Day of African Child is an annual event observed every 16th day of June on the continent and around the world honoring the memories of students massacred in the 1976 Soweto Uprising in South Africa during apartheid for protesting against injustices in education system and inequalities at the time.
It was designated as Day of the African Child in 1991 by the African Union to further emphasize protection of the rights of children; it is a day for all those who care to reflect on children in their various situations.
The Day of the African Child (DAC) 2016 will be observed under the theme “Conflict and Crisis in Africa: Protecting all children’s rights”
Elizabeth Amongin, a Child Protection Officer at CRO Uganda explains that children in conflict and crises go through a lot of injustices that range from abductions, child/forced marriages, sexual abuse, trauma, deprivation in terms of education and other social services including health especially when it comes to places like refugee camps where most times the conditions are very deplorable.
In such situations also prevails moral decadence where survival for the fittest is practiced. But even this becomes complicated if there are no systems in place to address such eventualities.
Children in such situations have gone through multiple losses, some beyond imaginable limits and conflicts are still on-going in Africa. These children most times do not value life and are hopeless because what they see is aggression, hate and revenge which is not a good environment for child development.
This calls for us to unite against conflicts and address their root causes which usually revolve around inequality, marginalization and exclusion. Whereas governments have enacted policies on child rights, there is necessity to support them with robust programmes to address needs of vulnerable children who are the most affected.
Such services include counseling- to handle the psychological aspect because children go through trauma as a result of what they have seen and gone through, lost identity to name but a few. Education and health services should be a must because the ultimate goal here is to preserve life.
Child Restoration Outreach (CRO) works with marginalized children (street children) enabling them access rehabilitation, education and finally transform their lives into productive persons in society.
CRO academy started after the current manager of CRO Mbale Project initiated the idea and implemented it with the purpose of developing the talents of street children; reduce on drug abuse, promote rehabilitation and self-esteem development through sports.
CRO Football Academy has several teams formulated and registered with FUFA (Federation of Uganda Football Association). There are 3 teams participating the FUFA Competitions that are running in Uganda namely;
i) CRO FC (senior team) currently in the FUFA Big league. It has also participated in National Super League for two seasons.
ii) Junior team currently in the 1st Division and
iii) CRO Academy in the Regional Competitions
In Eastern Uganda, CRO FC and CRO Academy teams have the best sports facility located in Bugema , Mbale still undergoing development and also have the best coaching and talented children in football.
CRO Academy also nurtures talent through other teams which include: - Under10 Boys, Under14 Boys, Under16 Boys, Under14 Girls and Under16 Girls.
These teams have won many awards and trophies most recently in the Big League, AIRTEL Rising Stars, Chrisc East African Tournament in Moshi Tanzania among others.
There are many other activities that have led to the development of a full sports facility and also introduction to other sporting activities such as Basketball, Volleyball, Badminton Table tennis and mind games like chess.
Future of Sports
Proposals are underway for the teams to continually develop sports through engagement in various competitions.
CRO supports many children in sports and most of them have excelled in Education and sports and represented the Country in football in Brazil, South Africa, and East Africa among others.
CRO works with the children, the communities, the local government and other development organizations to improve the wellbeing of the children. Members of the community are trained in child rights, participation and protection. The community child protection committees work hard to identify and report cases of child abuse to relevant authorities.
We engage the teachers, police and local leaders to enhance their knowledge and skills in protecting children.
This year in October, CRO hosted local leaders from the Mbale and its neighboring districts in Eastern Uganda to discuss on the increasing numbers of children and young people on the streets.
The meeting took place at CRO Mbale Center where leaders met the children rescued by CRO, those under rehabilitation as well as those who are still residing on the streets.
Leaders were tasked to help in sensitizing their communities on how they can help their children especially those who have been re-integrated into their communities as well as on formulating ways of improving people’s livelihoods.
Parenting education is also provided to the parents and other care givers to promote non violent relationships, and non violent forms of discipline with their children. This has helps the community to understand their role in protecting children