UNIVERSAL CHILDREN’S DAY: Salesian Missions Highlights Children’s Rights Education and Child Welfare Programs
(MissionNewswire) Salesian Missions joins the United Nations and other organizations around the globe in recognizing Universal Children’s Day. Celebrated each year on November 20, the day was established in 1954 to promote international togetherness and awareness on children’s issues worldwide. It also marks the day on which the Declaration of the Rights of the Child was adopted in 1959 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child was held in 1989.
The theme of Universal Children’s Day 2015 is “Promoting children’s welfare and children’s rights” and focuses on protecting and promoting children’s rights to survive and thrive while making sure their voices are heard and they reach their full potential.
“This year, I wish to emphasize the importance of ensuring that the commitments made by the international community to the world’s children are extended to a group of children who are often forgotten or overlooked: those deprived of their liberty. Far too many children languish in jail, mental health facilities or through other forms of detention. Some children are vulnerable because they are migrants, asylum seekers, homeless or preyed on by organized criminals. Whatever the circumstances, the Convention dictates that the deprivation of liberty must be a measure of last resort, and for the shortest time. Our aim must be to pursue the best interests of the child, prevent the deprivation of liberty and promote alternatives to detention.” – UN Secretary General Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The UN notes that this year’s observance falls at a time when 60 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes, more than at any time since the Second World War. Almost half of those displaced are children fleeing oppression, terrorism, violence and other violations of their human rights. This observance also comes following the landmark adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which points the way towards peaceful, prosperous and inclusive societies for all. Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals will depend on reaching the most vulnerable children.
Salesian Missions serves more than 1 million students at more than 5,300 primary and secondary schools — most located in some of the poorest places on the planet. It also provides nearly 1,000 vocational, pre-professional and training programs with an emphasis on serving vulnerable youth.
In honor of Universal Children’s Day, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight programs that focus on children’s rights education and provide for the protection, education and promotion of children’s welfare around the globe.
Salesian missionaries around the globe are working to end child trafficking and other abuses by addressing their root causes. From identifying traffickers and holding them accountable to educating families about these predatory practices, missionaries are working to change local laws and strengthen legal protections for youth. Child victims of trafficking are forced into all types of labor including work on farms and in sweatshops, construction, hotels and restaurants as well as in private homes as domestic servants. Some are forced to beg on the streets and are used as child soldiers. Others are sold into sexual slavery and forced into prostitution. In Benin, a country in West Africa, Salesian missionaries are focusing their work on providing hope and healing to victims of child trafficking. The Don Bosco Center in Porto-Novo, the capital city of Benin, cares for more than 200 victims of child trafficking, many who have been sold into slavery by their parents for the equivalent of $30 or less. Nearly 40,000 girls and boys are forced into agricultural or domestic labor each year within the country of Benin alone.
In a country where less than half of children finish primary school, more than 50,000 children have received the encouragement and support needed to complete an elementary education through the Don Bosco Children Fund since its inception in 1992. The Don Bosco Children Fund assists poor youth between the ages of 6 and 15 who are either unable to go to school or have had to drop out due to poverty. Through the fund’s program, youth not only receive support to continue their education, they also receive a monthly assistance package consisting of goods and cash. Social workers ensure that participants make progress and remain in school and those with special aptitude are further supported and encouraged to pursue college coursework. During the 2013-2014 school year, the Don Bosco Children Fund supported 4,426 students in Cambodia’s government-run schools and another 637 students in schools managed by Don Bosco Schools Battambang.
The Child Rights Education and Action Movement Project, launched in November 2012 by the Salesian-run Bangalore Rural Educational and Development Society, has started more than 200 child right’s clubs that are responsible for training more than 8,000 children and adults on the rights of children while providing resources to keep children safe. Child Rights Education and Action Movement Project staff have also provided human rights education in schools for thousands of children, youth and teachers as well as formed task forces, peer education programs and three regional networks and one state level network to address the issues of child labor. Early this year, 140 school children representing 63 human rights clubs from 55 schools participated in a two-day event in collaboration with juvenile justice professionals from the police and courts in the Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts of Andhra Pradesh. The event focused on the children’s right to be heard, a basic right established in India’s Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In 2014, Don Bosco Fambul, a leading educational and vocational organization that serves disadvantaged youth in Freetown, Sierra Leone, in collaboration with Catholic Caritas and Sierra Leone Prisons Service, launched the Legal Support Project with the intention of helping the most disadvantaged inmates incarcerated at Pademba Road Prison in Freetown. The project provides legal representation for poor inmates who would otherwise be unable to access legal services to ensure their rights are upheld. As a result of this project, one young prisoner held for nearly six years without a conviction has been released. Many of the prisoners being assisted through the project do not have family outside the prison to ensure that the court and prison system acts in a fair and balanced way. Don Bosco Fambul hopes the project will free up to 100 inmates who have been held for more than three years without a conviction.
UNICEF –Press Release
UNICEF report – For every child, a fair chance: The promise of equity
United Nations – Universal Children’s Day