November 20, 2009
After the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted in 1989, the UN General Assembly recommended that all countries choose a day to promote children’s welfare. Although observance of the day varies from country to country, the Government of Canada designated November 20th as National Child Day, to commemorate the day on which both the Declaration on the Rights of the Child (1959) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) were adopted. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child addresses the rights of children and youth under the age of 18. It recognizes their basic human rights and gives them additional rights to protect them from harm. The Convention’s 54 articles cover everything from a child’s right to be free from exploitation, to the right to his or her own opinion and the right to education, health care, and economic opportunity.
The adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the creation of Universal Children’s Day reflects the growing recognition that children are important and valued members of society, now and in the future. Universal Children’s Day celebrates children just for being themselves. It reminds us that children need love and respect to grow to their full potential. It is a day to listen to children, to marvel at their uniqueness and all they have to offer.
A key objective of Universal Children’s Day is to increase awareness of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Since its adoption by the United Nations, the Convention has been signed or ratified by more countries than any other international treaty. Over the past decade, the Convention has proven to be a valuable tool for promoting the rights of children everywhere around the world.
Courtesy UNA Canada
Children become caregivers to AIDS-affected parents
There is nothing more hopeless than to see a child care for her AIDS-affected parents. She serves as caregiver and nurturer to terminally ill parents instead of being the recipient of parental care and nurture. She understands that the day will come all too quickly when she will be alone, perhaps caring for other siblings.
South Africa is one of the most HIV and AIDS-affected areas in the world and it is a place where the John Wesley Community Centre and its HIV and AIDS orphans program provide a beacon of light in an otherwise depressing life. Children come to this Johannesburg centre to receive a much-needed support system. About 350 children from ages 5 to 13, most of them orphans, come for hot meals, to interact with other children and to have the opportunity to speak to an adult about the problems he or she is facing at home. The Centre has a trained social worker who will make the appropriate referrals for social services in the area. They also come to rediscover what it means to be a child: to play, to laugh, to read books. These children are matched up with families in the community who act as foster parents and there are currently more than 120 such foster families. They provide a loving, nurturing environment. Zaida Bastos, The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) program coordinator for Africa, says they have provided most of the funds for the John Wesley Centre since 2005, with initial funds coming through PWRDF’s Partnership for Life campaign. She has visited the centre often and has been a witness to the transforming work that takes place there in the lives of these HIV and AIDS orphans.
Another beacon of hope shines brightly in Hamburg, South Africa, on the country’s southeast coast. It is home to Keiskamma Health Trust which provides a pediatric HIV and AIDS clinic for babies affected at birth. Children born with HIV generally die by age 2 and they tend to be ignored by the health care system because of their hopeless prognosis. The health trust provides physical, medical and emotional care to these children and their parents. Keiskamma is a community clinic, providing care for 38 children. Doctors monitor the children’s health and their reaction to various medications. Staff also provide much needed health education to mothers. PWRDF has been a financial partner with Keiskamma Health Trust since 2000 and contributed significantly to setting up the HIV and AIDS pediatric program.
Similar programs dealing with maternal and child health can be found among partner organizations across Mozambique, Tanzania and Burundi as well. Most are integrated programs that help expectant mothers have safe pregnancies and that monitor a child’s nutrition. Since malaria is the major cause of child mortality under age 5, PWRDF programs also provide mosquito nets for children under age 5. Every day is children’s day across most of Africa. From newborns who are born with HIV to the young children who end up caring for dying parents and living lives as orphans, PWRDF provides funds for a wide range of children’s programs. If you feel moved to support these ministries, consider a regular donation to PWRDF so that they can continue to provide support to these health centres and other initiatives. Anglicans are making a difference.