My experience as an AFRUCA Children’s Champion
Joining AFRUCA as one of the first set of Children’s Champions was a proud moment for me but I had only a slight glimpse of what this project would become. It has opened my eyes to what many African children had to and still endure in the name of good upbringing. I too have been enlightened. I remember having a conversation with our AFRUCA CEO Debbie Ariyo OBE, long before she started the programme. I said to her that “I was beaten as a child and see how well I have turned out!” To be honest, at the time, I could not see how one could bring up a child without a good dose of beating, on well deserved occasions. Debbie looked at me in horror and we laugh about it, now. But in truth, it is so amazing how one’s mind can be set in one particular way, when one knows no other way. Indeed, I for one, have learnt so much.
And so it is that I have to say that, I have enjoyed and been proud of my association with AFRUCA. My involvement with AFRUCA has afforded me the opportunity to learn to teach and to meet such dedicated people. I am very sorry to hear about present funding challenges because I know that the work still needs to be done. People have started hearing more about AFRUCA. I am being approached by people I spoke to two years ago, to undertake training sessions! The word is still spreading and the need for such a service still remains.
My mind turns to the migrant issues in Europe, including the U.K., people with all sorts of cultural leanings are migrating over water as a result of war and economic challenges and with each influx of people the need for organisations like AFRUCA increases.
I pray that the closure of this programme will not be cause for regret when the count of victims like Baby P or Victoria Climbie or Baby D, begins to rise again.
My concerns about the African Child in the UK and in Africa before getting the valuable training from AFRUCA to become a Children’s Champion has not changed. The highly educating and informative training was an important first step that improved my public speaking and increased my network with Africans in London.
Evident in facilitating workshops in African communities around London, attending seminars and also updated my knowledge on child safeguarding issues in general as I believe was for many Children’s Champions. It is rather disappointing to hear funding for the CC Project is short lived. However, it would be necessary to review the national statistics on child protective care in the UK to inform ourselves of how to take further the project as concerned Africans striving to make change in our communities.
As mentioned before, there are so many factors involved in the fate of the African child in the UK, some are cultural, education and societal, therefore, the CC Project will have to continue if we do understand how serious our problems and that of our children are.
I decided to become a Champion because I am concerned about children going into care and how some parents are ill educated about practices that are considered part of tradition and culture. I am a teacher and I felt the need to find a platform which allowed me to have an honest conversation with parents in the community.
The two day training was beneficial in so far as having the opportunity of putting what I learned to test in front of fellow champions to be. It has opened my eyes as to the vast majority of parents in the community that despite of all negatives press are looking for alternative parenting styles. I am not a parent. However, the experience has been really positive, I have done two workshops and I found that people in the community are very receptive to the information within the presentations. I feel that I have made a difference in the community
I decided to train for the AFRUCA Children’s Champions simply to help foster a better understanding of child abuse in the African communities, the ignorance of child protection guidance upheld in the rhetoric of culture, tradition, religion and law has become preposterous and I could no longer sit back and do nothing. The two Day training was an excellent package of ideas which can only be strengthen by the participants’ passion for change, it improved my knowledge of Child Abuse.
The impact of the project has meant that I think outside the box, I have extended these learning to other constituencies of my work, as a parent, faith leader and tutor in educational institutions.
Facilitating workshops depends on the audience, I am mindful when speaking to mostly women audience to avoid a sense of patriarchy, however delivering these trainings has been a source of empowerment and fulfilment of duty.