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 Children  Kenya Project #33732

Safeguarding: Protect 1,000s of Children in Africa

by VMM International
Safeguarding: Protect 1,000s of Children in Africa
Safeguarding: Protect 1,000s of Children in Africa
Safeguarding: Protect 1,000s of Children in Africa
Safeguarding: Protect 1,000s of Children in Africa
Safeguarding: Protect 1,000s of Children in Africa
Safeguarding: Protect 1,000s of Children in Africa
Safeguarding: Protect 1,000s of Children in Africa
Safeguarding: Protect 1,000s of Children in Africa
Safeguarding: Protect 1,000s of Children in Africa
Safeguarding: Protect 1,000s of Children in Africa
Safeguarding: Protect 1,000s of Children in Africa
Safeguarding: Protect 1,000s of Children in Africa
Safeguarding: Protect 1,000s of Children in Africa
Safeguarding: Protect 1,000s of Children in Africa
Safeguarding: Protect 1,000s of Children in Africa
Safeguarding: Protect 1,000s of Children in Africa
Safeguarding: Protect 1,000s of Children in Africa
Safeguarding: Protect 1,000s of Children in Africa
Safeguarding: Protect 1,000s of Children in Africa
Safeguarding: Protect 1,000s of Children in Africa
Child Rights Club Workshop attendees, Kitale
Child Rights Club Workshop attendees, Kitale

In July, VMM International Child and Vulnerable Adult Safeguarding and Protection Manager, Lucy Monari, travelled from Nairobi to join Project Assistant, Dalmas Obora, in Kitale, Kenya, to hold a teachers’ workshop with the aim of initiating Child Rights and Responsibility Clubs in schools in the surrounding area. These clubs are a tool that the Safeguarding and Protection Programme uses to instigate practical forums in schools, through which to implement the practices and procedures established by the formal introduction of a Safeguarding policy into each school. They also bolster the Positive Discipline Programme workshops, which aim to replace the use of corporal punishment that can still be relied upon by teachers when controlling classes, of often large sizes.

In many communities, it remains the case that children can often be seen but not heard; expected to be silent, obedient, do as they are told and not to think creatively, expressively and take responsibility for their own decisions. Corporal punishment remains a part of the culture and tradition and parents, even sometimes the pupils themselves, request that the teacher beat them as the tried and tested method of instilling discipline and achieving academic results. The introduction of Child Rights and Responsibilities Clubs are the means by which to educate not only the teachers, but also the children, on their equal rights as individuals, no matter how small they may be. They have the right to be respected and to voice their opinions on their education and concerns, working with their teachers to inform and direct their education and environment, to be given and take responsibilities for their own situation and futures and to be respected and valued for this, as active participants within their communities and leaders of the future.

The workshop was held in Saint Martin’s, the Diocesan guesthouse in Kitale, and was well attended by teachers and child safeguarding officers from nine schools in the surrounding area. The workshop was productive and full of engagement from a very motivated group and the discussion continued over lunch. As well as the relationship and academic benefits they note from the use of Positive Discipline measures in the classroom, the teachers were very encouraged by this new medium by which to further bridge the gap between teacher and student and by the learning innovations and team building progress that such a body would effect.

All avowed to begin the process of talking with their principals and other teachers in their school and to address the student body with the intention of establishing a Child Rights and Responsibilities Club in their school. Already, two schools, in Kahuho and Grasslands, have established a Child Rights and Responsibilities Club and we await to see the progress and benefits they make. Project Assistant, Dalmas Obora, continues to visit schools, addressing the students and the teachers about their progress, next steps and monitoring the establishment of these new clubs.

There can remain some resistance to breaking with tradition regarding corporal punishment - if it was good enough for me, it’s good enough for students nowadays. It didn’t do me any harm. If you do not beat the children, they will become stubborn and not learn. – Such attitudes are well understood by VMM International’s Positive Discipline Programme Coordinator, volunteer Eilís McDonald, who was an ex-school principal and also a student herself when corporal punishment was part of traditional discipline in Ireland, not so long ago. Just as then in Ireland, it is a gradual process to phase out corporal punishment in the cultural mindset.

