Afrika Tikkun’s year-long Memeza Bazokuzwa campaign focuses on child protection as they use National Child Protection Week to reinforce the message of the child’s rights to speak out and be heard.
A 2017 study by the Children’s Institute of the University of Cape Town reports that one in three children will experience sexual or physical abuse before the age of eighteen. But most recently, Parliament heard that 99% of children in South Africa have experienced or witnessed violence and 41% of all reported rape cases in the last 3 years have been of children.
Each year, government and organisations around the country gear up to mark National Child Protection Week with a host of campaigns designed to raise awareness about children’s rights and launch programmes that provide services for their safeguarding. It aims to mobilise all sectors of South African society to care for and protect children as the most vulnerable – and valuable – members of our society. In 2018, Child Protection Week launched on Sunday, 27 May with the theme, “Let us protect all children to move South Africa forward.”
One such organisation is Afrika Tikkun; an NGO with a focus on child and youth development and ending youth unemployment in underprivileged communities. Their work in the child protection arena is an ongoing effort, intended to strengthen the capacity of children to speak out against abuse and empower families and communities to care for and protect their children. 2018 is the year of child protection, and their activities during Child Protection Week 2018, are planned to further instil the theme and call-to-action Memeza Bazokuzwa/ ‘Speak out, they will hear you’.
Addressing staff, stakeholders, parents and children at the launch of Afrika Tikkun’s Child Protection Week activities, CEO Marc Lubner said: “It is of critical importance that the voices of the most vulnerable are empowered to address abuses. It’s time to break the silence around child abuse. Young people need to understand that they can and should hold their guardians accountable for safeguarding their rights. As adults we need to acknowledge that we all have a responsibility to protect children from harm. Let us challenge the culture of tolerance for violence and silence when it is perpetrated against children!”
Dr Jean Elphick, who leads the organisation’s Empowerment Programme adds: “We take child protection very seriously at Afrika Tikkun, and we are investing a lot to bring about institutional change towards greater protection for children. In terms of staff, we submit the details of every employee to SAPS for clearance, and with regards to the Child Protection Register. In addition, every single one of our staff members is currently being trained to apply the Child Protection Policy. It is important for every staff member, visitor and volunteer to understand that young people will only speak out when they have faith that adults will listen to them, hear them, believe them and pursue justice for them in a way that protects their dignity and best interests.”
Elphick continues: “Core to our Memeza Bazokuzwa campaign is encouraging our young people to feel empowered and be encouraged to speak out.”
(Watch Memeza Bazokuzwa’s ‘Family, Memeza!’ on Afrika Tikkun’s YouTube channel)
“We are passionate about addressing the needs of our youth 24/7/365 so that they in turn can contribute to the building of our nation, and we are very fortunate to have the amazing staff, parents, support and benefactors that we do – all involved in the good work that we are able to achieve on a daily basis,” says Elphick.
The Diepsloot Centre of Excellence launched Afrika Tikkun’s 2018 Child Protection Week activities with a parade from Peach Road towards extensions 1, 5, 7 and back on Tuesday, 29 May. The Uthando Centre of Excellence celebrates with their parade on Wednesday, 30 May. Alexandra has their parade through 16th and 17th avenues scheduled for Thursday, 31 May. Orange Farm will celebrate Child Protection Week with a parade on Friday, 1 June and Mfuleni in the Western Cape gears up for their parade closer to Youth Day, on Monday June 11th.