Pupils at the Durbar
The Catholic Diocese of Yendi has held a community Durbar on Child and Vulnerable Protection at Ando-Nyamanu in the Yendi Municipality of the Northern region.
The event falls under the Child and Vulnerable Protection Project aimed at helping to improve child protection practices and meaningful participation of children in decision-making and actions that concern them.
It is targeting over 123 schools and institutions under the Yendi Diocese and aims to reach about 2,250 children and vulnerable adults by 2024.
The project seeks to adapt and implement the child rights policies from the Navrongo-Bolgatanga Diocese and the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference in 13 schools and Catholic facilities under the Yendi Dioceses and also provide counseling and emotional support services to abused children and vulnerable adults in two parishes under the Yendi Diocese.
About 13 basic Catholic schools one in Yendi, Chereponi, six, in Wulensi, and six with one orphanage in Sang and Makayili are benefiting from the project.
Community members of Ando-Nyamanu at the Durbar
The Project Technical Advisor of the Yendi Child and Vulnerable Protection Project, David Yiridong Issaka, indicated that according to the World Health Organization, the widespread failure to protect children is a global crisis, with 0.5-1.5 billion children experiencing violence each year.
“Statistics from the WHO stipulate that over 150 million girls and 73 million boys are raped or subject to sexual violence, and 115 million children engaged in extremely harmful forms of work as captured in the International Labour Organizations annual report. This global crisis represents a major violation of children’s rights; an unacceptable situation, which must be remedied urgently, no matter what the costs,” he said.
According to him, the widespread inadequate care and protection of children are also affecting the achievement of broader development objectives relating to child survival and health, education, economic growth, and equity.
“Many girls and boys die each year because they are abused, neglected, or exploited. Vulnerable children that survive into adulthood can be at a significant disadvantage, with many experiencing developmental delays, gaps in their schooling, and mental and physical health problems due to their maltreatment,” he said.
Mr. Issaka said stigma, discrimination, and diminished life chances faced by children who are abused, exploited, and neglected exacerbate inequity. Whilst the resilience of such children can carry with it some advantage for societies, in general, these boys and girls are not able to contribute to economies to their full potential.
“In addition to the damaging impacts on children themselves, the negative effects of child maltreatment on human capital, combined with the costs associated with responding to abuse and neglect, means that inadequate care and protection also hinders economic growth,” he added.
Mr. Issaka was of the view that the alarming impacts of child protection failures are likely to grow in significance unless something is done urgently.
“Global trends such as climate change, migration, and urbanisation are all increasing children’s vulnerability and governments are not investing enough resources in building and maintaining comprehensive child protection systems. Children around the world want more support to enable them to grow up free from violence, and within caring, safe families.”
The Yendi Child and Vulnerable Protection aims at ensuring that girls will not be forced into harmful early marriage, and will be able to wait until they are at least 18 before getting married.
It also aims to ensure that child mortality falls because children are loved and nurtured within families and girls are not neglected in favour of their brothers.
Furthermore, it aims at eliminating children in harmful or hazardous conditions, risking their well-being and health and depriving them of their education.
“Children will be able to learn in schools as they are not terrified of the threat of bullying or corporal punishment or too afraid to go to school because they might be raped by their teachers, Societies will become more equitable as children’s chances in life are not seriously damaged by their lack of care and protection,” he said. “Children will grow up in resilient communities that can withstand the shocks of disasters and conflict, and protect them from violence, exploitation, abuse, and neglect even in emergencies.”
Girls and boys will be happier, safer, and more able to develop to their full potential because they grow up in caring and protective families and get the love and attention that it is human nature to crave, he said.
He noted that the Yendi Child and Vulnerable Protection Project so far has implemented the Formation of Child Rights Clubs in selected schools, Trained Patrons of Child Rights Clubs, Documentation and publication of the Diocesan Child Protection Policy, Awareness creation on Child Protection, Training Diocesan Stakeholders on Child Protection, among others.
The Project Technical Advisor of the Yendi Child and Vulnerable Protection Project called for collaboration between and among all the relevant stakeholders in the various beneficiary communities leading to improved quality of life for children and vulnerable adults.
The Chief of the Ando-Nyamanu community, Ngisah Alidu, thanked the Catholic Church for the project and assured that his palace will collaborate with the relevant stakeholders especially the police to ensure that anybody abuses the right of children in the community is arrested and made to face the law.
The Headmistress of the Ando-Nyamanu R/C Basic School Complex, Madam Kate Kotie, revealed that the Child and Vulnerable Protection Project has improved enrollment in the school ever since the project was launched.
“ Before the project, most pupils dropped out of school but for the intervention of the project we have been able to bring some of the children back to school, and children from other communities have moved to our school due to the impact of the project.”
A pupil of the Ando-Nyamanu R/C Basic School Complex, Sandra Thompson told DGN Online that the Child and Vulnerable Protection has impacted her a lot adding that “ it has helped me to know my right and how to protect myself from being abused and I want to thank the organizers.”
FROM Eric Kombat, Nyamanu