It is children who often teach us how to live. Jesus highlighted them as examples to be followed. Children are naturally full of wonder, energy and trust. Through their vulnerability, they exude humility and call us to be the most loving we can be. Children can bring out the nature of Christ in us.
Children in the first century were often ostracised or unwanted. They were considered physically weak, burdens, and had little value to the wider community.
When Jesus was teaching, people would bring their children to him, asking him to bless them. The disciples didn’t like that and pushed them away. After all, they were just children and couldn’t contribute to what Jesus was doing. Jesus’ message was important; children were not.
Jesus was indignant at the disciples’ actions. He was deeply grieved because he valued children and saw them as important like adults. He said the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Jesus explains that if we want to be part of what he is about, we need to become like little children. His teaching of the kingdom of God was completely opposite to the prevailing expectation of his time. It was so contrary to contemporary belief, it was astonishing.
Our work in Kenya focuses on protecting children and enabling them to thrive. While the events of last year have taken their toll on many in the communities where we work, the pandemic exacerbated existing vulnerabilities for children, particularly young girls. When the schools closed, children were exposed to danger. Without the protection of school, many children started working to help support their families. Children were put to manual labour instead of learning. More insidiously, girls have become more vulnerable to child marriage, undergoing cutting rituals (female genital mutilation), and the rates of teenage pregnancy have increased.
Sadly, we live in a world where children’s voices are still not heard and respected as they should be.
In Kenya, our partner, the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK), is giving priority to the safeguarding of children, protecting the innocent. During the pandemic, ACK has been educating and supporting community leaders (‘Nyumba Kumi’) to intervene where there are child rights violations, even rescuing young girls who have fallen victim to early marriage. For young girls who have been subject to harassment and become pregnant, they help reconcile them with family, and access counselling and support services.
In response to the escalation of child abuse, last year ACK started a new initiative, establishing community child protection groups to allow communities and parents to have a strong voice in addressing child protection issues locally. So far, 331 members in 11 groups have been trained so that they are fully equipped to deal with issues of child safety, protection and care. They will be a key group of people within the community that can help stamp out harmful practices like child labour, child marriage and female genital mutilation.
We ask you in this appeal to please support communities in Kenya as they protect the innocence of their children.
Donations to our ‘Protecting the innocent’ End of Financial Year Appeal before June 30 will be combined with funding from the Australian Government to reach more people.*
Thank you for your ongoing support, and please keep ACK and the children of Kenya in your prayers.
Anne: Champion of Girls
Anne is a teacher in a remote primary school in Laikipia county, Kenya. She is passionate in her mission to change the life of the girls in her school; and the school is very determined to give the children the best opportunities it can.
But the road hasn’t been easy. Anne speaks of a troubling culture and attitude towards girls in the local community that has been changing lately but is still present. The changes for the better that they were seeing have been set back by the COVID-related closure of schools in 2020.
In a primary school where the oldest children are 13-14 years old, Anne says that it is common for girls to fall pregnant. In 2019, they didn’t have any pregnancies. That was a good year. Their efforts were paying off. They teach the girls, “no one has the right to dictate to you about your life; you should be the one who has the choice of what you want to do.”
Slowly the attitude towards female genital mutilation (FGM) has been changing too, although Anne says the two issues are connected.
“When I started here, I tried to get to the root cause of why someone would subject a young girl to that terrible thing? According to the culture, if girls get pregnant without going through the cut, then they are an outcast; it is a taboo. So, the mothers prepare the girls and subject them to the cut at an early age, just in case she becomes pregnant. To ‘protect her’ from being an outcast.”
Now, after COVID-19 closed the schools, the children have been separated from teachers like Anne, who defend their rights and teach them that they have autonomy over their bodies.
Now more than ever, young girls need systems like school guidance counselling and child protection committees in their communities to protect them through their most vulnerable years of life.
What do we mean by ‘GREATER IMPACT’?
In Kenya our program is supported by the Australian Government’s Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP). This is great news for you as donors. We have committed to contribute $1 for every $10 we receive from the Australian Government. Your donation will allow us to extend our programs. Through your support, more lives can be transformed, and our projects can continue to ensure vulnerable communities are receiving the support to improve their lives.
Until June 30th 2021, we are required to contribute $1 for every $10 we receive through the ANCP. This was a temporary adjustment in recognition of the challenges of COVID-19. From July 1st 2021, this will revert to $1 for every $5 match. Your donations will help us meet our ANCP funding match.
To donate to our 2021 EOFY Appeal, click on the ‘Please Donate’ button below (choose ’01. 2021 EOFY Appeal ‘Protecting the innocent” from the ‘Donation’ drop-down menu) or call us on 1800 249 880.
Alternatively, you can send a cheque/money order made payable to Anglican Overseas Aid to:
Anglican Overseas Aid
PO Box 389
Abbotsford, VIC 3067