived, and so few organizations become a moral voice for them.

The goal is to change that by pooling our resources with ACPF on four key issues:

  • Preventing extreme forms of violence against children through initiatives such as promoting national and regional dialogues and campaigns.
  • Enhancing the voices of children and youth through projects such as children and youth polls.
  • Delivering legal protection to orphaned and vulnerable children through initiatives such as developing and strengthening Children’s Legal Protection Centres in CCFC countries of operations.
  • Advancing child rights and accountability in Africa by influencing the child-friendliness at all levels of government and helping countries develop and implement national policies and action plans.

We’ve signed a partnership agreement to work towards these goals together, and we celebrated that at a recent event at our Canadian office. We welcomed Dr. Assefa Bequele, founder of ACPF, to sign the agreement and share his learnings with academics, industry experts and more.

As an Ethiopian who’s lived around the world, Assefa has a unique perspective about cultural practices harming children in Africa. It’s clearly a passionate pursuit, but that doesn’t change the topic. “I find [these conversations] quite painful,” he told the crowd, referencing child labour, honour killings, infanticide, exorcisms and more while adding that two-thirds of children in Africa experience physical violence.

Assefa made a point to note he has seen positive change, noting that countries have become more child-friendly, following external pressure. He added, what’s most effective is when Africans take ownership of issues impacting African children. It’s why, CCFC’s interventions in Africa can be improved through our partnership with ACPF.

We’ll work through this organization, which has influence in African countries, to make a greater impact than we could make on own. We’ll also be better positioned to engage Canadians in Africa to spur change, too.

Indeed, we must work together. “If I’m so conflicted about talking about these things, imagine how much more difficult it will be for a Westerner,” Assefa added at the event. “Certain things are better handled by local organizations because of the sensitivity of the issues.”

His words were affirmed with nods of agreement and comments about the complexity of the situation from the audience gathered for the event.

So, we were encouraged when we visited media, parliamentarians and government officials in Ottawa later in the week. We shared the need to empower children to understand their rights, so they know how to make change for themselves and their peers.

It’s not an easy mission, but it’s one we care about deeply.

Assefa says it best: “This is about solidarity, humanity, intellectual horizons. You can’t be indifferent about what happens [around the world], because tomorrow it could come to you.”

Join us as we continue to pursue justice and encourage others to do the same.

You can help, too. Support children’s rights today.

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Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60+ years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.

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