The VMM International Safeguarding and Protection Programme, along with the Positive Discipline Programme, and mediums such as Child Rights and Responsibilities Clubs are continuing to push this change and empower children and vulnerable adults; and it is working. A number of schools in the area now employ the positive discipline principle, having dropped corporal punishment, and have seen the results in children who no longer run away from school and stop attending, but who now come to school every day, because they love it; love learning in a safe environment and are happy to show their appreciation for this to their teachers, instead of fearing them.

Child Rights Club workshop, Kitale, Kenya
Child Rights Club workshop, Kitale, Kenya
Child Rights Club discussion continues over lunch
Child Rights Club discussion continues over lunch
New Child Rights Club in Grasslands school, Kitale
New Child Rights Club in Grasslands school, Kitale
Project Assistant, Dalmas, with teachers
Project Assistant, Dalmas, with teachers
Project Assistant, Dalmas, with pupils
Project Assistant, Dalmas, with pupils
New Child Rights Club, Kahuho school, Kitale
New Child Rights Club, Kahuho school, Kitale
Volunteer Marie Walsh, autism workshop Nkokonjeru
Volunteer Marie Walsh, autism workshop Nkokonjeru

VMM International are very grateful of your support to fund our Safeguarding and Protection Programme for Children and Vulnerable Adults in Africa. We are delighted to give you an update on our progress, to show you how your much appreciated donations are spent in protecting the lives of children and vulnerable persons in a region where human trafficking, abuse and corporal punishment persist, and which make real changes in nurturing their happiness and potential by positively influencing their teachers, parents and the community at large on the rights and respect of children. Below is a breakdown of our activities over the last three months. 

Safeguarding Training: 

In January, VMM International supported a three-day safeguarding training workshop, with 25 participants selected form VMM partners across Uganda, all of whom were designate persons or official Child Protection Officers in their organisation. Inputs and discussions included an overview of safeguarding activities at organizational level over the past two years, a reflection on major gaps and challenges, and planning the way forward. The participants created a working committee at the end of the workshop, to coordinate and strengthen networks among the partners. 

The diocese of Kitale, Kenya, continues to train diocesan personnel, teachers, catechists, care-givers, and general congregations on the concept of child protection and positive discipline. The diocesan Child Protection Officer estimates that the programme has intervened in the lives of hundreds of children, including rescuing those in danger of abuse or human trafficking.

Safeguarding Networking: 

VMM International continues to foster and participate in child protection networks both in Kenya and Uganda to enhance our safeguarding work. In Nairobi VMM is a member of the Nairobi Child Protection Team (NCPT), a consortium of over 45 practitioners and experts in child protection, education, health and legal aid which meets quarterly. The February 2019 NCPT meeting was focused on discussions on human trafficking and particularly the concern that Kenya is both a destination and transit point for child trafficking in the region. The emerging challenges and trends were shared by practitioners and members of the team sensitized on the different facets of child trafficking and the possible intervention linkages.

Positive Disciplilne Programme: 

The Positive Discipline Programme (PDP) mentor, Eilís McDonald, and the two assistants based in Uganda have continued to sensitize schools and communities on the approach of positive discipline and its value to effective learning. 

In January Eilís presented the programme at a VMM International partners' workshop in Fort Portal, Uganda. Subsequently, two dioceses have invited the team to visit their schools and initiate the positive discipline programme. 

In February, the PDP team presented positive disciplilne certification to 6 schools in Fort Portal that had embraced the positive discipline approach and were actively using it with their learners. 

They also had an opportunity to create positive discipline awareness with 33 students of Mountains of the Moon University and 200 students at St George’s Primary Teachers College, Ibanda, both in Uganda. 

In addition, the team also received a request to initiate the positive discipline programme in the Catholic schools of the Diocese of Kitale, Kenya, and Catholic schools in the Dioceses of Hoima and of Kiyinda Mityana, both in Uganda. 

In March, Eilís visited 18 schools in Kitale to monitor their progress in positive discipline, presented positive discipline sensitization to 18 secondary school teachers in Fort Portal and catechists in Kitale diocese, as well as 200 students in Bundibugeo Primary Teachers College in Uganda.

