By Arnold Neliba
NAIROBI, MAY 24, 2022 (CISA)-Representatives from member countries of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences of Eastern Africa (AMECEA) and partners from Europe and the USA have concluded a two-day conference in Nairobi to deliberate on child protection challenges and solutions in and for Africa, in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
The conference themed “An Indaba on a Theology and Practice of Child Protection in Africa in Times of Pandemics” is in response to Pope Francis’s call to unite leaders and people from all sectors to fully participate in the mission of safeguarding children Post Covid-19.
“As we know in Africa, more than 50 percent of the population is children and those children tend to be vulnerable, and those vulnerabilities have been worsened by covid-19. God calls us to take care of the vulnerable and the disadvantaged and one of those are children who are ravaged by poverty, girls harassed with sexual abuse, dropping out of school and children who have lost their parents,” Fr Charles Chilufya, Director of Justice and Ecology Office of Jesuit Conference on Africa and Madagascar (JENA) told CISA.
Convened by the Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network – Africa (JENA) of the Jesuit Conference on Africa and Madagascar (JCAM) in collaboration with The Vatican COVID-19 Commission – Africa Taskforce, AMECEA and the Catholic Care for Children (CCC), the conference aims at formulating working policies that protect children in the post-Covid-19 era.
“We are also working with local government here in Africa as well as international governments; USAID and US State department because we need good policies that protect children. We need to ensure that policies are in place and that the necessary resources like funds, and institutions are also assigned to the care and protection of children,” added Fr Chilufya who doubles as the coordinator of the Africa Taskforce of the Vatican Covid-19 Commission.
Leading the delegation is Bishop Charles Kasonde of Solwezi, Zambia, and chairman of AMECEA, Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa of Blantyre, Malawi, and Bishop Alfred Rotich of Kericho, Kenya.
According to Bishop Kasonde, the May 23-24 workshop is a fulfilment of resolutions reached during the 2018 AMECEA plenary in Ethiopia where participants agreed to create a framework for the safeguarding of children and the lives of vulnerable adults.
“A workshop like this helps us to revisit what we are doing and know where we can do it nicely and ensure that our children are protected in the future,” said Bishop Kasonde while acknowledging Child related issues are a global phenomenon, which requires local and international partners to help combat.
The two-day meeting was also attended by policy formulators, representatives of Church-owned children’s institutions, representatives of the Association of Sisterhood of Kenya (AOSK) and Uganda, and lay groups.