Guided by the theme of the UEM General Assembly in the previous years, African Church leaders recommended to develop a child policy. A number of African children face many challenges in their growth. That is why it was decided by UEM member churches that a child protection and safeguarding policy is the first formal commitment to keeping children safe. While the policy should be a fundamental consideration, bespoke for each organization, it should be more than just a piece of paper.Once completed, the policy should clearly articulate the fact that church values the physical and emotional wellbeing of all children in its care. The policy will also explain how this will be ensured guiding African churches to implement projects promoting children’s development.
From 15th to 20th April, 2018, the Africa Region of the United Evangelical Mission conducts a workshop for the heads of Sunday school and Children departments from the UEM member churches. 20 participants from UEM member churches hosted by Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania North Western Diocese (ELCT-NWD) are reflecting on the Child Rights Protection Policy to be applied in all the UEM member churches. This workshop comes as a logic continuation of the training on Sunday school, children rights and protection of environment, held in Goma, DR Congo, in last February 24rd to 3rd March 2018.
It learned that Children who experience violence are often left with long-lasting negative social, emotional, mental, physical and spiritual consequences. Violence against girls and boys is a problem that not only harms each child but jeopardizes their future survival, health and education. It simultaneously costs the world trillions of dollars, slows economic development and erodes a country’s human and social capital.
From this reality the church cannot remain silent, but undertake constructive initiatives to prevent and to address child right violation within the church and in the society. This is also to empower the participants, especially in providing skills to tackle this issue. The main task in this workshop is to share experience from church members and eventually developing Child Protection Policy and its applicability in churches. The participants share and identify existing violence against children in the community and suggest solutions that seeking justice and restoration for those who experience it by helping church communities to build a world where children will be free from harm.
Following topics are shared and discussed:
1. Sharing and identification of child abuse in the community
2. Child Protection in Biblical perspective
3. Family and community child rights perspective
4. Child protection system
5. Plan of action ending violence against Children
6. Policy formulation process: Main focus to children
7. Awareness creation strategies to community members on Child protection
Through sharing, discussions and presentation sessions, participants were able identify various form of violence, neglecting and exploitation against children in the community. The opinions provided by participants mainly focused to intervene all forms of child right abused and proposed strategies which will help churches to advocate the situation in church members.
Zakaria Mnkai, UEM Programme Officer
The work is implemented by the UEM Co-workers in the Africa Department.