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Posts Tagged ‘Africa’

By: Maria Dieci

Every four years, the world comes together over a shared love of soccer.  National pride blossoms and old rivalries resurface during the World Cup.  Emotions soar as entire nations watch with bated breath as their teams fight for the highly coveted title of world champion.  With hundreds of millions of people in every corner of the world tuning in to the matches, the tournament is proof of soccer’s ability to capture the world’s attention.  South Africa, the host country, understands its enrapturing nature, and uses it to promote children’s rights.

A TEAM EFFORT

UNICEF has partnered with various local organizations to bring education, opportunity, and safety to vulnerable children and youth.  A program called World Cup in My Village brings the excitement of the matches to rural African villages with live screenings.  In addition to giving children a safe space to watch the matches, the screens transmit vital information regarding children’s health and their rights.

Besides the promotion of children’s health, the World Cup campaigns seek to ensure protection for vulnerable children during and after the tournament.  Civil society partners in South Africa have worked together to make this a reality.  Child friendly spaces, established at the stadiums, offer protection and child care to children who become separated from their families or are targets of sexual exploitation or violence.  Protective measures have been established across the country.  Now, all nine South African provinces have trained social workers who can identify and effectively help children at risk.  The Red Card Campaign targets families, children, and tourists, and educates them about the dangers and consequences of child trafficking, exploitation, and abuse. Education comes in the form of red cards similar to those given to soccer players on the field for committing fouls, but these hold important messages about protection, prevention and awareness.

Education is empowerment, and every child should feel empowered to take charge of his or her life.  Through the 1Goal campaign, FIFA and civil society organizations across the world hope to tackle the poverty and gender inequalities in education currently present in South Africa.  The campaign culminates on July 11, with a summit on education in Cape Town.  Currently, 72 million children are denied education.  1Goal strives to put every one of these children in school by 2015.  2015 marks the end date for the Millennium Development Goals outlined by the UN as well.  This campaign is an effort to make these goals a reality, because currently there is not enough action being taken.  If efforts do not increase to secure universal education, 56 million children will still be denied schooling in 5 years.

CHILDREN FOR THE FUTURE

What these campaigns realize is that children are the future.  We cannot afford to lose a generation of doctors, soccer players, activists, and teachers because they were unable to attend school.  We should be doing everything we can to give youth these opportunities.  These campaigns use a universal love for soccer to promote a universal need for education and healthcare.  Because of their efforts, vulnerable youth are being equipped with the tools they need to map out their own futures and score their own goals.

RETURN TO THE OUR GLOBAL VICTORY HOMEPAGE WHERE YOU CAN PARTICIPATE IN GIVING YOUTH OPPORTUNITY!

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written by: Maria Dieci

In the past week, there is one crisis that has gotten a lot of media attention: the issue of Somali child soldiers.  This catastrophe has not been on the forefront of the international agenda in the past, merely flying under the radar as something that no one wanted to deal with directly.  This is no longer.  The United Nations classifies the Somali Transitional Federal government as one of the “most persistent violators” of sending children to the front lines.  The Somali government deploys hundreds of children – some as young as nine – to make up its army.

In 1991, the Somali government collapsed, leaving the country lawless and disorganized. Children were robbed of opportunity, of safety, and of a future.  Vulnerable and hopeless, these children were the perfect soldier recruits.  Today, the vice-chairman of the Elman Peace and Human Rights group, Ali Sheik Yassin, estimates that 20% of government troops and 80% of rebel forces are children.  It is disheartening to hear these numbers and to think of the lost childhoods behind them.

In the past few days, the United Nations has taken a strong stance regarding this issue.  It stands ready to “adopt targeted and graduated sanctions” against commanders who recruit child soldiers.  The president of the Somali government has taken action per the prompting of the international community.  He has ordered the military chief to “conduct a full review” on the issue and demobilize under-age army recruits immediately.

There is hope for the children who are victims of this crisis, and for Somalia. If successful, policies developed to stop the use of child soldiers in Somalia could serve as a model for the demilitarization of child soldiers in other areas. The initial policies outlined by the UN are only the beginning of solving the problem, however.  Children who are released from their military service are often traumatized, unable to reintegrate into society, and ostracized by their villages and families.  They need to be presented with opportunities to complete their educations and rehabilitation programs so they can take their lives back and turn their futures around.

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By: Maria Dieci

Doctors without Borders (MSF) and VII Photo agency partnered to document and show the world the neglected and mostly invisible crisis of childhood malnutrition in a multimedia exhibit in New York City.  The exhibit, Starved for Attention, marries video footage and photography from some of the most accomplished human rights photojournalists to create haunting and powerful collages of various malnutrition “hotspots” — Burkina Faso, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, India, Mexico, and the USA.

The Brooklyn based exhibit is minimalist: the main room is a little too big, a little too bare…a visitor walks in and immediately feels slight discomfort, obviously the intended reaction.  The photos and videos are projected from several television screens, mounted on sleek white free-standing panels.  The footage is soundless, except for two stations where one can choose to turn on the accompanying documentary with a remote control.  It is powerful and uncomfortable to see a steady stream of lifeless eyes, emaciated bodies, and hopeless situations.

A GLOBAL TRAGEDY

At any given time 195,000 children are plagued by malnutrition worldwide.  About 80% of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.  According to MSF, malnutrition kills at least one third of the 8 million children under the age of five who die each year.  The root cause is largely poverty: many families simply cannot afford nutrient-rich foods. Families struggle to survive on simple and nutrient poor diets of porridges made with whatever local cereals are available.  Maize, rice, sorghum and millet are often staples in these areas.

