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Themed "Creating a Safe Space for Children: End Violence Against Children,"GNRC Uganda committee was launched on 14th September 2022 in a hybrid event that took place in Gulu, Northern Uganda. The launch was the twelfth, in the bid to strengthen and reinvigorate the GNRC at the grassroots. Participants included faith leaders from different religious backgrounds, men, women, and children. 

Mr. Geoffrey Omony, GNRC Uganda Coordinator introduced the committee members and informed the participants that the aim of the committee was to ensure that children’s rights are protected. Children fully participated in the launch. Some like Bongowat, Aweko, and Ayers recited a poem, emphasizing the need for, and importance of child participation, and the joy to speak their minds and be heard.

Dr. Mustafa Y. Ali, Secretary General, GNRC, commended GNRC Uganda for the work they continue to do. "GNRC Uganda is unique as it is based in rural Uganda, where children had been recruited into violent gangs in the past,” he said. He thanked GNRC Uganda for creating safe spaces for children, especially in Northern Uganda, and encouraged the coordinators to work closely in advocating for the rights and well-being of children in Uganda.

Rev. Fred Nyabera, Director, End Child Poverty (ECP), congratulated GNRC Uganda for the launch and urged the committee members to harness and leverage on their abilities to further achieve their vision. He informed the participants of the ECP@10 campaign, urging them to visit the ECP website to make their pledges towards ending child poverty and thanked them for committing to plant 1000 trees for the ECP@10 campaign.  

Ms. Maria Lucia Uribe, Director, Ethics Education, acknowledged and congratulated GNRC Uganda for actively allowing children to participate during the launch. She noted, "Children need to be at the center of attention because they are the voices that we need to hear and that is imperative."

Ms. Nageeba Hassan, Co-coordinator, GNRC Uganda, gave an overview of their work. She described the impact of COVID-19 in Uganda on teenage pregnancies and called for multi-stakeholder cooperation to have proper parent-child communication.

Dr. Dorcas Kiplagat, GNRC Network and Programs Coordinator, spoke of the important role that Youth Leaders for Restoration and Development (YOLRED) organization, had played in helping child soldiers, and thanked Sheikh Musa Khalil for helping the youth achieve GNRC Uganda's goals. 

Dr. Ali pronounced GNRC Uganda committee officially launched, and to symbolize the launch, GNRC Uganda members wrote their pledges to protect children’s rights and well-being.

On Saturday, 27th August 2022, GNRC Bhutan launched its committee in a hybrid event in Lanjophakha Thimphu, Bhutan to strengthen and reinvigorate the Network. 113 participants attended the event, among them, faith leaders, men, women, and children. The event was live streamed via the Youth Society of Social Services (YSSS) Facebook platform.

GNRC Bhutan highlighted the work of the Youth Society of Social Services (YSSS) and its impact on the community by presenting a short film, highlighting the status of various programs and accomplishments and how they impacted the community.

Dr. Dorcas Kiplagat, GNRC Network and Programs Coordinator, thanked GNRC Bhutan for the invitation to their committee launch. She introduced the four Arigatou International initiatives, GNRC’s global reach, and highlighted some of the work that GNRC does around the world to advocate for the rights and wellbeing of children. She also briefly mentioned the GNRC assessment report and congratulated GNRC Bhutan for following up on the recommendation from the GNRC assessment report to strengthen and reinvigorate the Network. 

GNRC Bhutan members celebrated the launch of the committee by unfolding the Khadar (Scarf), which was later conferred to the newly elected president, Thinley Yoedzer, 18 years, and the child ambassadors, Sonam Deki Pelzom, 8 years & Namgay Doeljang Tshoki, 6 years.  

GNRC Tanzania launched its committee on 31st August 2022 in a hybrid event at the United Nations (UN) House, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The event, whose objective was to strengthen and reinvigorate the Network, brought together forty-two participants from the Christian, Muslim, and Buddhist faiths. Seven committee members led by Ms. Joyce Mdachi, GNRC Coordinator Tanzania, religious leaders, children and youth representatives, and a representative of persons with disability attended the event.   

The meeting started with a prayer from Rev. Pannasekara, Chief Monk of the African Continent, and Bishop Method Kilaini, a committee member. Ms. Mdachi welcomed the attendees to the launch.

Dr. Kiplagat, GNRC Programs and Network Manager, commended GNRC Tanzania for being a model of the GNRC network. She informed the participants that the launch resulted from the recommendations of the 2020 GNRC assessment report. "We believe that the GNRC country and committee launches will expand our global reach and diversity," she said.

                                

Ms. Mdachi shared a presentation highlighting GNRC Tanzania's work and achievements over the years. These achievements included engagement with children and committee members, engagement with the Learning to Live Together (LTLT) (an intercultural and interfaith program for Ethics Education), actions on ending Gender Based Violence (GBV), and advocating for vulnerable children such as those living with albinism. She remains hopeful that the challenges faced by GNRC Tanzania can be addressed through multi-stakeholder collaborations. "I would like to recognize and appreciate the efforts of the late Sr. Jean Pruitt, the Myochikai and Arigatou International family and Secretariat, the Directors of the four initiatives, and Ms. Finike Gofomoka, Zamir Noorali, Ms. Elizabeth Mwase, and Mr. Yusuf Masanja, for making a difference in the lives of children."

Ms. Maria Lucia Uribe, Director of Ethics Education for Children, thanked Ms. Mdachi and her team for their hard work and commitment to creating a better world for children. "We live in a globalized world with huge potential for collaboration to protect children."  She also commended GNRC Tanzania for using peace clubs to bring together children from different religious backgrounds and further emphasized the need for spiritual growth in children to grow in a safe environment. 

