By Allieu Mowia (YES 2013-2014, Sierra Leone, hosted by AFS in Enterprise, OR)
Since 1991 June 16th has been commemorated as the Day of the African Child. This day marks the brutal killings of students who protested for the end of segregation and fought for provision of quality education in Soweto, South Africa. The day commemorates the courage of those students who stood up for what they believed in.
YES alumni, Mabel Tucker (YES 2014-2015, Sierra Leone, hosted by AYA in Payette, ID) and myself, Allieu Moiwa, organized a trivia night and dinner for four primary schools in Bo, Southern Sierra Leone to commemorate this important day. We invited the following schools to send student representatives: Agape Way Christian School, National Islamic Primary School, Martin Luther Primary School, and Believers Covenant Primary School. Fifty primary students attended the event!
Our goal was to make sure that children know what their rights are, so it seemed only appropriate to lead them in an educational discussion on the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child. We started the night off with an interactive discussion using everyday scenarios on the way that children are treated and the positive and negative impacts that has on their lives. We discussed the SDGs, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and African history. After a discussion we moved into a trivia event, where the different schools competed against each other. We tested their knowledge on the topics we had discussed earlier – it was a fun and friendly event. The teams who answered the most questions correctly received learning materials. After the trivia portion of the night all the students ate dinner. It was a very colorful and merry event!
We were inspired to do this project because of the need to defend the right of children especially seeing that children are so vulnerable in African societies. Due to some traditions and customs there are some hindrances in the growth and development of the child. It is high time that we confront those to ensure our future is better. We want to raise everyday awareness on children’s rights so that it will be absorbed by all of society, and slowly we can make a difference. We believe that by telling children about their rights, we are going to help the fight. For example, we were all saddened when one of the attendees says she undergoes child labor in order to help provide for the family. We want to shed light on the plight of children and help in solving it by education and awareness raising. Knowledge is power, and holding events like this will help bring awareness to society.
One of the highlights of the event was when a nine-year old quoted one of Africa's greatest sons, Nelson Mandela – "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world "
Other YES alumni involved in this event:
Augustine Margao (YES 2016-2017, Sierra Leone, hosted by PAX in Ephrata, WA)
Mukeh Fulakeh Lamin (YES 2017-2018, Sierra Leone, hosted by IRIS in HIlls, IA)