By Esther Namirimu
Every June 16 the world celebrates The Day of the African Child. This has been happening since 1991, when it was first initiated by the now disbanded Organisation of African Unity (African Union today).
While governments, NGOs, international organisations and other stakeholders gather to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the full realization of the rights of children Africa on this day, some have come out to reflect on the importance of celebrating it.
Members of Rotary Club of Kampala-Impala recently convened at Katikati restaurant-Lugogo Bypass to discuss whether there is really need to mark The Day of the African Child.
At the meeting, Victoria Sekitoleko, the founder of the Speaker’s Forum, said that we all need to consider stories about children seriously.
“Every child is special and all children are our responsibility,” she said.
Some stakeholders feel children are accorded with less media coverage than they deserve, yet they are sometimes at the centre of critical issues in society like child abuse, education, child sacrifice, to mention but a few.
The New Vision newspaper publishes a weekly magazine – Toto Magazine – specifically to be consumed by children. This usually highlights the lighter side of childhood to help nurture and develop skills and also to sharpen children’s learning abilities on top of what they study at school.
Meanwhile, Saturday Vision – a sister edition to New Vision – dedicates its Page Two for stories written by Gladys Kalibala of lost and abandoned children. Through such coverage, a number of such children have been reunited with their families or caretakers.
Other local media air programmes dedicated to children.
Gladys Kalibala (in brown) with Members of Rotary Club of Kampala-Impala. PHOTO/Esther Namirimu
On her part, Sekitoleko emphasized that everyone should do away with the mentality that children get lost everywhere after all.
During the meeting, writer Kalibala, who has had extensive experience with destitute, lost and abandoned children, was called up to the front to share her experiences and views on marking The Day of the African Child.
She told of stories, like Jane’s, who was defiled by her father.
Through having such stories come out in the media, Kalibala said, some readers have come forth to offer help to some of the affected youngsters.
Simon Lutaya, a journalist with NBS television, said he has been reading stories about lost children in the Saturday Vision but had never taken them seriously until he met Kalibala and listened to her stories.
“I have been reading that page and been thinking that this is just another page for Saturday Vision to fill,” he said.
He went on to promise to find a way to work together with Kalibala and also thanked her for sacrificing the little she has to help desperate Ugandan children.
Maria Lubega, who attended the meeting, said The Day of the African Child is worth celebrating because it brings children who need help into the light and through that, Good Samaritans come to their rescue.
“I was touched by Trevor’s story and I will follow up to give some help,” she told of one of the desperate children featured in Saturday Vision.