Workshop - Eradicating Poverty affecting Children, Sri Lanka, February 2012

South Asia

Start: Getting the participants to be silent with the environment and spend some time with themselves.Participants were given some time to spend with them walking silently in the meditation surrounding of Vishva Nikethan.

Introduction to the programme:

Participants were explained about the objectives of the programme.
1.  The programme titled “Poverty Affecting Children” is happening in other countries as well. This happens in consultation with children in many countries under the Global Network of Religions for Children  (GNRC) in order to see views of children on poverty.   These views will be presented at a global meeting in June 2012.
Getting to know each other:
Activity 1:
• Children were given materials to prepare name tags for themselves.
• They were asked to stand in a circle.
• The first child was asked to tell his name and do some action and then the second child should tell the first child’s name and act his action by memory and then only he has to tell his name and do his own action. The third should start telling the names and show actions of first and second children by memory and finally his name and his action. In this way names and actions got collected challenging the next child to keep all names and actions in memory. However at the end of this activity all children were able to recognize their names and actions well.
Getting children to be exposed to poverty affected children by reading articles / poems / scripts on poverty
Activity 2:
• There were some articles, poems and some scripts pasted on walls which explained how poverty has affected children in this world in many aspects. All children were made to stand up and read them in order to get them exposed to all aspects of poverty.
• Some of the articles were titled as follows.
“There are people so poor, that the only thing they have is money.” – Armando Fuentes Aguirre.
“Present world of children”, an article by D. Wathsala Kumudini de Silva.
“The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for, is the greatest poverty.” – Mother Theresa.
“Twin evils affecting millions” an article appeared in the Junior Observer.
Child slavery in India – a newspaper article
“Poverty is the worst form of violence.” – Mahathma Gandhi.
Pictures of unprivileged children
Lyrics done by children on their feelings towards poverty and disadvantages that they experience.
Discussion time on above articles

Activity 3:
• Facilitators invited all children to put out their feelings in words after reading the articles.
Given below are some of their feelings and views.
“ Article on child labour made me very sad and unbelievable……”
“ I felt that when there is no unity, we lose everything including peace…….”
“When children lose their parents they are not able to enjoy their rights in children’s homes like they do at home.”
“Acts of adults affect children very badly….”
“Nobody seems they are concerned about rights of children….”
“The article on “There are people so poor, that the only thing they have is money” made me think for the first time that having only money is actually poor and there should be so many other things to be rich.”
“ By reading all these things I felt what a lot I’m having than them.”
• Facilitators further wanted them to put down their felling on to pieces of papers thinking that their views will be then more clearly come out. Some of the views written by them are given below. 
“It would be a valuable social service if we could take initiatives to reduce child abouse.”
“the article on the bomb blast in Bagdad reminded me of the killing of Bhikkus   near Sri Maha Bodhi (………………………………)
“If we are united we can stop dividing ourselves belonging to several ethnic groups and religious groups.”
“We must help children going for labour work.”
“Japan was highly affected by the Second World War, but it has developed very much and although we were not affected we are far too behind than them. Why is that?”
“ So far I thought that the African countries are the countries highly affected by poverty, but here I came to know that it is the Asia Pacific Region is the mostly affected area by poverty. I think it is due to corruption and abuse and they are due to lack of money people have” – A question was raised against this and it was, “Don’t we find abuse and corruption among people who have a lot of money?”. The answer from the same child was, “people with money finally use poor people who don’t have money…”
“Although Lord Buddha has said that we don’t take with us any physical thing when we die, we as people need certain things to live the life until we die such as land and food. The government should provide them. Only talks at the international level won’t do a meaningful thing to reduce poverty.”