The Ministry of Social Welfare in collaboration with its international and local partners have commemorated the 41st Day of the African Child's with residents in Kambia District.
The theme for this year's celebration is" The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for Children in Africa: Accelerating Protection, Empowerment and Equal Opportunity " The ceremony attracted distinguished personalities from across the country and thousands of school going pupils from the district.
In his welcome address the Paramount Chief of Magbema Chiefdom, PC Bai Farma Tass Bubu N'gbak, expressed appreciation to the Ministry for choosing his district for this year's celebration, noting that the year 1976 will forever remain in the heart of children across the world because of the massacre that befall thousand of children in South Africa.
The Paramount Chief appealed to children to use the day as a reflection on their past and urge the government to accelerate a means to help them achieve their desired goals. He called on parents and guardians for them to encourage their children to focus on education, explaining that education is the backbone towards any country's development.
Speaking on behalf of UNICEF, Mr. Geoff Wiffin, disclosed Sierra Leone has taken some important steps in the past years citing the government's launched of the Africa Union campaign on ending child marriage in August 2016 and the involvement of children in the preparation of state budget in the county.
According to him the local theme: 'join han for Make Salone Pikin Beteh Tay Go', meaning its time for all stakeholders at all levels from state actors to communities to come together and find solution to end violation against children rights, be it teenage pregnancy, child marriage, Sexual and Gender Base violence, or lack of access to education and health services.
He assured of his organizations continued support to the government and the ministry in ensuring issues of children get the appropriately attention from the relevant authorities.
Chairman Parliamentary Committee on Social Welfare, Hon Hassan A. Sesay, appealed to parents and guardians for them not to allow their girl child to engage in early marriage or force them into early mirage. He maintained that early marriage is an added burden on families and a deterrent to government efforts in developing the countr's educational system.
He however revealed that with the domestication of the Child Right act of 2007, that gives children's the right to education, better health-care services and friendly environment for them to live. The member of parliament maintained that children have been given the right to speak for themselves rather than listen to others as an effective and modern means of communication.
Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Social Welfare, Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, the Deputy Minister Mrs. Rugiatu Neneh Koroma expressed appreciation to the Vice President and other stakeholders for gracing the celebration and commends staff of the Ministry for their role in making the celebration a success.
She maintained that children are blaming elders for giving them out to marriage at an early age simple because stakeholders in their various communities will have their own share (Bora). The deputy Minister disclosed the Ministry is in constant touch with Sowei across the country as a way of discouraging the initiation of children below the age of 18 years.
She called on the community people to serve as security protecting and monitoring the activities of children, " We always give children the opportunity to participate during our annual budget preparations, for them to have the opportunity to channel their programs and suggest ideas.
In the absence of the substantive Minister, the deputy Minister appreciates the children of Kambia and assures of her Ministry commitment in upholding the right and dignity of children across the country.
Delivering the Keynote address, Vice President, Victor Bockarie Foh expressed government commitment in protecting and up holding the right and dignity of children at all levels.
He describe the local theme for this years celebration as timely, stating that its time for all to come together and fight for the right and dignity of children across the country. According to him the government has done a lot in protecting the welfare of children for them to have a brighter future, describing the efforts of parents and guardians towards children as very vital.
President Children's Forum Network, Kambia district, Kadijatu Bah, presented a position paper to the Vice President on behalf of children's across the Country urging the government to speedily look into their matter and provide the necessary support.
By: James Bampia Bundu