The Voice of The Young under the Child Protection Alliance (CPA), on June 16 held its first Bantaba for the year.
Members of the organisation also used the occasion to mark the Day of the African Child under the theme: “All Together For Urgent Actions in Favour of Street Children.”
Held at the SOS-Hermann Gmeiner Lower and
Speaking at the ceremony, Haddy Jonga, president of Voice of the Young, said: “It goes without saying that celebrations of this kind, definitely call for the promotion, protection and consolidation of rights for the children of The Gambia and the world as a whole.”
According to her, there has been a massive improvement of the reduction in the amount of children loitering around the streets; yet there are hundreds of them who still live in the streets or spend most of their time daily in the streets, fending for themselves in order to make a living and contribute their own bit to their families’ daily bread.”
Ms Jonga added that these children, like any other children, should be treated humanely, sent to rehabilitation centres, educated and put back into proper homes with their parents/ families, to be shown the love, care and support they need, so as to ensure they live an unforgettable period of childhood as well as develop to their maximum potentials.
For her part, Fanta Bai Secka, director of Social Welfare, in her keynote statement, said this year’s theme “is a simple call for all of us; government, civil society, Non-Governmental Organisations, communities and children to act decisively by putting in place strong administrative and legislative measures, working together as a community and providing the necessary support for those children who work and those who live in the streets”.
She added: “Although The Gambia can boast of fewer children on the street compared to other African countries. I agree that we are confronted with the problem, mainly as children who work on the street and return home daily to their families or carers.
“It is evident that in the African continent, a number of children are increasingly forced to the street as a result of poverty, abuse, torture, rape, abandonment or orphaned by AIDS. Once they go onto the street, children become vulnerable to all forms of exploitation and inhuman treatment.”
The social welfare director also noted: “We also want to encourage more partnership between Government and the NGO sector in supporting children living and working on the street with livelihood and life skills.
“Providing these children with micro-credit funds to venture into incoming generating activities will in no little way improve their lives through reduction of poverty and creation of safety nets for their survival and development.
“The challenges are many, but I am optimistic that with commitment and action by all stakeholders in the business of child protection, this is not far fetched, it is achievable. We need to act now, for failure to do so means failing our future generation - our own children.”
Mrs. Secka concluded by calling on all Gambians and non-Gambians in the country to take urgent actions in favour of street children.
Voice of the Young also staged a drama on “Street Children: Urgent Action”, while Njundu Drammeh, national coordinator of CPA, moderated the event.