The Day of the African Child, which takes place every June 16, seeks to commemorate the inalienable rights of children. The Day has been celebrated since 1991, when the Organization of African Unity established it as a tribute to the hundreds of young boys and girls who were killed in the Soweto Uprising in South Africa in 1976 for protesting against discrimination in education. The date has become a space for reflection on improving childhood, education for all without distinction for sex, creed, and race. It also focuses on the preventing hazards that affect the community, such as diseases and poverty, as well as an act of encouragement and empowerment to African youth.
Under the theme for 2011 “All Together for Urgent Actions in Favour of Street Children,” the aim was to draw attention to the dangers that street children face, often subject to violence, abuse, and exploitation. The celebration was particularly felt in the West African nation of Guinea Bissau, one of the poorest countries in the world, where 40% of the population is under 15 years old and often dragged to the plight of human trafficking and child labour.
The Rising Voices grantee, Youth Voices of Bandim and Enterramento has published blog posts about the Day’s celebrations in the peripheral neighboorhods of Enterramento [pt] and Bandim [pt], in the capital city of Bissau. The event was organized by the national Association of Friends of Children (Associação dos Amigos de Criança, AMIC), which gives support to vulnerable children from or in transit to Bissau for family reunification and raises awareness about the rights of children in order to prevent cases of trafficking. The day culminated “in a giant musical animation, traditional dance and theater by the creative Netos de Bandim and Enterramento Unido groups” and also included:
um encontro de futebol entre as crianças do Bairro de Bandim e de Enterramento, projecções de filmes, palestra, debates, música, dramatização, danças tradicionais sobre o trafico das crianças. Os animadores da AMIC aproveitaram a ocasião para alertar as crianças presentes nas comemorações para os perigos do tráfico e capacitá-las na identificação de situações de risco.
Também o evento serviu para o lançamento do livro “Vozes de Nós”, banda desenhada “Mininus di Rua” feitos no âmbito do projecto Meninos de Rua financiado pela ACEP. As crianças e jovens do Bairro de Enterramento e Bandim receberam também o “Manual dos Direitos da Criança” e o estudo “Engenhos de Rua”.
Also, the event served to launch the book “Voices of Us,” the comic book “Street Children” made possible by the Street Children project funded by ACEP. The children and the youth from Barrios Bandim and Enterramento also received the “Manual on the Rights of the Child” and the case study “Engenho de Rua”.