Giving children a voice

There is something beautiful about watching a child help another child, or a child learning something and re-teaching it to others.

Viva’s partner network CRANE empowers children to speak up for their peers and to bring change to the lives of other children.

There are now over 400 Child Ambassadors across Kampala, Uganda. These children take part in regular seminars and camps where they are equipped to go back and lead Safe Clubs in their communities. The Safe Clubs are made up of groups of children who work together to tackle issues such as peer pressure, health and sexual abuse.

Through the hard work of these ambassadors, over 100,000 children now know more about their rights and responsibilities and in turn are empowered to reach out to other children.

Richard’s life could not be more different since he met Timothy, a Child Ambassador. Below Timothy shares his beautiful story of helping change a life and making a new friend.

It’s not just in Uganda where Viva is empowering children to bring change to their peers. Around the world Viva is passionate about giving children a voice where they may have otherwise been overlooked.

Every September in Bolivia, the Good Treatment Campaign brings 25,000 children together to stand against the culture of violence that is so dominant in their cities. These children demand change from adults who are ignorant of, or have ignored, the ways they are treated. The movement has now spread across Paraguay, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

Most situations of domestic violence in the UK are not as extreme as those in Central America but people here can also be guilty of not really valuing children. Take the Church as an example, where even those with many resources can end up shifting their young people to the edges. Often when leading others in prayer, children are given set prayers to read, perhaps out of fear that they couldn’t pray without them.

What is so beautiful about Viva’s World Weekend of Prayer, held each June, is that the majority involved are children. These children gather together to ask God to remember other children who, like them, face tough situations.

Last year in Kisumu, Kenya, 300 Child Ambassadors met to pray and prepare for the next day where each child went and led prayer in their individual churches. Prayer events also happened in Guatemala, Mexico, Panama and in Zimbabwe, where one event saw 5,000 children come together.

Children can be a catalyst for change in their communities. However to do this, they need to be recognised for the potential they have and then empowered and given the freedom to reach this.

Through both the prayer and actions of children, Viva is already seeing local communities change.

– In Nepal, children and parents are receiving warnings about the risks of trafficking through door-to-door visits.

– In Uganda we have seen abuse stopped, schools begin boiling unclean water and parents buy mosquito nets.

– In Bolivia last year we saw 65,000 adults pledge to stop harming children.

All because of the actions of children.

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