GNRC members in Kenya led by the Arigatou International Advisory Group Member, Sh. Ibrahim Lethome, and the GNRC Secretary General, Dr. Mustafa Y. Ali, joined other GNRC members across the world in commemorating the Day of Prayer and Action for Children (DPAC) on 24th November 2018 in Kibra, Nairobi, Kenya. About one hundred and sixteen (116) participants including 75 children and youth and 41 parents and caregivers attended the event under the theme, “Protecting Children from Abuse and Exploitation.” The event aimed to sensitize the young on various forms of child abuse and exploitation.
Ms. Zam Obed of Child Life Kenya, who is also a member of GNRC enlightened the children and their caregivers about the Day of Prayer and Action for Children and its significance in ending violence against children in Kibra. She noted that through faith, communities could learn the virtues of tolerance, empathy and love for one another, and slowly people can learn to appreciate one another.
Ms. Riziki Ahmed, a psychologist and a member of the Centre for Sustainable Conflict Resolution (CSCR), advised caregivers to watch and protect their children from negative behaviours such as substance and drug abuse. She shared that the society can be at the brink of collapse if it doesn’t recognize that children are vulnerable to risky behaviour, adding that negative peer influence has great impact in the upbringing of a child. “Make sure you have time with your child…for you children, be free to talk to your guardians and politely request them what you need,” she said.
Sh. Ibrahim Lethome stressed that no religion advocates for destruction and violence, hence a tool to promote peace and co-existence. He noted that the world is now grappling with the problem of radicalization and violent extremism which distorts peace, economy and even education. He urged participants to go back to the teachings of faiths, which advocate for peace, love and unity within the family and the wider community.
Having received the knowledge, children promised to abstain from any kind of violence by signing a pledge dubbed, “I Commit Not to Engage in Violence.” They then participated in a tree planting exercise together with their caregivers, members of the GNRC and staff of Arigatou International – Nairobi. The fruit trees planted signified; the interfaith coexistence between members of different religions, the establishment of new partnerships between different organizations present, and the potential for teamwork between the old and the young. The fruits, once grown, will provide nutrition for the children at the home.
Ending violence against children is an urgent global challenge. With millions of children worldwide enduring some form of violence every year, violence against children threatens children’s rights, well-being, and development. Urgent action is needed from the global community to prevent and respond to all forms of violence against children, wherever they are at risk.
The World Day of Prayer and Action for Children is an opportunity for people of faith to join multi-faith and secular efforts to protect children; for individual religious communities and leaders to be part of a larger global initiative; for organizations working to protect children to accelerate and magnify global efforts to stop violence; and for governments to partner with civil society, including religious communities.