On children, human rights & the work of @kidsclubkampala @oliviambarker on #BAD13 cc @blogactionday12

Today is Blog Action Day 2013, an annual event where bloggers across various disciplines the world over pledge to highlight one social issue. I’ve been participating for the last few years and thought I’d like to continue this year as well. There are currently 1,717  blogs from 124 countries, across 26 languages registered to take part in Blog Action Day 2013; I encourage you to join us – it’s not too late!

In keeping with this year’s theme of Human Rights, I’d like to bring attention to the work done by Kids Club Kampala, an organisation I have mentioned here before, that I support through mentoring.

Over the summer, Olivia Barker, KCK’s Director, was over in Uganda. I asked her what she was up to, and this is what she said:

This summer in Uganda has been amazing. It was very busy and I did so much stuff, but it is very exciting too. One of the main things I was doing was managing teams of international volunteers coming out which was great. I also did a lot of training of our Ugandan volunteers, ran a children’s camp for a week, checked up on all the projects, women’s groups and sponsored children and opened a new KCK centre. In June we launched a new project called the Ewafe project (‘where we belong’ in Lugandan) which is to support children in Kampala who have been abandoned. This summer, we placed several abandoned children into foster families. We also rescued one girl from living and working on the streets, and bought 2 acres of land to start building an emergency care home for abandoned children.

What follows below is a post by Olivia on children and human rights, seen through the lens of what KCK do. If you’d like to support them, details are at the end of the post.

For 80% of children in Uganda, their rights are being abused in some way.

One of Kids Club Kampala’s core values is to uphold the rights of the child. We believe that all children have the right to be loved, respected and cared for. They have the right to have fun in a safe environment, whilst having access to adequate food, shelter, clothing, education and healthcare.

The children that we are working with come from extremely poor households and the conditions in the slums of Kampala are shocking. Many families often survive on just one meal per day and cannot afford to send their children to school. People live in very overcrowded conditions, sanitation is poor, and children often do not own shoes so it is impossible to keep clean and away from infection. Disease and illness is rife, children suffer often from malaria and medical treatment is not free in Uganda. Illiteracy and unemployment rates are very high, as is the prevalence of HIV. To add to this, the slums are notorious for crime and violence at night, children are often abused, forced to work on the streets or caught up in gangs. Many children have been orphaned, neglected or simply abandoned.

Kids Club Kampala is making a huge difference to the lives of so many children and individuals in the slums of Uganda. We are passionate about empowering these children and communities, letting them know they are loved and are worth something, and helping them to overcome their situations and poverty. As an organisation, we are working with our children, volunteers and communities to ensure that children’s human rights are being upheld, advocated for, and not abused. We are doing this in several ways:

  • We are educating children about their human rights and encouraging them to advocate for and raise awareness about their rights.
  • We are creating a trusting relationship with the children, young people and vulnerable adults that we work with. We provide counselling services for children who have been abused, neglected or need support in any way. They can come and talk to us, and receive support, advice and practical help.
  • The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child details how the needs of children become their rights. We are helping children and communities to meet their basic human needs through providing food, clothing, toys, soap, and other essential items. We feed almost 4000 children every day across all of our KCK centres, and regularly provide children with clothes, shoes, soap, toys, mosquito nets and more.
  • School is not free in Uganda, making it extremely difficult for poor families to afford to send their children to school and meaning many poor children miss out on a vital education. Education is a basic human right and is essential to breaking the cycle of poverty. We believe that all children deserve the chance to learn and to have a bright future. Our education project allows children who have no access to education to have the opportunity to take part in informal education classes. We also run a School Sponsorship programme, allowing children access to formal education through paying their school fees, enabling them to grow up educated and with a good future ahead of them.
  • One of our main aims is to allow disadvantaged children the chance to just enjoy being children, to play and have fun away from the stresses and worries of their everyday lives. We do this through playing games and sports, running music and dance classes, football training, arts and crafts and lots of other fun activities. This is in accordance with Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that children have the right to ‘rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child.’
  • We are talking to parents and getting to know families in the communities that we work in to educate them, support their human rights, and to raise awareness about children’s rights.
  • All of our staff and volunteers have signed up to and follow Kids Club Kampala’s code of conduct to ensure that we are keeping children safe and protected at all times. Our volunteers receive regular training about child protection, children’s rights and First Aid.

Please join us in our work for children’s rights. There is a long way to go and we can’t do it alone. Please visit our website www.kidsclubkampala.org or email info@kidsclubkampala.org to find out more about how you can get involved and support us.