June 16 marks Day of the African Child (DAC). A day to recall the 1976 uprisings in Soweto, when a protest by black school children in South Africa took to the streets.
The children protested the inferior quality of their education and demanded their right to be taught in their own language. Hundreds of young boys and girls were shot down by security forces.
To honor the memory of those killed, and the courage of all those who marched, DAC presents an opportunity to focus on the work of those committed to the rights of children on the continent, to consolidate their efforts in addressing the obstacles for realizing these rights.
The theme for this year’s DAC is “Conflict and Crisis in Africa: Protecting all Children’s Rights.” This theme honors the efforts to elevate child protection in conflict areas in Africa as well as the protection and preservation of life and well-being of African children.
Children for Life (C4L)
To further celebrate DAC, more than 1,000 children came together for a graduation ceremony at a primary school in Nairobi. The children, drawn from 30 schools located in the urban slums of Nairobi, have been trained on life skills as a critical response to the challenges facing young people today.
Each of the 30 schools recruits 20 – 50 students between the ages of 10 – 14 years old. They form a C4L club with two teachers who guide them during meetings.
Feed the Children holds hourly training sessions with these pupils twice in a month. The club members, after undergoing the life skills sessions, become peer educators and disseminate the same messages to their peers. The children are helped to be assertive, good communicators and generally build strong characters that can say no to the vices that affect their access to education. These activities are meant to address the challenges of early marriages, early pregnancies, sexual violations, drugs and substance abuse amongst others.
Some of the topics taught include: Healthy behaviors, body changes, common illness and mapping health services, HIV & AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases, stigma and discrimination, care and support, understanding mixed messages and peer pressure, planning for your future, career, refusing drugs & alcohol, etc.
Since the inception of C4L, our team has seen an increase in knowledge among the peer educators, improved decision making and behavior change.