The commemoration event was held at the EU Residence in Freetown which brought together development partners, representatives of the diplomatic community, civil society and local authorities.
The event commenced with a drama on the dangers and tragedy of child marriage, teenage pregnancy, and the impact of violence against vulnerable children staged by the Youth and Child Advocacy Network (YACAN).
“Today’s message is one that should guide decision markers every day of the year, all around the world. There is no future for any country if children are denied their rights and opportunities to grow up to be healthy, informed, empowered and responsible citizens that can carry our development forward,” the Ambassador of the European Union to Sierra Leone, Mr. Tom Vens maintained.
He further stated that children need to have access to health and grow up in a secure environment without violence and any form of abuse, and that they should be able acquire quality education which would further enhance them to secure jobs that will allow them to assure their own livelihood and those of their future families.
On the side of the UNICEF, the Country Representative, Dr. Hamid El- Bashir Ibrahim said that children are not just the future, but also the present, and make up almost half the of the population of Sierra Leone.
“But despite their numbers, we don’t spend enough time listening to what they have to say, or in addressing their needs. If you can build better childhoods, then the future wellbeing and prosperity of the country can be secured,” he ascertained.
On behalf of the children of Sierra Leone, Ms. Dolcy Kailie applauded the EU Delegation, UNICEF, Save the Children and the development partners for facilitating what she described as a positive platform for the articulation of children’s welfare, rights, wellbeing and responsibilities.
She emphasized that as responsible children of Sierra Leone, through YACAN, they have domesticated the theme of this year’s World Children’s Day which is ‘Stop violence against children’. Kailie made a general plea to Sierra Leone’s parents to shelve the perception of the Biblical quotation, “spare the rod and spoil the child,” which is a modern-day proverb that means if a parent refuses to discipline an unruly child, that child will grow accustomed to getting his own way, and that he /she will become, in the common vernacular, a spoiled brat. The saying comes from Proverbs 13:24, “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” The Lord uses discipline to reveal our sins to us. This is also how parents reveal the truth of our need for a Saviour to their children. When a child does not feel the consequence of his sin, he will not understand that sin requires punishment. Ms. Dolcy Kaile noted that that “We understand simple instruction through peace and love.”
She called on the appropriate authorities to safeguard children from domestic violence as she noted that the crime rate of sexual and gender based violence and sexual penetration is currently alarming in Sierra Leone.
World Children’s Day has been held every year since 1954 “to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improve children’s welfare.” The day is marked every November 20 to commemorate the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
This is a day for children, by children, all over the world to help save children’s lives, fight for their rights and help them fulfill their potential, in order for them to take over roles in government, media and entertainment and to raise awareness about the suffering of children around the world.