The children presented a poem expressing the need to include children in advocacy processes that aim at bettering their lives. Two students gave speeches thanking GNRC Tanzania for all they had learned and promised to teach the same to their fellow students. 

Ms. Maria Lucia Uribe pronounced the GNRC Tanzania committee officially launched.

  

 As a symbolic act to mark the committee's launch, participants wrote their pledges advocating for the rights and well-being of children on a whiteboard. 

  

GCCA First Cohort

The first cohort of the GNRC Country Communications Associates (GCCAs) was inducted into the GNRC network on 17th August 2022 at a hybrid meet-and-greet session with the GNRC Secretariat. The meeting was to familiarize the GCCAs with the Secretariat staff and further deepen their understanding of their roles. The GCCAs were drawn from ten countries: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Comoros, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, Lebanon, Palestine, and Pakistan.

GNRC country coordinators selected the GCCAs to focus on the Network’s visibility and profile on various social media channels. GCCAs highlight GNRC work at the grassroots level and content relating to children’s wellbeing. 

Meet and Greet 1

Ms. Stacy Ndung’u, GNRC Communications Manager, welcomed the participants. She commended the GCCAs for their commitment to the Network, appreciating their work and service. Ms. Stacy further shared informed them that the GNRC secretariat was planning to conduct branding guidelines training for the team. Ms. Tracy Memusi, Communications Support, gave updates on the progress the GCCAs had made. She commended their work and encouraged the GCCAs to continue serving the children in interfaith dialogue and action. 

The GCCAs made recommendations on how to increase the visibility of GNRC on social media. 

The GNRC Secretary General, Dr. Mustafa Yusuf Ali, thanked the GCCAs and welcomed them to the GNRC network. He encouraged the GCCAs to contribute to the vision of the GNRC of building a better, peaceful, and just world for children and young people.

 

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GNRC Pakistan was launched on 27th July 2022, in Lahore, Pakistan, at a ceremony that brought together twenty-nine (29) participants; among them, GNRC Pakistan committee members, led by the Coordinator Mr. Iftikhar Mubarik and representatives from different organizations and faith traditions namely, Islam and Christianity. Children were also represented.

  

The event began with a recital of the Holy Quran by Mr. Arshad Abbasi, followed by prayers from Pastor Saleem Khokhar. Mr. David Paul, GNRC Pakistan Co-Coordinator, opened the event by welcoming the participants and giving an overview of the activities implemented by GNRC Pakistan. All the activities mentioned aim to protect children from all forms of violence, abuse, exploitation, and harmful practices.

 

In his opening remarks, the GNRC Secretary General, Dr. Mustafa Y. Ali, appreciated GNRC Pakistan’s work towards strengthening and reinvigorating the Network and congratulated them on launching the committee. 

Pastor Saleem Khokhar appreciated the establishment of the GNRC Pakistan committee, stating that religious communities need similar platforms that can help build knowledge and skills to deal with violence, abuse, and exploitation of children. 

Ms. Rashida Qureshi, a committee member, reiterated GNRC’s commitment to creating safe spaces for children to learn, explore, and express themselves without fear. She also emphasized the need to engage children in actions for child protection to ensure that GNRC Pakistan is working towards the meaningful participation of children in all its matters. 

Sheral, a child member of GNRC Pakistan, shared that every child has a right to live free from all forms of violence and abuse. “There is a need to empower children through consistent efforts so that they can identify the various types of violence and abuse and be able to react in such difficult situations,” she said. 

Dr. Mustafa pronounced the GNRC Pakistan committee officially launched and wished participants the best in their work towards a world free of child violence.

 

GNRC Lebanon Committee was launched on 8th June 2022 via an online event attended by a total of eighteen (18) participants from different faiths including Christianity, Islam, and Druze. 

Anthony Saade, a GNRC Youth committee member shared the activities that have been implemented in the efforts of the GNRC Lebanon to end violence against children. He pointed out that GNRC Lebanon is working closely with children by creating a safe space for them to share some of the challenges they face. 

 

Fr. Abro Raad, GNRC Coordinator for Lebanon shared some of the challenges that the country is currently facing, highlighting that those challenges negatively affected the education of children in Lebanon.

Dr. Ali commended the GNRC Lebanon members for their continued efforts in building a safe world for children despite the challenges they are facing. He encouraged them to continue working towards creating a better world for children. Dr. Mustafa then, officially launched the GNRC Network and committee.

GNRC Comoros Committee was launched on 30th June 2022 at a hybrid event, attended by a total of twenty-nine (29) participants, among them GNRC Comoros committee members, faith leaders, children and GNRC Coordinators from other countries under the leadership of the Country Coordinator, Mr. Said M’Changama Akim. 

Oustadh Safari Mohamed a member of GNRC committee, gave a brief history of the GNRC anchor organization in Comoros, that was started in 2015 and works to ensure the well-being of children in the country.  He thanked Arigatou International for continued support. 

Speaking during the launch, the GNRC coordinator Comoros, Mr. Akim highlighted some of the forms of violence that children face in the coastal regions of Comoros such as physical, psychological abuse and early marriages among others. He urged all the stakeholders involved to join hands and work together to eliminate these social norms. “Our activities are directed to supporting vulnerable children especially victims of sexual abuse,” he said.

                       

Some of the collaborations that they have formed include a close work relationship with the mainstream media and social media influencers to create public awareness against sexual abuse and identifying other forms of child exploitation. He mentioned that children are given a priority in their Network so that they can learn to be responsible and to know their rights. 

                                  

GNRC Secretary General, Dr. Mustafa Y. Ali thanked and commended GNRC Comoros for their continued work and commitment to children. He pronounced GNRC Comoros Committee launched in the presence of faith leaders, children and members. 

 

 

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