|Participants at Workshop (Photo credit: Theresa Campbell (APC)|
The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) with the support of the USASID Advancing Partners and Communities (APC) - Guyana Project held a Children’s Rights Workshop last Friday commemorating International Human Rights Day 2015 which was held under the theme, “Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.” This workshop, which was attended by representatives of nearly thirty Civil Society Organisations focused on the rights and issues affecting orphans and other vulnerable children (OVC) in Guyana.
Chief-of-Party of the APC Project, Folami Harris, expressed that “we have an obligation, a moral sense to protect and respect the rights of our children but there are not a lot of caregivers and programmes in Guyana to assist vulnerable children in communities,” in her opening remarks. “How we respond to children is very important but unfortunately we do not have enough people dealing with children specifically,” she related to the gathering of nurses, social workers, caregivers, counsellors and peer educators in attendance. “We as caregivers don’t always do it, teachers don’t always to the extent it needs to be done and this needs to change. We are in a very unique position. Very few of us have the capacity to offer formal dispute resolution and support.”
APC’s Chief-of-Party Folami Harris giving Opening Remarks at SASOD’s Workshop (Photo credit: Theresa Campbell, APC)
“We need to have the courage to do something, we know we should act but we don’t know how to act when we look at child abuse in its various forms – neglect, physical, emotional… no matter how we look at the statistics the figures are always bigger.” Harris posited that children’s rights, as a branch of human rights, need to be championed. “When we protect our children we protect ourselves… we protect future generations to come and we protect humanity.” She continued to say that children should be respected, their voices and opinions – not shoved aside or looked at as lesser versions of man, she called for after school programmes and counselling support, stating that children need to be listened to and guided and most of all protected from harm.
“Today we will learn about children’s rights, we will value them and respect what children are entitled to as human beings so that we can render that support without conflict or malice,” she concluded.
The day’s proceedings had Programme Officer of Help and Shelter, Danuta Radzik presenting on the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child; Trustee on the Board of Directors for the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association (GRPA), Attorney-At-Law Dela Britton on the Legal Framework in Guyana on Children’s issues; Director of the Childcare and Protection Agency, Anne Green on State Services available for Children in Guyana; and Other Services and Support Offered to Children was presented by Kean Chase, Project Officer of ChildLink.
Minister within the Ministry of Education with the Responsibility of Youth Affairs, Nicolette Henry sent her regards noting that the work of the SASOD must be commended and the workshop held is testimony of the organisations’ commitment to addressing the rights of all Guyanese. She expressed her Ministry’s solidarity with the organisation, noting that the Government of Guyana looks forward to continuous engagements in the future and that the initiative of the workshop will blossom into sustainable activities.