Saturday, November 24, 2007

International Children's Day

I haven't been posting many photos recently, so today is an attempt to make amends! The 20th November is International Children's Day, when we commemorate the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Children's rights are widely ignored and unknown around here, so part of our work is to raise awareness of, and advocate for, children's rights. In Bukavu this year our primary activity was to give children a voice: we provide radio and TV time, and the children use that time to hold discussions and put on sketches concerning their rights. Children have the right to freedom of expression and the right to give their opinion, so this activity permits them to put this right into effect.

Children also have the right to free primary education. These two photos were taken in a small primary school where classes take place in a deserted house formerly inhabited by a tea factory manager in a rural area. The classrooms are almost empty of children because the teachers sent the kids home for non-payment of fees. Fees are paid monthly and this happens about two days out of every month. Trying to explain to the school director that the kids aren't learning much if they're not in school elicits a shrug of the shoulders, "One of our teachers was sick last week from lack of food, how are they to eat?"

Clowns and Magicians Without Borders from Belgium ( are in town this week, and we took the two women and one man with us into the rural communities in Walungu, only just beginning to recover from the war, to perform for the children.

Some kids loved it, others were clearly not sure what to make of these weirdos from Europe!

The favourite moments were when the clowns invited a member of the audience up onto the stage to perform some "gymnastics" with them - which had the other kids roaring with laughter at their hapless friend.

I've just run out of time for today - the Americans in town are celebrating Thanksgiving this afternoon so I need to get home and start cooking! And congratulations to Australians out there for holding peaceful democratic elections!


moshe said...

Your comment about a child's right to free primary education had me scurrying through the internet to read the convention about children's rights. indeed it is article 28, yet i must say that in many of the poorer nations i visit, the primary education is not free, which leaves me wondering about just a few more things....

guillaumme said...

How was your Thxgiving? guessed there were no Turkey!