The day of the African child has been celebrated on June 16th every year since 1991 when it was first initiated by the organization of African Unity (OAU). It honors those who participated in the Soweto uprising on 16Th June 1991. It also raises awareness of the continuing need for improvement of education provided to African children.
On June 16th every year governments and all stakeholders involved in child protection gather to discuss and try brainstorm solution to challenges facing the African child. The global theme for 2018 is “leave no child behind for Africa’s development.” In line with this this celebrations theme was coined to read “Leave no child behind in developing Unilever Tea Kenya and Africa.”
Nationally, the day was marked on 16th June 2018 at Westland’s Sub County, Kihumbuini Primary. The event was graced by many stakeholders who focus on child protection and the children had a platform where they show cased their talents and were able to learn a lot from the performances. During the DAC celebrations, about 4400 children participated in the celebration. GVRC actively participated in the planning meetings and also provided 4400 packets of milk for the children. This event provided GVRC with opportunities to network.
GVRC, UN Women, UTK and other stakeholders commemorated DAC in Kericho on July 7th, 2018. This brought together schools from the tea estates and others in Kericho. There were six presentations from six schools including Kedowa Special School for the Deaf and Dumb, who presented a drama where they were displaying how society overlooks the children with disability. The presentations revolved around the theme as the key message drawn from all of them was all children are equal and none should be discriminated against regardless of their status. The emphasized on the need to avoid assuming all children are homogenous but rather treat each child individually for they all have different needs.
The key note address emphasized on the children to work hard in their studies as education and good discipline are the only way to success in life. Justice Jane Onyango insisted on the need for all the stakeholders in child protection to ensure that all children access basic needs which include education and healthcare services.
Ms. Alberta implored the children to do what is expected of them which is just to study hard and in case any of them is abused they should be one another’s keeper and report to the relevant persons who include teachers and parents.
This was the same message echoed in the speech from Grace Wangeci, Gender Specialist, UN Women read on her behalf. She insisted on the willingness and deliberate intent of UN Women to end all forms of Violence Against women and girls which has been amplified by their partnership with Unilever Tea Kenya in a safety project that seeks to ensure that Women and girls are socially, economically and politically empowered and live lives free from sexual harassment and other forms of gender based violence in Kericho and Bomet counties. The investments have also focused on enhancing respectful relationships amongst boys and girls through positive masculinity and respect to human rights.
There was edutainment that made sure the event offered learning to the children and the same time have fun. There was a play by Kericho Youth Center that depicted a father who wanted to deny his daughter education and marry her off to an old man. After the daughter won a jackpot the father changed his mind .The moral of the play was to show the stakeholders that they should not look at children as sources of wealth but rater empower them with education which will help the build brighter futures.
FEMNET showcased the defense skills they had been imparting in the girls within the schools as a method of combating sexual harassment.
A cake for the kings and queens clubs was cut and shared among all the participants. All the participating schools were awarded with a certificate, trophy and badges for being part of the project. The event ended at 1:30 pm with a vote of thanks from Unilever tea Kenya and the participants were served lunch as they socialized.
Take home for the children was that their only task is to study hard and ensure the pass their exams. They also learnt defensive mechanism in case of sexual harassment and where to report. The stakeholders also had a share of the cake as they learnt the procedure of reporting and the need to create safe spaces for the children and not pose a risk to them. With the presence of Kedowa special school it was very clearly on the need to address children differently as they all have different needs and abilities. The event had both gender represented as the number of boys was 175 and girls 225(Total 400)