Saturday, June 17, 2006

Day of the African Child...

There really wasn’t a whole lot I felt I could do yesterday for the ‘Day of the African Child’ besides showing some children that they are special and that someone cares. So when I went to the government’s therapeutic feeding center downtown to check on a patient I referred, I brought along stuffed animals to give to the malnourished children. I know it amounts to nothing in the grand scheme of things but it was fun to be able to give them something small to show them that they matter and to brighten up their day. It brightened up my day to see some of the children smile.

See below for more information on the ‘Day of the African Child’ and it’s importance in Sierra Leone.

Taken from article “UNICEF: Children are Africa’s greatest resource”

NEW YORK, 16 June 2006 – UNICEF celebrated the Day of the African Child today, calling on the world to recognize that children are Africa’s greatest resource. “On this Day of the African Child, we celebrate children as the future of Africa,” UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said Friday. “But we also recognize and address the considerable problems they face – from extreme poverty and conflict to malaria, malnutrition and HIV/AIDS.”

The Day of the African Child is celebrated on June 16, the day in 1976 when thousands of black school children in Soweto, South Africa, took to the streets to protest the inferior quality of their education and to demand their right to be taught in their own language. Hundreds of young boys and girls were shot; and in the two weeks of protest that followed, more than 100 people were killed and more than 1,000 were injured.

The theme of this year’s Day of the African Child is violence against children, which threatens the physical, emotional and psychological well-being of children. Violence is a particularly pressing threat to the current and future well-being of Africa’s children because of the continent’s disproportionate burden of conflict, extreme poverty and HIV/AIDS.

Taken from “Coping with a legacy of violence in Sierra Leone” by Sarah Crowe, UNICEF

MAKENI, Sierra Leone, 15 June 2006 – The decade-long war in Sierra Leone, which left 50,000 dead, was one of Africa’s most brutal. Atrocities against women and children were commonplace. The war turned children into drugged killing machines, giving them power beyond their age.

As countries around the world mark the Day of the African Child tomorrow, this year’s theme – ‘Stop Violence against Children’ – will have a special resonance for the children of Sierra Leone.

During the war in Sierra Leone, 10,000 children were forcibly conscripted as porters, fighters or sexually abused ‘bush wives’. Soon after the war ended in 2002, the full scale of the terrible legacy was revealed at Sierra Leone’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), modelled loosely on South Africa’s panel on apartheid crimes. The TRC does seem to have healed some of the wounds, but the real scars left on children cannot be seen.

Today in Sierra Leone, peace signs boldly declare a new era – ‘War don-don. We love peace’. But violence against children still lurks in the shadows. Roadside cinemas showing extreme violence and rape scenes proliferate in the busy alleys of Freetown and other cities. Admittance costs just a few cents, so the shacks are full of small children.

For the first time in Sierra Leone’s history, however, some help is at hand for these children. Hidden discreetly in hospitals, new centres have been set up to help young victims of sexual abuse – though funding for the centres is fragile.

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~ Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. micah 6:8 ~