Mothers are not ignorant of what is happening: they watch their children slowly waste away before their eyes.  There is nothing that they can do besides give up their own food for their children, which they do.  In the exhibit, one desperate mother revealed that she would regularly give her rations to her hungry children; she only needed to eat once a week to stay alive.  But this is not nearly enough.  Mothers should not have to watch their children die, helpless to save them.

HOPE FOR THE FUTURE

Every one of these deaths can be prevented if the nutritional requirements of young children – the most vulnerable are infants under two years – are met. Starved for Attention not only focuses on the tragedy of childhood malnutrition, but more importantly on the successful programs put in place to fight it, and how they must be developed.  Mexico and the United States exemplify the successful implementation of these strategies.  They focus on children up to two years of age: direct nutrition programs ensure that even children from the poorest families have access to invaluable foods such as milk and eggs.


Our Global Victory is committed to providing children worldwide with futures full of opportunity and promise.  Visit our website to get involved and learn more about our mission!

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By: Maria Dieci

The International Day of the African Child has been celebrated annually on June 16 since the Organization of African Unity founded it in 1991.  This holiday is celebrated to honor the memory of all of those killed and all of those who marched in the 1976 demonstrations in Soweto, South Africa.  Thousands of school children in the city took to the streets to protest their inferior quality of education and to demand the right to be taught in their native language.  The rally was the target of police brutality.  Hundreds of young boys and girls were gunned down.  In the few weeks of protests that ensued, more than a hundred people were killed and more than a thousand people were injured.  This day of remembrance does not simply dwell on the past, but looks toward the future of African children.

The focus of this holiday is on the collective responsibility of national governments to plan and budget for children’s rights.  UNICEF executive director, Anthony Lake, asserts that the millions of African children that die before they learn to read can be saved with an increased investment in health care and education by the governments.  These advances will not only save the lives of the children, but will improve the development of the nation.

Reasons to Invest in Children:

  • Health and Education = Productive members of society
  • Increased education leads to better workforce
  • Educated workers earn more – boost local economy
  • Better health leads to healthier future generations
  • Cycle of poverty will be broken!

Our Global Victory helps secure optimistic futures for Africa’s children.  Help one of our partners, the HoPE Primary School project, give Ugandan children the gift of an education.

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The founder of OGV speaks with conference attendees.

Our Global Victory was pleased to be a guest at the 2010 Voices for Africa conference at the Harvard Graduate School of Education on April 10, 2010.

Speakers included Dr. Shirley Burchfield from World Education, Dr. Tatiana Carayannis from the Social Science Research Council, and Godfrey Orach Otobi, a student of Fletcher School at Tufts, who shared his personal experiences growing up in conflict.

Rich discussions followed informative presentations on topics aimed at highlighting the challenges of accessing quality education faced by African children in conflict and post-conflict situations.

Some thought provoking issues that were discussed were:

The Youth Bulge in Africa

Participants discussed how the youth bulge in Africa will affect the economy and the possibility of increasing future conflict. Many states greatly affected by conflict in Africa are made up of over 50% youth under the age of 25. Many young people have not had access to education for many years and have lived in traumatic situations. Some scholars believe that these youth will be more likely to become involved in future conflict. However, the overall consensus of practitioners and researchers at the conference was that this was an extremely important opportunity to provide these youth with opportunities and that they could influence their states in positive ways that would result in economic growth and peace for Africa.  Discussed by Dr. Tatiana Carayannis of the Social Science Research Council.

GET INVOLVED! Forego two lattes this year – and make a small donation of $10 – to build classrooms for a post conflict refugee community in Uganda so they can become more sustainable!

Dr. Carayannis, Richard Opio, and Dr. Mendenhall

Getting Vital Information to the People of Africa

With limited resources, how can positive messages and accurate news spread through Africa? Many practitioners and advocates are harnessing the power of radio to reach the African populations. Organizations such as Search for Common Ground, are utilizing the radio to promote peace between groups and empower young people using interactive programming. Other organizations offer important educational information including agricultural, disease prevention, and objective news to help increase political participation from villagers. Discussed by Sally Chin of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Adult Literacy Education

A crucial need that is often overlooked in literacy education is the need to educate illiterate adults in a meaningful way. This includes finding out what they need and want to learn and what would be most useful for them to learn. Some possibilities of note were how to make prices in the marketplace, basic literacy, and issues useful to their everyday lives. Most adults do not wish to go through the rigorous literacy programs that are taught to children in primary school and need a program that is adapted to suit their lives. Discussed by Atema Eclai of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.

GET INVOLVED! Forego two after dinner desserts this year – and make a small donation of $10 – to give adult education to people in the marketplace of Vandeika Benue State Nigeria so that they can afford to send their children to school!

Sally Chin, Joe Read, and Atema Eclai

The afternoon talk given by Godfrey Orach Otobi on The Effect of Conflict on Education in Uganda tied the conference together and made people appreciate a deeper understanding of the days topics. Godfrey described growing up in conflict and how his experiences made it impossible for him access a quality education. He described how he and his classmates fled for their lives from rebels who captured them repeatedly after every escape. Despite constant trauma, it was his mother’s inspirational words and thoughts on education that gave him the strength to survive. He now advocates on behalf youth in Uganda and to giving them opportunities for a bright future.

The overall tone of the conference can best be described by Atemi Eclai’s words when she urged people to look at Africa “through a lens of hopefulness”.

{RETURN TO THE OUR GLOBAL VICTORY HOMEPAGE}

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