POSTED June 11, 2018
Pursuing a global vision to end violence against children
Our progress for positive change in Paraguay is setting the stage for collaboration with governments and civil-society organizations around the world
By Patrick Canagasingham, CEO
If you’ve ever been to Paraguay, you might understand the feeling of community you experience from people in all corners of the country. I experienced this genuine welcome on my recent trip there a few days ago, but my eyes were also opened to one side of the country I couldn’t see.
I couldn’t see what happens behind closed doors. Jorge Méndez Rheineck, our country director in Paraguay, spoke frankly about the situation: “Violence against children in the home is a problem for too many. Worse, children suffer sexual abuse from adults they trust — relatives, family, friends and neighbours,” he said.
I’ve also heard from Paraguayan teens who attended global summits where too many of them considered violent behaviour “normal” in their world. We can’t accept that anymore; we must work together to create a new normal.
The global community has joined to put an end to this and to keep all children safe from violence by 2030. The United Nations is leading the charge, but a number of countries have been selected to jumpstart positive change. One of those is Paraguay, and Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) has been part of that mission.
The work involves collaborating with regional and international bodies, including the Inter-American Children’s Institute, the Global Movement for Childhood of Latin American and Caribbean, the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children as well as international and national civil-society organizations such as ChildFund Alliance. But, the Government of Paraguay is key to making change on this issue. And, they’re actively committed.
I saw a good example of that at an international seminar I attended on my trip. The Paraguay-office teams from CCFC, SOS Children’s Villages and Plan International hosted the event. And, there was truly valuable support from Ricardo González Borgne (above, right), Paraguay’s Minister of Childhood and Adolescence as well as youth delegates speaking on behalf of the National Network of Childhood and Adolescence.
The conference highlighted what everyone’s combined efforts have accomplished to protect children’s rights in the country. An exemplary achievement of this combined effort is the 20 commitments to improve children’s lives, signed by incoming President Mario Abdo Benitez. He promised to protect them from violence, empower young women and strengthen services for disabled children. The list of commitments goes on.
That list couldn’t be fully realized without children and youth being involved in the change process, learning their rights and advocating for their own future. (More on this in an upcoming blog from our country director). That involvement is another reason for celebration.
Following the conference, a regional meeting of the Permanent Commission of the NiñoSur Initiative convened, bringing together advocates for children and youth from the Mercosur South American trade bloc, including most of the countries from the continent.
It was an inspiring trip. I saw Paraguay — its people and its government — working toward sustainable change. We know partnering with government allows us to expand our social impact globally, and it’s a best practice we’re taking to all our countries of operation.