Protecting the rights of all children in conflict and crisis situations

 Children singing at an outdoor event
Children from Bob Leo Children's Home in West Pokot County, Kenya singing during this year's Day of the African Child Celebrations.

Commemorating the Day of the African Child in Kenya

A group of young men dancing at an outdoor event ©CBM
Acrobats from Wasanii Sasa, youth group entertaining the audiences.
This year’s Day of the African child celebrations saw CBM join one of its partner school St. Francis School for the Visually Impaired in Kapenguria, West Pokot County in Kenya. The venue was Bob Leo Children’s Home where both children with and without disabilities are catered for.

This year’s theme “Conflict and Crisis in Africa: Protecting all Children’s Rights”. In line with the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC).

The celebrations invited children from the neighbouring schools in the area to join in the celebrations through a 3 KM walk from Keringet Primary school to Bob Leo Children’s Home.  An estimated number of about 600 children from the county drawn from the following schools St. Francis School for the Visually Impaired,  Keringet Primary school, Kitaleposho Primary school,  Kanglikwan Primary school and Tartar Girls High School.  

This gave the children an opportunity to articulate their views through songs, poems and dance on the need to end conflict and crisis in the area. Most of the songs were about children whose education is often discontinued during such crises. Also thrilling the crowds with their electric performances was Wasanii Saa acrobats, a youth group engages in performing arts through music.

The situation in West Pokot County

A group of women singing at an outdoor event ©CBM
West Pokot County Deputy Commissioner Mary Mburu (Centre) joins the local women in a celebratory dance.
Speaking during the event, the Deputy County Commissioner, Ms. Mary Mburu noted with concern that children in most parts of the county still face immense challenges that have hindered them from attaining their full potential, especially those with disabilities.

Additionally, she pointed out that it has become as a common occurrence for the boy child to drop out of school and join raiders. The newly recruited child warriors are tasked with the responsibility of providing and defending their families, and protecting the family’s livestock, while the girl child is passed off for early marriage. Children with disabilities are unfortunately considered as worthless in the community.
“We need to protect our children from conflict and crisis as they are among the most vulnerable groups when war and conflict erupts, without our children there is no future we need safe environments to ensure that the future of our children is secured,”. 

Ms. Mburu further called on all stakeholders involved in protecting and promoting children’s welfare in the county to ensure that all children have equal opportunities.

The myths about children with disabilities

Children accompained by a female and male adults take part in a walk ©CBM
Pupils from St. Francis School for the Visually Impaired actively take part in a march to commemorate the DAC.
The County Director of Children Services, Mr. Mugun also noted that children with disabilities in the Pokot community were initially considered to be signs of bad omen and therefore, were killed to wade off the curse.

However, he noted that that practice is an outdated practice and that parents with children with disabilities should not hide their children.

“Gone are the days of the barbaric practices that denied our children the right to life, I would like to urge all parents with children with disabilities to come forth and seek help from our offices as no child is a curse, all children are a blessing from God, we need to assist these parents as a community and not to stigmatize them.

About the Day of the African Child

Every year on June 16 the world celebrates “Day of the African Child”. The day is in honour of the children who were brutally gunned down in 1976 in South Africa as they protested over the need to improve the quality of education for African children in the country. The day is also commemorated to champion for the continued need to raise awareness on the various plights faced by African children.

Our responsibilities to all children

A teenage girl speaking at an outdoor event ©CBM
Ruth Wekesa, a student from Tartar Girls High School addresses guests at the DAC 2016 celebrations.
Addressing the various stakeholders in the county, CBM’s Child Safeguarding Officer, Heidi Ayuma urged the county officials and the community members present to ensure that the opportunities offered are inclusive of all children and the need to safeguard the rights of all children especially those with disabilities as children with disabilities are more likely to bear much more of brunt of violence during conflict.

“As a society it is our responsibility to safeguard the rights of our children by ensuring that our environment is safe from crisis and conflict. I would like to urge all stakeholders both from the government, private sector and Non-governmental organizations to be part of our initiative as CBM in championing for the protection and safeguarding of the rights of all children,” said Ayuma.

Echoing the same sentiments, Children Representative Ruth Wekesa, a student from Tartar Girls High School urged the children present without disabilities to embrace their fellow children with disabilities in order to end the discrimination and labelling of children with disabilities.

Other stakeholders from the County Government and the NGO’s present during the celebrations were the Area Members of the County Assembly, County Court Executives, and the Sub-County administrator, World Vision, Girl Child Network and AMPATH. 

CBM is a child safe organisation and believes in the protection of the rights of all children with and without disability.  CBM joins the rest of the world each year in marking the day of the African Child as part of its commitment in advocating for rights of all children and safeguarding the rights of all children.


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