Community Outreach:

Within the community, there can persist a culture of beating, believing that this brings about the best academic results in the child. Parents, on first encounter, may fear that the ‘Positive Discipline’ Programme implies a implication of child 'neglect' and initially, some can be wary of engaging with the programme. They may not be aware of its encouraging and inclusive methodology, positive benefits for the students and the alternative methods offered. Once they understand this the team and the PDP approach are warmly welcomed and even sought after. With your help, VMM International have been working with our partners to create general awareness and dissemination of the Safeguarding and Positive Discipline messages:

Radio Kamwenge and Voice of Tooro, with a listenership of over 2 million people, broadcast positive discipline plays weekly in Western Uganda; and Radio Mitume in Kitale, Kenya, has a weekly session on child rights prepared by the diocesan Child Protection Officer. 

The radio-plays, and the studio and call-in discussions which follow, focus on children and girls'/womens' rights and the role of men and fathers in protection, love, forgiveness and reconciliation, to foster a participatory approach to building a violence-free community. The plays, telling the stories and experiences of real people, followed by phone-in callers relating their own stories, is a successful method of outreach into the broader community. 

Most parents will remember the harsh treatment they received in school as the go-to remedy for correcting mistakes. The plays demostrate how the characters benefit by a change in behaviour and action and act as a broker of the topic for reconciliation with the listeners' own past, and with their parents, and thus, free the way for change in their own approach to parenting. Increasing engagement with this radio format is evidenced through call-ins, letters and messages denouncing violence, especially towards children and women in the community. 

Some recent topics of these radio-plays have been; addressing corruption in society, by using the example of starting as early as bribery in election campaigns for school prefect; and, the role of the police in upholding safeguarding procedures in cases of violence against children, which often go unreported or ignored. The latter included the participation of the deputy spokesperson of the Ugandan police and their press representative. 

Through sensitisation programmes in schools, parent outreach workshops, promotion through the churches and dedicated radio shows, the message of Child and Vulnerable Adult Safeguarding and Protection and employing methods of Positive Discipline is being spread, appreciated, accepted and used. Feedback from those who have benefited from positive discipline methods in their school are stories of student retention, improving grades and real appreciation, replacing fear, by students for their teachers. 

However, this is an ongoing process and not all communities can benefit equally. For instance, it is not as easy to physically reach distant, rural communities to conduct workshops in regions where residents may also not have radios to hear the message at home. It may not seem the most important resource, but simply having the cost of petrol, which is as expensive in Africa as it is in Europe and elsewhere, is vitally important to spreading the Safeguarding and Positive Discipline message beyond the cities and townships.

Our Appreciation:

VMM International are most appreciative of each and every donation made to our Safeguarding Programme Fundraiser on the GlobalGiving platform, as it ensures that this programme will continue to protect thousands of children and vulnerable adults in the short term, and positively change their lives, happiness and potential, as well as that of their communities and their own children in years to come. It also gives the potential to VMM International to utilize our expertise to spread this message and methods to programmes throughout our 30+ partner organisations, built up through partnership over 50 years of professional volunteering in international development. 

Prog. Manager, Lucy Monari, Safeguarding workshop
Prog. Manager, Lucy Monari, Safeguarding workshop
Positive Discipline Cert Presentation, Fort Portal
Positive Discipline Cert Presentation, Fort Portal
Radio interview with Ugandan police spokesperson
Radio interview with Ugandan police spokesperson
Positive Discipline mentor Eilis McDonald & pupils
Positive Discipline mentor Eilis McDonald & pupils
Positive Discipline Parent Outreach Workshop
Positive Discipline Parent Outreach Workshop

Links:

VMM Safeguarding Workshop Participants in Uganda
VMM Safeguarding Workshop Participants in Uganda

The VMM International Safeguarding & Protection Programme and the work of Safeguarding Manager, Lucy Monari, and Positive Discipline Programme Volunteer, Eilís McDonald, continue to spread and support training and activities, creating awareness and protecting the rights of children and vulnerable adults, at community level through our network of partner organisations in Africa.

Since September Lucy has made monitoring visits to our partner organisations including the Diocese of Kitale and a safe-house in Nairobi, run by HAART, for girls rescued from trafficking. The spread and support of our Safeguarding Programme and message is complemented by crosscutting engagement. Lucy also participated in live call-in question time on the Radio Mitume safeguarding show, centering around the topics of cultural practices and the effect of ICT and digital communications on safeguarding. As a member of the Safeguarding Steering Group for Faith Congregations in Nairobi (the city which is the hub for human trafficking in East Africa), Lucy has collaborated on a draft safeguarding manual which will be used to disseminate safeguarding best practice into NGOs in the city and beyond, into many other regions.

