CALM Africa stands for Children’s Rights Advocacy and Lobby Mission. True to their name, CALM seeks opportunities to build awareness and using local radio has become a great platform for their campaigns. Muheebwa Hilary tells us what they’ve been up to lately…
In an effort to expand the community outreach and child protection awareness programs, CALM Africa has started using radio programs. Together with Naguru Teenage group, CALM Africa staff has been participating in radio shows to talk about child protection mechanisms on Radio Simba, a vernacular broadcasting radio station in Kampala.
“We started the radio program last year, but this year we have taken it to another level by participating in the program more frequently,” explains James.
NetworkAfrica ranks Radio Simba among the top 20 radio stations in Africa. Naguru Teenage group engages in counseling and guidance of the youth. Calm Africa concentrates on ensuring that communities embrace child protection mechanisms in urban and rural areas, basing on national laws and international conventions.
National laws include the Uganda constitution, The Children Act and The Penal Code Act Cap 120.Policy frameworks include The Adoption of Children Rules, 1997. International convections include The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. There are Regional instruments protecting the rights of children.
“The aforementioned give us a very good direction and guidance in advocating for child protection and promotion of their rights,” explains Dr James Ssekiwanuka, Team Leader of CALM Africa. “We have the legal framework and the policy framework,” he adds. The government of Uganda through the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development has a policy framework on how vulnerable children and orphans can be assisted and which services to give them. A number of government agencies are involved in this framework. These include the police, local government, judiciary and civil society organizations.
“The most important person in the protection of a child is the parent,” adds the Team Leader. “CALM Africa always requests family and community members to take responsibility to provide support for children who don’t have parents”.
According to James, when it comes to Uganda, there is a problem of AIDS pandemic. “AIDS is still a contributing factor to the child welfare problem. It has led to the emergence of child headed households,” he explains. Other factors include conflict, famine and urbanization which have also created unfortunate circumstances for children and family systems.
Whenever CALM Africa staff goes for the radio talk shows, the public is given an opportunity to ask questions about child protection. When we talk of child protection, we are advocating to ensure that every child enjoy their rights. Children who are disadvantaged are the ones who cannot easily enjoy their rights; they need special focus and tailored programs.
There is no doubt that the problem of child neglect, abandonment and child trafficking continue to gain more attention as a result of globalization. Globalised communications systems have allowed new technologies to shade light on this subject.
From these talk shows, CALM Africa has generated new ideas. One of such ideas is challenging the government to come up with agriculture investment banks to support rural farmers. According to government statistics, over 80% of Uganda’s population is dependent on agriculture, making it the backbone of the country’s economy.“If we have these agriculture investment banks, it will help to boost the sector and the families engaged in agriculture. The food security guaranteed and the income raised from the sales will help in providing for the famer and their children. Other banks don’t appreciate the needs of our farmers, and the unpredictable dynamics that affect farmers like prolonged drought, agriculture produce price fluctuations.
Children should be given an opportunity to discuss matters which affect their welfare. This results into a children’s parliament at every level, including at village level. At Jolly Mercy Learning Center, CALM Africa encourages staff to hold a children’s parliament.
According to Team Leader, this is different from the debating club; this is where children are given chance to air out their views on how they are being taught, displayed, the food and other issues that affect their life. Giving the children a voice is a very positive step in helping them reach their full potential.
In Uganda like anywhere else, children are still a weak link in the human chain and are in most cases unable to properly defend their rights. This necessitates concerted action on the part of major entities of society like government departments, civil society organizations, alliance groups and community organizations, to strengthen child protection mechanisms. Children are our future. They must be protected, nurtured and inspired at any cost.
Here at CFU, we raise funding to help all aspects of CALM Africa’s work. Part of our donations go towards CALM Africa operational costs and this can include the transport to make sure they can reach these outlets.