The Ethiopian Catholic Church’s Social and Development Commission (ECC SDCO) with the financial support of Kindermissionwerk has been able to implement a project to promote the Catholic Church Child protection policy in all Pastoral and Social activities of the Church.
On April 6, ECC SDCO Women and Family Affairs team organized a one-day discussion forum in Addis Ababa in which it brought together all actors particularly working with children and education desk coordinators from 11 Diocesan ECC SDCO Coordinating office to discuss on the results of the evaluation conducted, share experiences and come up with a way forward for a better achievement.
According to Sr. Senait Mengesha, MMS, ECC SDCO Women and Family Affairs team leader, the two-year project has involved Catholic schools, children’s centers and other actors working with family and children in raising awareness about child protection.
“In the past 2 years we have travelled to most of the Dioceses to hold awareness raising workshops on using child protection policy, this way we have managed to reach a wide number of people who are involved in different forms of social services provided by our Church,” said Sr. Senait explaining about the achievements of the Project named Strengthening Child Development and Child Protection in the Ethiopian Catholic Church.
Sr. Senait, MMS, also explained that a particular focus was also given by the project to 3 Dioceses, namely Apostolic Vicariate of Soddo, Apostolic Vicariate of Jimma-Bonga and Eparchy of Emdibir. According to her the 3 Dioceses also took the initiative of adopting the policy into their own working policies and further developed their child protection guidelines. In particular the project supported children of segregated members of the society in Archdiocese of Addis Ababa, Apostolic Vicariate of Jimma-Bonga and Eparchy of Bahirdar-Dessie to change their lives and even attend schools properly by raising their self-esteem through psychological and financial support.
Before submitting a proposal for the second phase of this project, an evaluation is conducted by ECC SDCO with the finding that the project was successful in raising better awareness about the importance of considering child protection issues in all projects and most importantly among school workers, religious leaders and social workers. Mr. Gessesse Gebremedhin, ECC SDCO team member who conducted the evaluation of the project particularly lauded the achievement in giving hope to the segregated children who are now able to follow their education properly.
“These children were not confident to join and attend their classes properly as they were discriminated by their fellow student due to social influence and hygiene problems, now at the end of this project the problems with segregation is minimized with simple steps as provision of hygiene material and school uniforms. With this the children are now confident enough to sit next to children of from other clans in the community,” said Gessesse.
He added child protection begins with the home care of children and ensuring their education for a better future in collaboration with their families and the government. However he said, a lot more remains to be achieved and recommended ECC SDCO Women and Family Affairs team to continue working vigorously to reach to wider number Church institutions in all the Dioceses.
By Makeda Yohannes