Lucy is also secretary of the VMM International Safeguarding Committee in Kitale, which oversees how VMM International liaises with its partner organisations, while identifying the emerging issues in the local context. Kitale is also a key location for a strong safeguarding presence. Many of those fleeing from hunger in northern Kenya arrive to Kitale, resulting in a large number of children living on the street. Lucy is currently preparing the materials and teaching manual for a new Childrens’ Rights and Responsibilities Club programme in Kitale and a teacher training workshop, to commence this February.

In addition, Lucy lead a three-day safeguarding workshop in January with partner organisations in Uganda, which doubled as a monitoring update of programme implementation with each partner.  Positive Discipline training workshops, run by Eilís McDonald, have been ongoing in Fort Portal, Uganda. From February to December 2018, 62 schools each received a 3 or 4 session safeguarding programme, delivered by 2 full time facilitators, reaching a total of 1,355 teachers and 36,328 pupils. Further monitoring of the Positive Discipline Programme training with primary schools in western Kenya is scheduled to take place in March.

VMM International is most grateful of your support and we will keep you posted on our developments and achievements in our next update as our mission and methods continue to spread and change lives.

Graphic& educational presentation from policewoman
Graphic& educational presentation from policewoman
Positive Discipline used at Safeguarding Workshop
Positive Discipline used at Safeguarding Workshop
Lucy hands participants safeguarding certificates
Lucy hands participants safeguarding certificates
Eilis at Positive Discipline School Workshop
Eilis at Positive Discipline School Workshop

Links:

Positive Discipline Programme Teacher Training
Positive Discipline Programme Teacher Training

Supporting the Message of Child Rights across Africa:

The work of VMM International’s Safeguarding Programme continues to build a strong network of trained staff and community leaders through our project partners throughout East, South and West Africa. It continues to spread and support safeguarding activities at community level and the protection of those abandoned, abused and trafficked. Your donations mean that the strength of these networks and services of Child Rights awareness, advocacy, protection and training are continuing to make a real, growing and lasting positive effect on the lives of thousands of children and vulnerable adults all across the region.

Your donations also continue to fund the services, activities and support provided by our Positive Discipline Programme, run by VMM International volunteer Eilis McDonald. A particularly good and far-reaching medium of this programme for spreading the safeguarding message from our Africa HQ in Kitale, Kenya, creating awareness and engagement, is the weekly radio talk-show on Child Rights by Rose Obonyo, a VMM trained Child Protection Officer. This showcase beacon is a model which VMM International hope to replicate throughout our network of project partners.

Eilis, Rose and many more of our volunteers in the field continue to work with such partners, in Kenya, like; the Morpus Centre in West Pokot; Agape, an organization working with street children; and Handicap International, currently supporting the safeguarding case management committees in Kitale. Through the implementation of safeguarding policies, training and monitoring within our grass-roots, community project partners, the safe and inclusive activities and structure of student lessons and staff training create a happy and respectful atmosphere around Child Rights which ripples through families to the whole community.

The greatest needs of our Safeguarding Programme remain educational opportunities through providing school fees and child and vulnerable adult protection services. Yet the critical work performed by our volunteers and the benefits of the services provided by your donations to those abandoned, trafficked and within their own families, are hugely appreciated and impactful. Great work is being done through our Safeguarding Programme and the far-reaching positive network effects of child rights continue to spread. 

We’ll keep you posted on our developments and achievements in our next update as our mission and methods continue to spread and change lives.

Student Positive Discipline Programme Activities
Student Positive Discipline Programme Activities
Child RIghts radio show
Child RIghts radio show
Two Positive Discipline Programme students
Two Positive Discipline Programme students
Example Safeguarding Policy
Example Safeguarding Policy
This happy student just loves reading
This happy student just loves reading
 

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Organization Information

VMM International

Location: Dublin 6 - Ireland
Website:
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Twitter: @VMM_Int
Project Leader:
Van Garber
Dublin 6, Ireland
$5,747 raised of $15,000 goal
 
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